Through our work across the country, we have noticed an exciting trend – an increased focus by states and regions on using data collection, analysis, and continuous improvement techniques to actively manage their WIOA performance. This increased focus is key because although WIOA encourages workforce systems to experiment with new and innovative service delivery strategies, we all know that testing innovation may also risk your program’s ability to meet and exceed WIOA initially. Trying something new is an experiment – it’s risky and doesn’t always translate immediately to success as defined by WIOA.
The good news is there are strategies to mitigate this risk, maximize your outcomes and free you up to try innovative ideas and strategies. For example, our data analysis (and direct work with state and local clients) suggest that confusion around both the indicators’ intent and definitions are keeping performance outcomes artificially lower than reality. Many staff are still having difficulty understanding the “new” indicators and continue to have many questions regarding which services trigger outcomes, the timing of enrollment and exit, as well as how the data they enter is used to calculate outcomes. States and local areas are tackling this through professional development and we have partnered with several organizations to successfully design and deliver training via a blended learning approach. This training method helps management and staff fully understand how measures are defined and calculated, as well as how their case management actions can directly impact performance outcomes.
In addition to opportunities to enhance understanding and capacity with frontline staff, we also see great potential to further engage managers and agency leadership in leveraging continuous improvement. Continuous improvement requires the ability to use various data sources to actively track performance and make adjustments to service design and delivery to address identified deficiencies and therefore, maximize outcomes. We worked with local workforce areas to help leadership and management understand and apply a continuous improvement framework using logic models and data analysis to address deficiencies that might otherwise stymie or derail the implementation of innovative strategies.
A continuous improvement framework offers a way for states and local areas to use data to identify their priorities and strategies and then track the ongoing progress toward achieving their goals. Through this approach leadership can actively manage their performance by using real-time data to identify issues and adjust their implementation plans to ensure success. It’s exciting work because we’ve seen how this change in focus can improve outcomes which, in turn, drives innovation. It’s a continuous improvement/innovation loop with limitless possibilities!
For more information about Maher’s performance training series, please contact Carrie Yeats at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maher & Maher, an IMPAQ Company, 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.
Co-authors: Scott Wheeler and Lynn Bajorek.