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Submission #12

Submission information
Submitted by Michael Howell
Fri, 04/13/2018 - 7:32pm

Professional Development Joint Leadership Day Focuses on Innovation

The 2018 Partners and Voyagers classes combined forces on April 4th for a day of Leadership training. Their morning session consisted of a panel of Institute for Innovation speakers: Alexis Bonnell, Division Chief of Applied Innovation and Acceleration, US Global Development Lab, USAID, Arianne Miller, Managing Director, The Lab, OPM and Michael Whitaker, Senior Vice President of Emerging Solutions for ICF. Attendees learned about managing innovation and leading change to improve organizational performance and engaging people effectively through human-centered design principles and practices.

Alexis led off with an exercise to demonstrate the importance of establishing an inclusive environment that encourages ideas and contributions from everyone including people you might not ordinarily involve. She offered an example where USAID ran a competition to develop lightweight personal protective equipment to combat the Ebola outbreak. Scientists and engineers responded but the person who came up with ideas critical to their success turned out to be a wedding dress seamstress. As a result, they fielded effective equipment in a fraction of the time traditional approaches would have taken. Alexis then led a problem solving exercise that reinforced the importance of teamwork, iteration, and adaptation to rapidly solve problems in creative effective ways.

Arianne Miller provided an overview of the complexity of the U.S. government and the importance of good design in public services. She described the approach the Lab at OPM uses to map the innovation activities of the government and identify affinities and collaboration opportunities.  She described human-centered design methodology, the disciplines involved, and how to build and train a team to make it successful.

Mike Whitaker explained a 3 box model to organize innovation efforts and keep an organization functioning while concurrently innovating – Box 1 Optimize the Present, Box 2 Selectively Forget the Past, and Box 3 Create the Future. He then led the class through a series of exercises to identify stakeholders, map their power and interests, understand their motivations, and develop a strategy to maximize their engagement and support. Mike concluded with the importance of leading change to implement innovations, ways to decompose issues into manageable chunks, and anticipate and prepare to address risks to success.

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