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Unlocking Success: The Three Accelerators for Government Initiatives

by Suzanne Boyd, Founder & CEO of Anthro-Tech

In my 25 years of part­ner­ing with gov­ern­ment teams across var­i­ous projects, I’ve uncov­ered three dis­tinct accel­er­a­tors that set apart suc­cess­ful ini­tia­tives from unsuc­cess­ful ones: col­lab­o­ra­tion, Human-Cen­tered Design (HCD), and inno­va­tion. When com­bined, these accel­er­a­tors cre­ate effec­tive solu­tions that ben­e­fit both cit­i­zens and gov­ern­ment agen­cies. In this post, we’ll delve into each accel­er­a­tor and explore real-world exam­ples from Wash­ing­ton State projects that embody these principles.

three paper airplanes on a blue background

Accelerator #1: Collaboration

Collaboration, the first accelerator, is the foundation of successful initiatives. In my experience, the most exceptional work is accomplished by high-functioning teams that trust and respectfully challenge each other. These teams are diverse, bringing together individuals with different backgrounds, skill sets, and points of view. They work together toward a shared vision of success, overcoming limited resources, budgets, and time.

People collaborating at a conference table
Collaboration is the first key to succes.

Collaboration within government initiatives means breaking down barriers between departments, agencies, and vendors. It involves putting personal territories aside and focusing on a common goal or North Star that guides everyone, even when faced with competing priorities. This kind of synergy doesn't just solve problems; it delivers excellent results.

Real World Examples of Successful Collaboration

The Washington State Health and Human Enterprise Services Coalition, where multiple government agencies and vendors are working together to build an integrated eligibility and enrollment solution.

The Washington State Department of Licensing successfully redesigned their website by promoting a shared vision and encouraging collaboration between departments.

Accelerator #2: Human-Centered Design

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is the second accelerator that empowers successful government initiatives. This approach focuses on designing products, services, and systems that prioritize the needs, behaviors, and experiences of the people who use them.

UX researcher working with subject on a tablet device
HCD begins with thorough research.

HCD begins with thorough research directly involving the intended customers. The first step is understanding the customers’ goals, fears, motivations, and contextual factors. After identifying these issues, designers can create design concepts, test prototypes, and make changes based on feedback.

This collaborative process leads to accessible and usable solutions that accommodate diverse abilities, languages, cultures, genders, ages, races, incomes, and other differences. Moreover, HCD fosters teamwork, problem-solving, and innovation.

Real-World Examples Of Successful HCD Implementation

The Washington State Department of Transportation involved over 20,000 people, including those with disabilities and underserved groups, to transform their website from an organizational-centric structure to a customer-centered design.

The Washington State Health Care Authority is incorporating customer research, prototyping, and testing into their projects.

Accelerator #3: Innovation

Innovation identifies new opportunities, generates creative solutions, and transforms them into practical outcomes. It can manifest as product innovation, process innovation, or business model innovation.

Silhouette of-a person climbing up steps towards a lightbulb
An innovative mindset requires risk-taking.

An innovative mindset requires risk-taking, uncertainty, and challenging the status quo. Leaders must create an environment where team members feel safe to fail and explore new ideas, products, or processes. Innovation is not just about cutting-edge technologies; it can also involve repurposing existing technologies, making incremental improvements, or even stopping certain practices.

Real World Examples Of Innovation

During the pandemic, the City of Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections designed a virtual service desk, offering critical permitting information through chat, email, or phone.

Government agencies are investing in new roles such as product owners, customer experience professionals, and equity and diversity specialists, encouraging discussion and creative problem-solving within their organizations.

Looking Toward the Future

Government initiatives are poised for dynamic transformation, driven by new technologies and evolving customer expectations. As citizens become more accustomed to seamless digital experiences in their daily lives, they expect government services to follow suit. Collaboration, Human-Centered Design, and innovation will be pivotal in adapting to these changes.

Emerging technologies such as AI and data analytics offer opportunities for agencies to revolutionize their operations and enhance their services. HCD will remain essential for tailoring services to citizens needs and preferences. Moreover, the demand for innovation will only intensify as citizens expect solutions that streamline processes and make it less frustrating to interact with the government.