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Emergent Leadership – Turning Ideas into Outcomes

Realizing the potential of emerging ideas has always been dfficult. Even for path-breaking innovations with transformative potential, the road to implementation can be slippery and filled with potholes, twists and turns, and dead-ends. It begs the question: “How can leaders actually implement emerging ideas to realize improved capacity and outcomes?”

This question of how to achieve the potential of new ideas and business models is critically important in human services, given the powerful emergence of innovations such as Pay-for-Success and Social Impact financing, collective impact strategies, executive functioning science, evidence-based service design, two-generation interventions, and many more capacity-building and outcome-driving ideas.

Yet as leaders embrace the potential of emerging human services innovations, they come face-to-face with established institutional structures, legacy processes and systems, silo-based funding patterns, and calcified ways of measuring outcomes that raise formidable barriers to progress. To overcome these daunting barriers, human services leaders will need to excel in areas such as:

  • Setting a strategy that drives innovation forward while safeguarding current capacity.
  • Aligning new measures and outcome goals across programs, organizations, and sectors.
  • Crafting non-traditional alliances that enable sharing of data, resources, and accountability.
  • Pacing the organizational change and adaptation necessary for sustainable progress.

To help human services leaders acquire these skills and strategies, the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, Leadership for a Networked World and Accenture, in collaboration with the American Public Human Services Association, convened senior leaders for the 2015 Human Services Summit: Emergent Leadership – Turning Ideas into Outcomes.

This sixth annual Summit, held from October 23-25, 2015, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, provided an unparalleled opportunity to learn from and network with the world’s foremost human services practitioners, Harvard faculty and researchers, and select industry experts. Participants left the Summit prepared to deliver new levels of outcomes and impact for society, communities, families, and individuals.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016


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.

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