Are you BOLD enough to “Fail-Fast?” Customer Centered Design Holds a Key to WIOA Success | Maher & Maher
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Are you BOLD enough to “Fail-Fast?” Customer Centered Design Holds a Key to WIOA Success

Three work sessions at the recent National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) Conference in Orlando invited participants to innovate their way to improved service delivery integration, and to “fail fast” in the pursuit of better outcomes for both job seeker and employer customers. We were really energized by the enthusiasm of people from across the country as we explored ETA’s Customer Centered Design (CCD) initiative.

CCD Session

Customer Centered Design (CCD) is a way of exploring service delivery excellence using “design thinking” as the engine for innovation, and the Employment and Training Administration has been championing its acceptance across the Nation’s Workforce Development System aggressively. ETA’s Customer Centered Design Challenge, which we have supported as TA providers and coaches for the initiative, has seen 200 teams since last summer from across the U.S. form to re-imagine service delivery excellence focused on everything from better serving disconnected youth to improving our services to employers. The second phase of the Challenge now has over 100 teams enrolled for a chance to showcase their successes at the White House Learning Exchange and Celebration in early fall of 2016.

Our Christy Montgomery, a Maher CCD Coach and subject matter expert, joined our President and CEO, Rick Maher, in leading the events – one focused on program designs that engage out-of-school youth, one focused on One-Stop services to job seekers and another focused on connecting CCD to sector-based initiatives.

Each workshop started with a brief interactive overview of the CCD process and moved on to feature outcomes from projects from around the Country. Participants learned about a 5-step CCD process that begins with Research, and proceeds to Synthesize, Ideate, Prototype and Test. Key elements of “design thinking” were featured, teaching learners that an empathetic connection to the customer – their life situations as well as their emotions – is key to good “design thinking.” Further, a willingness to proceed with a belief that there is always a solution to each challenge if staff is willing to be open-minded and test new ideas is important. Finally, accepting “failure” as a learning experience and an opportunity to re-test new ideas helps folks grasp the need to “fail fast” and move forward to improved outcomes and designs in service delivery excellence.

Christy Montgomery“Christy did a great job getting the audience engaged in the CCD mindset, and folks seemed energized and engaged,” said Rick Maher. “I am convinced that as System leaders move beyond the early requirements for WIOA implementation and begin to focus on the need to better integrate service delivery, they will want to engage with CCD, and we’re committed to help make that happen.”

People can learn more about CCD on ETA’s Innovation and Opportunity Network (ION) website here, or visit the Maher & Maher website.

Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The firm is the national Technical Assistance (TA) contractor for Sector Strategies for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) as well as the TA contractor supporting ETA’s implementation of WIOA. For more information about our services visit us at or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.


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