Before launching your new intervention, it is important to reflect on what you have been doing to inform the launch. Taking the time to talk to clients, funders, and partners about the problem set that matches a client segment is important for the opportunity for success. And at the same time, we hope that you took some time to think through current delivery systems and the necessary steps in building new ones; this eventually led to you mapping and organizing the steps into a system. It is also critical that you think through the business case and its viability which will inform any materials you are creating to talk to resource providers. If you have done this over a period that has allowed your intervention to evolve based on feedback and designing, you are probably thinking of launching at some point soon.
Before you do, don’t try and launch on everyone at once; however, find some clients for a pilot program or service test. And even though this is just a pilot or first version, it is important to think through ultimately where you want to take this service; to help an existing client population or to scale? What will be needed along the way to achieve these goals? Visualize future milestones that if achieved would set the stage for additional resources, funding, people, processes, systems, etc.
Also it is helpful to think through what type of environment you are launching into; many times when we have been in our bubble designing, we forget to think about the practical world and how complex and challenging it is. Are we dealing with protectionist barriers with entrenched thinking and prescriptive funding? Many times, the answer is yes. Who are the saboteurs in the community; who could be your champions, who can back things up with data and economic insights? You will have to solve through these challenges to be successful.
Many times, you will have to walk a fine line between disruption and collaboration, and we have to know where our actions fall. It can be disruptive to call for the community to repurpose dollars, bring an outside partner in to catalyze change, or generate new pipelines of donors and volunteers. Therefore agencies many times must collaborate by realigning actors within the social system, facilitating public and private cooperation, or working across organizational boundaries.
Creating conditions conducive for a successful launch involves also balancing top down versus participatory approaches. Are you pushing from the top with executive level leadership, challenging incumbent providers, or driving policy change. And at the same time are you balancing with grassroots approaches, soliciting client feedback, working with neighborhood organizations and/or conducting town halls, etc.
Your funders and partners are critical to this whole process of things to do before you launch or to make part of the process when launching. Are they rowing in the same direction as you, or do you need to spend time educating and seeing how your success equals their success?
Finally, it is important to re-evaluate your metrics. Are your metrics being collected because of your reporting needs or because they also fit into an overall vision and mission of your agency. It is one thing to report numbers served, it is another thing to lower the overall recidivism rate which is much more challenging but speaks to the overall mission of putting agencies in the best position to lower poverty for a population.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of things to think through and strategize before launching your intervention, but it will force you to think through things that could derail your service or program before it even starts. It will also allow you to craft a better story around challenges and the overall problem you will be addressing. Some of these thoughts can be found in our toolkit on our website with contributions from The Power of Social Innovation, By Stephen Goldsmith.
By Andre Fowlkes of Start Co.