Reflections from the Executive Director

Part of a Series

This Reflection is a part of the 2016 Health and Human Services Summit Report.

To see the complete report, click here.


If investment in your health and human services programs were solely dependent on measurable outcomes, what form of organization and services would you design?

We opened and closed The 2016 Health and Human Services Summit with this vital question. Re-envisioning and redesigning our organizations and services is especially critical as society is quickly entering what I call the “Outcomes Economy” – an environment in which achieving generative outcomes will be dependent on designing an “ecosystem” of value creation. In this new economy, services must be woven together across traditional organizational boundaries in order to create greater capacity and new outcomes. With this shift, we must also find new ways of measuring the value of those outcomes.

While this sounds daunting, the business models emerging from the Outcomes Economy may be key to addressing this growing pressure on the health and human services system. Adapting our systems is pivotal, as 74 percent of Summit attendees said they are facing either significant or extreme pressure to improve capacity and service delivery.

We can look to early adopters, like General Electric, to understand how the Outcomes Economy might impact our environment. You likely have seen the GE commercials that allude to jet engines that can “talk” to other machines and to people. Underneath this machine personification is a strategy in which GE is fundamentally changing its business model – from one of selling jet engines to airline companies, to one of selling “outcomes” to airlines. Essentially, an airline will pay for engine uptime, and GE will monitor the engine’s performance through real-time digital tracking and analytics. In this new outcomes economy model, GE and the collaborators in this digital ecosystem will generate and capture value on their performance outcomes.

Closer to home is the State of Ohio, where officials are transforming their health and human services system to move to an outcomes-based model. With this new model, Ohio is introducing episode-based payments – an approach wherein service providers will receive payment based on metrics of health outcomes. To succeed in this new environment, health and human services providers in Ohio will have to build services that can “talk” to one another by sharing and analyzing data and designing the optimal service level for patients.

The future painted by GE and Ohio shows the importance of building ecosystems that can generate new levels of outcomes. The power of the Outcomes Economy model wasn’t lost on Summit attendees. In fact, 71 percent of attendees said that building new ecosystems is critical for the future. Yet the challenge is also on the minds of leaders at the Summit, as only six percent said they were well prepared to build new ecosystems. Thus, critical competencies of health and human services leaders moving forward will be not only how to design ecosystems, but also how to adapt legacy organizations to fit the new model.

I hope you ponder these challenging issues as you read this report. Prepare to bring your ideas to the 2017 Summit, where we’ll dig even deeper into the Outcomes Economy and reflect on what it will take to build effective ecosystems.

Let’s get to work!

Dr. Antonio M. Oftelie
Fellow, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard
Executive Director, Leadership for a Networked World
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Nike SB Hyperfeel Koston 3

Latest Insights

CFOs today must embrace ceaseless change. The average company in the S&P 500 will be on that list for just 12 years by 2027. That is half of what it was in 2012, and about one-third of what it was in 1964. The downward trend line is unmistakable. Darwin was right, as Perfetti observes....

Having spent more than a decade studying rebels in unexpected places, Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School...

When James O’Neill became the Police Commissioner of New York City in 2016, the department was in the midst of significant change. During the...

As CFOs and financial executives at the Summit have reflected on their role in the world, they’re experiencing profound change now, as well as seeing...


Hosted by

Leadership for a Networked World’s applied research, student innovation challenge, and on-campus summit programs are an initiative of Dr. Antonio M. Oftelie, Innovation Fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH), part of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. TECH is a hub for students, faculty, alumni, and government and industry leaders to learn together, collaborate, and innovate. LNW accelerates these efforts by connecting leaders across sectors and developing cutting-edge thought leadership on innovation and organizational transformation.

© 2020 Leadership for a Networked World. All Rights Reserved.