Friday, March 23, 2012

Change Feels Good!


Looking back, I can’t imagine how it could have gone better.  We had the support from the top that we could make some changes. We got the clear message that we all need to make sure partnership is in everything we do, and to make sure we’re living it every day.

During the mini-summit, people were just being so real, focusing on how we can change things instead of getting stuck on just what needed to be changed.  Adding a time for everyone to eat lunch together really made a difference.  Breaking bread together really allowed people to have key conversations in an informal setting.

Participants said that hearing about the mini-summit, and then experiencing it was very different. Everyone really liked the feeling of being able to make change happen, especially working together to make it happen.  Pretty much everyone asked when the next mini-summit would happen, and wanted to do more work.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Everyone Stepped Up for Family Interactions and Family Team Meetings


We certainly saw clarity emerge in our strategies as well. We looked into how we successfully establish a common understanding among all professionals involved, and then talked about what needs we still had. As happened several times throughout the mini-summit, the value of bringing everyone to the table shone through when we talked about the need for the courts to hear everyone’s opinion, even when they differ.

It was really exciting when you could see, in our strategies, that we developed a clear collaborative involvement. Everyone stepped up to play a part and took shared accountability in improving the process of family interactions and family team meetings.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Communication Strategy


We had the same kind of participation. The “Purple Team” was made up of staff from public and private agencies, and they went to individual staff meetings to prepare participants for the mini-summit.  Everyone knew what we’d be talking about, what they were to bring to the table, and so they were able to come ready with some ideas. We actually used the family team meeting model and applied it to the mini-summit, and it really paid off in participation!

We were able to delve right into the strategy development phase, which is what everyone really wanted most. Many ideas were centered around clarifying expectations.  Because of the collaborative nature of the mini-summit, the conversations we had were so informative. No one needed to be cautious with questions or realities – everyone stayed professional and honest, and we figured out ways to establish that clarity.

The other piece was communication, and again – the environment made it possible for everyone to have realistic conversations and produce some great ideas.

It was the same story when we looked at our challenges, strengths and strategies for improvement. We’re all working toward the same goal, but an increase in communication and collaboration on the front end is going to get us closer to the goal. In our strategies, we literally wrote in shared responsibility for communication.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where can we really create change?


We let the team determine the major areas that we should talk about. First we wrote down everything that we could think of that we thought we could improve. Then we asked ourselves, “What can we take off from this list that will really create change?"

The team landed on family team meetings and family interactions – really looking at that process and coming up with a common understanding among all the professionals involved, and strategies to improve the process.

We purposefully mixed up the discussion groups for the maximum diversity of roles, experience, and background, and then went to work.  One really impressive observation I had was about the discussions themselves. We had identified champions of the collaborative process early on, and they had been a part of the monthly planning sessions leading up to the mini-summits, with the understanding that they would act as facilitators. But it ended up we didn’t even need the facilitators to guide discussions back on track!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Focus on Safe Case Closure

For the “Purple Team,” we focused on Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency (FSRP) Services for our work at the mini-summit, really zeroing in on safe case closure, which is the outcome we want for all FSRP cases.

While talking about how we could improve our services, a key issue that kept popping up was “proactive relationships,” so we decided to devote considerable mini-summit time to creating strategies for more proactive relationships.

We identified many strengths, especially around the contribution of different ranges of expertise and working together around specific issues.  We also identified areas of improvement, and a great deal of that revolved around communication.  As partners, we could see the potential for improvements.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Creating the Opportunity for Shared Success


We developed a group that met monthly to design and implement the mini-summits. We started the planning process with the basics, such as who to invite, how to make it convenient for people in a wide geographical are to attend, how long it would be, etc.

When we talked about who should participate, that really brought to the surface how important collaboration would be in improving services. When we talk about coordinating services for families, a lot of people are involved from so many areas. Casting a broad net of participants gave us a comprehensive approach to improving services.

Jamie took charge of the “Purple Team,” which focused on Pottawattamie, Mills, and Fremont counties. I organized the “Pink Team,” representing Audubon, Carroll, Greene, Guthrie, Cass, Montgomery, Page, and Taylor counties.

Jamie and I took the momentum from the statewide summit and plugged it into localized mini-summits.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ideas Welcome Here!


I agree 100% with Connie’s impression of the statewide summit. It was such a great experience to have the free exchange of ideas, but especially under the auspices of collaboration. Going into the meeting with the mutual understanding of shared ownership of goals and outcomes is something new, and establishing that from the beginning opens the door to a whole new set of conversations.

When Connie first started talking about holding a regional mini-summit, I got pretty excited. I knew that bringing that approach to a local level could really bring private and public agencies, as well as other partners involved with families together, and that we could develop better solutions together.