One Year at WorkLab Innovations

A letter from our founding members

Posted on May 21, 2018

One year ago, when we launched WorkLab Innovations, we also embarked on an experiment in collaborative-led scaling. Our common goal: to significantly increase the number of frontline workers with access to employer-funded post-hire supports (and the positive impacts such supports have on life and work outcomes).

Each of our respective organizations brought years of experience to the table. Any one of our organizations could have taken its successful program and, independently, scaled through a plug-and-play replication approach. This would have been simpler for sure, yet we came together to scale our impact—four unique organizations with a shared purpose, operating similar programs but with key differences ranging from the tactical to the structural to the philosophical. So, why?

In today's world of rapid change and ever shifting forces, we had to grapple with and ultimately embrace the fact that what works today must adapt for tomorrow. Rigid replication of one program design across the country would have crippled our ability to achieve the sustained impact generated by iteration, questioning, learning and innovation—the very processes networks of people (and organizations) with common ground, common purpose and plenty of unique attributes excel at.

If you follow thinking on emergent strategy, you'll recognize our approach: our common ground and vision are entry points for engagement, but the true value of our work emerges from the previously unimagined outcomes of network interactions.

In just one short year, with the additions of Cincinnati Works, OAI, Inc., Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit and the Greater New Orleans Foundation to our operating network, that value is already revealing itself. We've been challenged to consider new business metrics to gauge success. We've started examining our model's role and responsiveness in communities struggling with low literacy levels. We've re-imagined our financial wellness services as an integrated suite of tools linking coaching, emergency lending and incentivized savings. And we've grown more intentional about building diverse coalitions of supporters and early adopters in new communities.

As Founding Members of WorkLab Innovations, the four of us couldn't be more pleased with these unanticipated outcomes. In the year ahead, we'll welcome eight additional operating members to our network and we look forward to the new insights they will offer, questions they will raise and innovations they will inspire. We believe our collaborative mindset and approach to scaling ensures our model, The Sustainable Workforce Model, not only reaches more people, but reaches them with increasing impact and efficacy as our network grows. We hope you'll consider joining us on this journey—we'd love to have you along!


 Mindy  SignatureLars Signature

Liddy SignatureLisa Signature

Mindy Ysasi, Lars Nowack, Liddy Romero, Lisa Falcone

Topics: community development,


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