The unprecedented challenges facing human services leaders today require innovation, transformation and modernization. But how can organizations develop innovative human services solutions when the price of failure is so high—not just in terms of the political and financial costs, but in the human cost of the very lives that social services programs exist to help?
When public money is at stake, the risk of failure is only acceptable when it is essential to avoid the significant cost of long-term inaction, when the downsides are mitigated and when it plays a part in a wider transformation agenda. In human services, risk as a path to innovation must be managed well—but risk itself is inevitable.
The ideas in this point of view reflect perspectives from the 2012 Human Services Summit: Outcomes and Impact, a gathering of human services leaders, industry experts and academics at Harvard University in October 2012.