Tools in the Toolbox: Three Tools Consultants Should Know

Tools in the Toolbox: Three Tools Consultants Should Know

Tools in the Toolbox: Three Tools Consultants Should Know

Mission Needs Analysis defines the needs of the client clearly, with the goal of setting the stage for a project or individual tasks. Some techniques that enable collaboration with clients are 1) a Mission Analysis Questionnaire that defines needs, risks, and priorities, 2) a Mission Analysis Document that Communicates the Mission, Vision, Strategy, and Measurable Objectives, and 3) a Strategy Statement Exercise that articulates the differentiating strategy in 35 words or less.

Innovation Workshops benefit our clients, as they bring together key stakeholders to address organizational, performance, process, technology, or management challenges. They help apply the newest Design Thinking techniques.

  • Identifying Goals/Objectives: Host an ideation session to identify and define a specific challenge
  • Choose Attendees, Facilitator, and Setup: Invite relevant parties; choose a facilitator who is unbiased, objective, and credible; arrange participants in a circular table or U shape
  • Develop an Agenda and Innovation Tools: Examples include Client Innovation Maps, Empathy Map, Innovation Question Storming, Mindmap, and Affinity Sessions
  • Choose Outcomes to Implement: Define metrics; identify winning solutions and ideas; assign and track items and next steps clearly

So why use these tools? They help clients identify their organizational strengths, align solutions with their priority challenges, and identify innovative ways to design and implement solutions in a flexible, agile way. 

Analysis and innovation are critical to the Government in times of security pressure and budget austerity. Successful tools that accelerate how consultants innovate for their clients are critical.

At Arc Aspicio, the three tools that address our Government and homeland clients’ needs most successfully are Team Problem Solving, Mission Needs Analysis, and Innovation Workshops. We call these proprietary tools ‘accelerators’ because they help our teams partner with clients to accelerate mission success.

Team Problem Solving incorporates four steps to drive effective and innovative team collaboration:

  • Set-up: Identify a group facilitator responsible for creating a problem statement, creating a plan for the problem solving session, and providing background information as pre-reads
  • Identify the Causes: Employ issue-based problem solving methods, such as issue trees, and make sure you have gathered sufficient information and have the right people in the room to construct a solution
  • Identify the Solution(s): Analyze competing hypotheses or “guess and check” and structured brainstorming
  • Identify Next Steps: Document the discussion and decisions, identify next steps and establish due dates and owners of action items, monitor progress, and schedule future problem solving sessions (on some projects, this happens as frequently as twice per week
Blog Design Thinking Strategy

Contributors

Samantha Greenwald | Samantha Greenwald is an experienced professional with public and private sector experience and interest in immigration, education, and international relations. At Arc Aspicio, she specializes in business process improvement and quality improvement as well as supports company strategic initiatives. Samantha received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Secondary Education from American University and her Master’s in Public Policy from George Mason University. Samantha is passionate about supporting the homeland security mission.

Data + Strategy: Using Data to Inform Agency Strategy

Data + Strategy: Using Data to Inform Agency Strategy

Understanding the types of data available, gaining access to the right data, and making sense of data are daunting tasks for most organizations as they develop a strategy to meet mission demands and enterprise-wide goals. Data is especially challenging for the Government, yet provides the opportunity for insight for leaders as they strategically move their agencies forward.

Workplace Morale is Going to the Dogs… Literally!

Workplace Morale is Going to the Dogs… Literally!

There are few greater feelings than a dog’s unconditional love. And some are finding that a dog’s love can help combat stress at work. Secretary Zinke of the Interior Department announced his intent for "Doggy Days" where he encouraged employees to bring their canine companions to work on designated days. More than 80 dogs arrived for first event and the overjoyed employees immediately scheduled the next.

Accelerating FITARA Compliance: Five Steps That Leaders Can Take Today

Accelerating FITARA Compliance: Five Steps That Leaders Can Take Today

Implementing change is not always easy, but it is always necessary. Federal agencies have been working to transform how they acquire and manage Federal information technology (IT). The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) in December 2014 has increased visibility into this transformation.Although FITARA enhances the authority and accountability of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in reviewing and approving major IT investment projects, CIOs continue to look for new ways to implement best practices at their agencies.

Combating the Rise of Transnational Criminal Organizations

Combating the Rise of Transnational Criminal Organizations

Crime, corruption, and violence – particularly involving drug, human, and weapons trafficking – continue to increase at an alarming rate in the U.S. Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) are a critical part of this trend and pose a serious and growing threat to homeland security – at our borders and beyond.U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is at the tip of the spear to combat TCOs. With the context that the first goal in their Vision and Strategy 2020 Strategic Plan is Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime, CBP is focusing on disrupting TCOs responsible for the cross-border trafficking of illegal drugs, humans, and guns.

Design Thinking: Putting the Citizen at the Heart of Lasting Change

Design Thinking: Putting the Citizen at the Heart of Lasting Change

For the past few decades, there has been a growing increase in the digital channels available to network with the Federal government. These channels have made it easier for the public to interact and elicit responses from elected officials.These growing interactions have increased expectations for Government to be more transparent and collaborative. From the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the Department of State (DOS), Design Thinking transformations have begun to develop and modernize programs to be more human-centered. Agencies and programs beholden to serve the public good should logically adopt a problem-solving mindset that places the individual at the heart of any lasting changes.

Using Behavioral Science to Improve Mission Outcomes

Using Behavioral Science to Improve Mission Outcomes

Although behavioral science has been studied and applied within academia for decades, recently the concept has emerged everywhere – from Silicon Valley tech giants such as Google and Uber, to various Government agencies including the Department of Education, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture.But defining and applying such a broad and sometimes-nebulous discipline can prove difficult. What exactly is behavioral science? How can the Government use the concepts and lessons learned effectively?

Homeland Security Managers = Innovative Leaders

Homeland Security Managers = Innovative Leaders

The search for and implementation of innovative methods to protect the homeland should play an important role in homeland security managers’ approach to how they guide their organizations. Citizens expect government leaders to propose and implement organizational, acquisition, and personnel management practices that enhance our nation’s ability to prepare for and mitigate potential threats. They expect these to make them safer and the nation more secure.

Exploring the Known: Empowering Innovation by Working Out Loud

Exploring the Known: Empowering Innovation by Working Out Loud

Sharing in-progress work with others – your team, your client, your leaders – can be a daunting prospect. It can also be a great way to share lessons learned, drive quality into everything we do, and build trust. Working Out Loud is “a practice that combines conventional wisdom about relationships with modern ways to reach and engage people”. 

Leaders by Design (Thinking)

Leaders by Design (Thinking)

At Arc Aspicio, our very best assets are our people. In 2017, we introduced a program called the ‘Leaders by Design’ aimed at growing future leaders of our firm in a peer group setting. Leaders by Design is a customized experience for Senior Associates within the company to develop leadership skills and grow professionally and personally by interacting with others with similar experiences and also with senior leaders. The Peer Group is a co-investment to focus on collective growth and development – this means the company invests money and time in developing the training and the growing leaders also invest personal time.

Organization Redesign: Is the Cure Worse than the Ailment?

Organization Redesign: Is the Cure Worse than the Ailment?

According to a popular management joke, new executives should blame their predecessors when facing their first crisis.  When facing their second crisis, they should reorganize everything. Jokes are funny when they’re seen as plausible. Reorganizations show action, produce change, and create opportunities for new leadership. However, are reorganizations worth the disruption?

Arc Aspicio to Host Design Thinking Forum: Creating the Future of Government on June 21

Arc Aspicio to Host Design Thinking Forum: Creating the Future of Government on June 21

Washington, DC, June 7, 2017 — Arc Aspicio plans to host an inaugural Design Thinking Forum featuring a discussion on how Federal leaders can innovate solutions to create the future of Government. Design Thinking is a human-centered innovation process that emphasizes observation, collaboration, fast learning, visualization of ideas, rapid concept prototyping, and concurrent business analysis, which ultimately generates innovation and increased mission outcomes.