Imagining the future of digital innovation

  • Posted on May 22, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Sheila Killeen.

Imagine bringing nonprofits together to co-create and co-innovate, ask the right questions, align on shared challenges and opportunities and to accelerate agility, learning and upskilling.

Well imagine no further as that is exactly what our Technology for Social Good team did with our first Imagine Workshop, which took place at our Avanade Innovation Studio in New York in April. Our Technology for Social Good ambition is to become a trusted partner to the non-profit sector and help them to realize their digital transformation agenda.  Events like Imagine enable us to bring together a number of nonprofits from across the social sector to share their unique challenges and through partnering with other non-profit organizations we help them to envision their digital transformation journey. Our first Imagine workshop gave a group of eight individuals representing six non-profit organizations an opportunity to come together and use Avanade’s Innovation approach and design thinking to explore potential solutions to commonly held problems.

Why a workshop? Because experience tells us that co-creation speeds the route to maximum impact. To quote Jean-Louis Ecochard of NetHope, “Innovation is the turbo boost that creates mission acceleration.” Our Imagine workshop did just that, providing a hands-on experience for nonprofits to discover new ways to collaborate and approach challenges.

The workshop was co-hosted by our team from Avanade, along with our partners at Microsoft, NetHope and Threshold.world. Dan Lammot, CEO of Threshold.World, presented on the topic of “Maximum Impact.” I was thrilled to be part of a team in the northeast region bringing non-profits and technology together.

The day started with facilitators from our digital studio sharing Avanade’s proven co-innovation and design thinking methodology to explore common challenges and identify opportunities for transformation in the nonprofit sector. Make no mistake, this sector is special – they choose the difficult problems and pursue persistent social challenges, embodying the creative confidence and empathy so many organizations look to lead with today. Optimism, systems intelligence and focus on constituent (or beneficiary) care are table stakes for nonprofits.

The participants were engaging and collaborative in our discussions around the culture, processes, people and technology that shape how the work gets done today. We examined big themes in innovation, real-world applications of emerging technology and what it takes to operationalize big ideas. By the end, we co-created solution concepts to accelerate our own big ideas.

The result? Peer organizations united in a movement to optimize their digital approach, now able to take innovative insights and ideas back to their respective organizations.

“You often hear [within the non-profit sector] that every $1 spent on technology is $1 less spent on helping [those in need], but truly the view in the room was that technology can be an amazing enabler to respond faster and deliver more agility in terms of the response,” said Suzanne Dann, Executive, General Manager at Avanade New York. “You could see the energy and genuine enthusiasm for digital enablement, and I am proud to be part of the conversation to making it real.”

Our day went so well that our Tech for Social Good team in Europe are now planning Imagine workshops in London and Geneva for the fall. If you feel inspired, get in touch and we’ll hook you up.

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