Children’s Friend is PBN’s “Most Innovative Nonprofit in Rhode Island”! What does innovation mean, anyway?

What does Children’s Friend have to do with a construction management company and a machinery distributor?  Well, we have all been recognized as leaders in innovation in Rhode Island!  This August, Children’s Friend was recognized by Providence Business News as a 2021 Most Innovative Company in the nonprofit category.

We are grateful to get to celebrate the hard work of so many staff who have innovated at Children’s Friend over the last years.  This is also an opportune moment for us to reflect on what “innovation” really means at Children’s Friend.  The dictionary says to innovate is to “make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.”  The Latin root of “innovate” is “novus,” which means “new.”

So does innovation mean we have to create something shiny and brand new, ideally with technology involved, topped off with a shiny chrome finish?  At Children’s Friend, the answer is a resounding “no”!  Instead, we focus on noticing where we are already at our best, understanding what got us there, and enabling ourselves to do more of that or apply those lessons elsewhere.  And, innovation doesn’t happen when one person goes away by themselves to think hard!  Our innovation process is “human-centered,” which means that the people most impacted by a particular challenge or opportunity are the ones designing and implementing the innovation. 

At Children’s Friend, innovation doesn’t mean that we’re churning out fancy new products – but what we are doing is much more meaningful for our industry: Our amazing staff is making small and big changes every day in order to better serve kids and families. 

Robert Hagberg Chief of Strategy