Over the past few months, Molly Tierney and I have been sharing the 10 lessons we learned through our experiences developing innovative solutions like the Accenture Case Insight Solution (ACIS) and the Accenture Virtual Experience Solution (AVEnueS). In this post, I’d like to share more about innovation lessons #4, #5 and #6.

Have a point of view and eliminate assumptions

At my gym is a poster that says, “If you want something that you’ve never had, you have to do something that you’ve never done.” That’s true when tackling fitness goals and when innovating in the new. Within our Child Welfare team, we have taken that to heart – investing time and attention to craft a unique and compelling point of view. We’ve worked together to become very clear about who we are, what we stand for and what we’re working to achieve. For our team, that point of view is simple: We put children and families at the center of everything we do in order to contribute to measurable outcomes. Those outcomes include helping reduce the number of kids in foster care, keep more kids safely at home with their own families and reduce the length of stay for those that need to temporarily enter foster care. Having a clear north star makes it much easier to make, follow-on decisions for innovation.

Lesson: The new requires you to have a point of view and to share that with confidence. It also requires you to eliminate assumptions. Instead, ask endless questions to “bottom out” on clarity.

Trust but verify

How many times have we been told this? This old tactic must be carried forward into the new. And it isn’t so much about whether you can count on someone. It’s more about the dogged pursuit of innovation – and not simply accepting as fact when someone tells you “Oh, that can’t be done” or “That’s just not possible.” It may be that individual’s experience that something can’t be done (or hasn’t been done before). But don’t let that stop you from further investigation. Keep asking questions. Keep probing for solutions. It pays off.

That’s what we did for AVEnueS. Our vision required us to build something that had never been created. Had we stopped probing and pushing, it could have turned into a computer-generated version of virtual reality or a tool that relied on joysticks rather than voice control. Instead, we successfully combined VR and voice to deliver a game-changing training solution.

Lesson: When there are so many things happening that no one has done before, an extra set of eyes or hands is nothing but useful. (This is especially true when someone gives you a reason your idea will fail!)

Take time for a personal touch

A truly novel idea needs someone to see it through – a champion, advocate and shepherd with personal passion about why the idea is so worthwhile. Without that, it’s far too easy for the idea to be ignored or chipped away until it has lost momentum.

The Accenture Case Insight Solution (ACIS) is a great example. The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) Rule and the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) present an unprecedented moment in child welfare – an opportunity to really reinvent the way we engage with families.

Unlike any other child welfare system, ACIS has been designed with a human-centric view. We actively engaged external child welfare practitioners and stakeholders, including individuals who were past recipients of child welfare services. We asked for their partnership in thinking boldly about the future of child welfare so that we could design a solution that only they could imagine. We worked with this group to identify what they believe – up and down the line – they need their technology to do. These ideas, concepts and innovations are exactly what we built into ACIS. An approach like this can only be done by taking a personal touch. We did the work of bringing this group together and asking them – not as clients but as practitioners – to collaborate with us to design for the new and innovative. Along the way, we’ve shown how innovations like artificial intelligence and advanced analytics can serve up a more holistic view of families.

Lesson: When something is new, there are plenty of reasons to say no to it. But with a personal touch, items that were once barriers often become stepping stones to great outcomes.

At the gym, new results might be better endurance and strength. For our Child Welfare team, we’re “training” hard for better outcomes for families and their kids. In the next post, Molly Tierney will share some thoughts on innovation lessons #8 and #9.

In the meantime, let us know what you think by leaving comments below. Follow the links to learn more about ACIS, AVEnueS and Child Welfare offerings, and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Read the next post in this series, ”Driving Innovation: Use Your Pivot Foot (and More).”

Valerie Armbrust

Managing Director – Consulting, Public Service

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