Organizational Effectiveness Empowers Agency Transformation

By Wareing, Tracy | Policy & Practice, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Organizational Effectiveness Empowers Agency Transformation


Wareing, Tracy, Policy & Practice


We are energized by the continued progress and momentum of our members' Pathways initiative. The theme of this year's APHSA Policy Forum--"From Innovation to Transformation"--reflects the continued commitment of our members to identify better ways of doing business in order to develop a human service system that is modern, outcome-focused, and sustainable.

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Creating "space" in our world for innovation to happen is challenging. Our organizational structures, compliance-driven business models, and deep-seated agency cultures don't necessarily promote environments where innovation is embraced, let alone more "transformative" ways of doing business.

At APHSA, through several components of our Pathways initiative, we are working to develop guidance and provide technical assistance to support public human service agencies' transformation efforts. Over the course of 2013, we will continue to help our members build the tools they need to advance a 21st century business model and move their organizations to a more generative state.

A focused approach on organization development and effectiveness is one such way in which we can assist members in their transformation efforts. APHSA's Organizational Effectiveness (OE) practice is based on the principle that in order to improve things an agency must:

* Define priority improvements in operational terms

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* Assess observable, measurable strengths and gaps, and identify root causes and general remedies for priority gaps

* Plan quick wins, mid-term, and longer-term improvements

* Implement action plans while managing communication and capacity

* Monitor progress, impact, and lessons learned to strengthen accountability and make on-going adjustments

We call this method of improving something DAPIM.[TM] Organizations experienced in DAPIM[TM] use it to continuously improve everything they do, no matter how big or small. They may be engaged in a multi-year effort to make fundamental improvements to practice while running multiple, tightly focused continuous improvement projects to eliminate inefficient processes, respond to unexpected shifts in the environment, and overcome obstacles.

In our experience having an operationally defined "D" is one of the key elements that can make a continuous improvement effort succeed (or fail without one). Often agencies start at the "A" and seek to assess themselves not against a realistic desired future state. This is why initiatives sometimes seem disconnected to the work--agencies implement changes or bring in new initiatives without a direct line of sight to their "D" (desired future state).

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