Protecting at-risk children is a complex social challenge: a child suffers an act of violence in a single moment, but that act occurs in a complex context defined by multiple causes, some of which are far apart in space and time.
From 2009-11, we helped leaders from government organizations, social services, lawyers, judges, communities, families, and other actors increase the effectiveness of child protection efforts in the state of Victoria, Australia. Our multi-stakeholder effort was entirely unprecedented and sparked significant change efforts within and across the sector.
Many of the leaders in the Child Protection Lab deemed it an outstanding success. Even so, we took away a hard lesson: there simply wasn’t sufficient capacity for innovation within the system. People were on fire! But the system as a whole was too stiff, too brittle — and what started out a roaring success gradually fizzled as key players failed to sustain their creative work.
Our big takeaway: helping people work together across sectors, organizations, and sectors is a good start — but the next step is to support their innovation efforts all the way from inception to results.