Steps Towards a New Era: Agencies Partner with Innovation Experts

By Sara Porcaro | January 15, 2019

Whether a simple change in one's life, or a complete revision of a business model, change--especially that which delves into the unknown--can be scary for anyone. But in the search for growth and improvement, one must learn to take the leap. This year, for Rhode Island disability service models, change means innovation with the Business Innovation Factory (BIF)!

As a part of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training's Real Pathways grant headed by Perspectives, Sherlock's Conversion Institute received funds to begin finding new ways to deliver agency services. This provided resources to connect with the experts of the Business Innovation Factory, which pushed forward the initiative that birthed the Institute to begin with: the task of recreating RI's disability service models within 10 years of the 2014 Consent Decree.

Perspectives Senior Director Kim Einloth notes: "The Sherlock Center picked agencies they felt had the capacity and leadership to innovate services, and we're proud to be on that team. We also wouldn't have known [about BIF] if not for the Center's collaboration with them."

Headquarted in Rhode Island, BIF is a global, non-profit operation. Its founder, Saul Kaplan, started the organization in 2005, and has since grown the organization with the mission of assisting businesses in reimagining their models "by making it safer and easier to manage for institutional leaders"--especially in the sectors of healthcare, education, and public services, according to their website. Their focus is on taking some of the unknown, that scary part of change, out of the equation so that businesses can not just adjust, but fully reimagine the way they conduct their services.

"This is actually the first time BIF has entered the field of developmental disability services," notes Senior Director Andrew McQuaide.

Last September, Einloth, McQuaide,and Executive Director Judy Niedbala attended BIF's 2018 Annual Collaborative Innovation Summit at the Trinity Repertoire Company to represent Perspectives. This two-day event brought thirty-two storytellers together to share personal experiences to attendees, centered on the theme of innovation, as well as encourage networking between professionals from various states and industries.

So began a journey towards a completely new service model, with Perspectives, West Bay Residential Services, Looking Upwards, The Groden Network / Cove Center, and Whitmarsh working as Sherlock Member Organizations in this initiative. Together, with BIF guiding the innovation process, these organizations and the Sherlock Center have solidified a 3-month commitment involving research on the current state of services, analysis of data, and prototyping of new person-centered models.

With the Summit kicking this project off, so began the journey forward: research, discussion, synthesis, and the starting creation of a new conceptual design. Now, with the innovation experts at BIF, the resources from the DLT to pursue innovation, and the hard work of the Sherlock Center and its five Sherlock Member Organizations, the future of disability services in RI is well on its way. Person-centered, inclusive practice has always been the goal, especially here at Perspectives, and this project only propels us all towards the future!