My process for change includes five core concepts that I have found are critical to liberating potential in human services organizations. Through effective vision mapping, knowledge assimilation, problem-solving, partnering, and action planning, an organization is empowered to have the greatest possible impact in the world.

Process for Change #1: Clarify the Why

One of the biggest problems I have seen in human services agencies is the lack of a clear, cohesive vision to guide all aspects of the organization. This may be due to several factors:

  • The vision was never clearly articulated when the organization was founded.

  • The original vision has been diluted over time and with changing leadership.

  • The organization is trying to be too many things to too many people rather than hone in on a clear mission.

  • People working in the organization were brought in without a clear understanding of the agency’s vision and now operate more out of their own personal sense of mission.

Start with the Why!

The solution is to define a clear vision that is easily understood by staff, clients, and collaboration partners and that compels consistent action to bring the agency’s mission to life. This vision is the “Why” that drives how and what the organization does to serve the needs of their target client base. It is the belief or cause so big and compelling that it carries the organization through inevitable hurdles and setbacks and inspires others to join the vision.

I work with impact-focused human services organizations to define a clear “Why,” communicate the vision to relevant stakeholders, and ensure that the vision is embedded in all aspects of the organization. This “Why” is the foundation that empowers an organization to reach its fullest potential in service of clients.

Process #2: Synthesize and Leverage Key Learnings

Knowledge is power. Organizations in the business world practice this concept regularly, yet human services organizations too often forget the crucial need for knowledge and key learnings to drive change. It is easy to get caught up in the passion of a worthy cause without confirming that the target client base truly perceives it as an unmet need, that a program is based on evidence, or that data proves the organization is meeting its social impact goals.

What exactly are key learnings?

Here is just a quick snapshot of the critical knowledge needed by impact-focused human services organizations:

  • Market research to identify unmet needs and opportunities that match the organization’s “Why.”

  • Evidence-based practices to guide development of new programs and service deliverables.

  • Relevant academic research and new industry findings to shape programs and operational processes.

  • Performance metrics within the organization to ensure that grant requirements and key needs of the target client base are met as efficiently and effectively as possible.

In all of my work with human services organizations, I gather, synthesize, and leverage key market, industry, and organizational data as a foundation to empower the organization to operate at optimal potential.

Process #3: Simplify to the Heart of What Matters

Unnecessary complexity, chaos, and “clutter” in its operations and processes can quickly derail the impact of a human services organization. Here are a few examples of this kind of unnecessary complexity:

  • Redundant processes are completed by different people in the organization to accomplish a single task.

  • Policies and procedures are updated without erasing the old, resulting in staff being guided by outdated information.

  • Projects and routine tasks include extra steps that contribute nothing to the end deliverable.

  • Roles and task assignments are not clearly defined, leading to necessary activities being overlooked or duplicated by multiple people in the organization.

Simplify to get to the heart of what really matters in an organization.

I work with human services organizations to define policies, processes, and operational procedures that are aligned with their core mission, eliminate redundancies, and simplify to eradicate unnecessary complexity and chaos. This frees the organizations to focus more energy and resources on fulfilling their vision for change in the world with maximum efficiency.

Process for Change #4: Build Collaborations

Two heads really are better than one when it comes to solving big problems in the world. Few things are as essential to the success of human services organizations as teaming and collaboration. When people within the organization collaborate effectively, the group as a whole is able to accomplish more with less effort. When organizations build collaborations with external stakeholders that share a common vision, more innovative solutions emerge and organizations are able to optimize resources in service of the shared mission or target client group.

Build collaborations internally and externally in service of a shared Why.

Here are a few ways that I use this process for change to help impact-focused human services organizations reach their full potential:

  • Embed processes for teaming within the organization to improve operational efficiency and impact.

  • Facilitate brainstorming sessions to spark idea generation and knowledge sharing.

  • Identify key external collaboration partners to expand the organization’s reach and optimize the use of resources deployed to serve the same vision or client group.

By strengthening a human services organization’s ability to team effectively and build collaborations internally and externally, I help the organization tap into a whole new level of potential for positive change in the world.

Process #5: Create a Roadmap and Evaluate Progress

Every truly effective human services organization has two things: 1) a strategic roadmap that guides actions on a daily basis, and 2) processes in place to consistently evaluate progress against that roadmap.

What happens to an organization without a roadmap or rigorous evaluation process?

  • The organization appears adrift, unable to gain traction to achieve their vision for positive change in the world.

  • Precious resources are wasted on activities that are only minimally effective to achieve the organization’s vision.

  • Staff feel overwhelmed and burned out sooner without a clear direction and evidence that their efforts are producing the desired results.

  • Potential collaboration partners, including funders, are less likely to join with the organization.

Strategic planning and program evaluation are just two of the key ways that I use this process for change to empower impact-focused human services organizations to achieve their full potential.