Our Unique Approach


We use a variety of innovative approaches, models, tools and methodologies to stimulate thinking, ignite creativity and uncover insights – all with the objective of developing customized solutions to help our clients achieve their strategic and tactical goals.

Drawing on decades of experience working with government, industry and nonprofit organizations, we engage clients in interactive sessions – seminars, symposia or other specially tailored activities – designed to encourage engagement and ideation. We enable individuals and teams to “think visually” with proven techniques such as design thinking, graphic illustration, and creating customized scenarios and personas that focus on improving person-centered care and system-wide change. As appropriate, we also use extensive data analysis, consumer-research and environmental scans to more-fully understand the client’s market and customer needs. Finally, we apply a structured analytical methodology to create strategic action plans that can be readily implemented, monitored, measured and updated (as needed).


A major reason our work has been so successful and influential is that it is guided by two evidence- and experience-informed, results-driven models: The Stewards of Change Human Services 2.0 Theory of Change, a conceptual framework that enables clients to integrate and optimize their systems and service delivery; and InterOptimability, our unique methodology for helping clients map and actualize their goals.

In particular, InterOptimability enables organizations to customize and operationalize the Human Services Value Curve (see graphic on right), a framework for helping clients transform their operations and improve their outcomes. Also integral to our approach are the Stewards’ 10 Change Drivers (see below) and our maturity matrix; together, they provide a holistic view of relevant policy and practice, as well as the client’s structural and organizational competencies, to form the bedrock for successful interoperability initiatives.


Stewards of Change’s 10 InterOptimability Change Drivers include a range of organizational, operational and technological competencies – all originally derived from our study of successful interoperability initiatives across the country. Employing a variety of analytic and survey tools, our readiness assessment creates baseline measures for each driver. This information provides guidance for our clients to develop data-driven project plans, as well as to identify development and investment priorities. An additional benefit is that clients can then use their baselines to assess the progress of their interoperability-related projects over time.

Customer-centric focus makes better client outcomes the foremost goal of the InterOptimability process. By improving organizational awareness of, and sensitivity to, consumers’ strengths, limitations, resources, needs, and preferences, it helps ensure that clients can communicate openly with agency personnel and that services are delivered in a meaningful and satisfying manner.
Building open and inclusive processes refer to the degree to which all external stakeholders, including those outside the organization — the courts, funders, legislators, private providers and the public at large — can access information about a department’s services and accountability measures. It also relates to the depth of communication and collaboration in which the organization routinely engages.
Data & performance measurement systems help determine how much and how well the organization and its users work with data, including data collection, storage, access, sharing, usage, and analysis. The output from this driver informs performance metrics for individual workers, programs and the organization as a whole.
Funding and resourcing focus on the organization’s ability to pay for the people, systems, and tools fundamental to ongoing operations and innovation. It includes the department’s ability to maximize funding from local, state, federal and alternative sources.
Leadership & governance are intimately linked to the organization’s ultimate mission and vision. Governance provides the policies, systems, and decisions that establish that vision, authority, and responsibility, and affects how initiatives are measured. Leadership guides the implementation and strategies provided by the governance structure.
Bridging service silos involves planning and providing services in a streamlined, coordinated way across multiple programs. It addresses the organization’s ability to work holistically and collaboratively across programs, increasing data portability and securely linking people, information and services to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
Confidentiality & privacy information management addresses an organization’s need to store, use and share regulated information. It covers policies and practices about safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining confidentiality within legal bounds. It also encompasses employee knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes about the policies and boundaries of information sharing.
Public & political will refers to the degree to which government leaders and their constituents understand and have confidence in the organization. Contributing factors include the groups’ awareness of organizational direction, the strength of each group’s belief in that direction, and the ability of the organization to deliver the results promised.
Workforce, workflow & training relates to the systems and supports necessary for workers to do their jobs effectively, meeting responsibilities to both the organization and its customers. It encompasses worker satisfaction and retention as well.
Technology framework encompasses all hardware and software architecture, systems and functionality that enable the organization’s IT processes, including data collection, storage, and sharing.