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A Learning Laboratory for Innovation

When it comes to implementing innovations, Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grantees are at the forefront. From day one, these state and local grantees envisioned a better way of doing things – whether it be new or proven interventions, revamped systems and processes, or bold new service strategies to transform the customer experience. And, Maher & Maher has been with the WIF grantee community every step of the way, bringing a comprehensive program of technical assistance and support, individualized performance coaching, and a transfer of knowledge to the broader workforce system.

Since 2012, WIF grants competitively awarded by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) have funded 43 efforts to test and rigorously evaluate pilot projects. And each year since, WIF has brought together these leaders of change from across the country to Washington, DC for an annual convening held at the U.S. Department of Labor. The recent 2016 meeting was jam-packed with peer learning and sharing, and infused with presentations from ETA and recognized national subject matter experts.

One high point was a plenary featuring Virginia Hamilton, ETA’s Region 6 Administrator from the San Francisco office. Virginia is an unabashed fan, and an expert in her own right, of Design Thinking. Her enthusiasm was contagious as she discussed the concepts of Design Thinking and how it’s use in the workforce system has put customer needs centric to enhance customer satisfaction and outcomes. Virginia highlighted examples from ETA’s national Customer Centered Design Challenge, and teed up a hands-on “ideation” activity where grantees explored creative approaches to problem solving that start with customers and end with innovative solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs.

At the WIF convenings, grantees never seem to get enough time with their peers, and Speed Dating the WIF Way was no different. This networking activity allowed grantees to hear the challenges and opportunities their peers face, and discover solutions that worked in real-life applications. According to one grantee, “There’s simply no better way to learn than from those that have been there, done that!” And that’s why the conversations carried on long after the day ended.

Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The firm is U.S. Department of Labor’s national technical assistance provider supporting the Employment and Training Administration’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a number of other priority initiatives of the administration that advance and promote the public workforce system. Maher is also currently involved in a number of sector strategy, regional planning, organizational strategic planning and training initiatives in multiple state and regional areas. For more information about our services, visit our website or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.

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