Why work in alignment? Because we don’t have the luxury to waste time and resources.
“TERMS OF SURVIVAL” SERIES
This twenty-part series introduces you to twenty key terms used in a local mobilizing process that you and your community will require to survive and thrive during colliding crises. The articles will reference the three-headed hydra of apathy, envy and fear, those people in positions of power who are fighting to keep a broken status quo.
Concept 12: working in alignment
Let’s first talk about pie. Scarcity mentality refers to people seeing life as one pie. Just one. And there won’t be another one. So we better hoar what we have. We limit our vision of what’s possible. Scarcity mentality is the opposite of abundance mentality.
In times of economic free fall, scarcity thinking is rampant. When it comes to budgets for local governments to ponder, the leaders may only see one tiny pie. State lawmakers, city councilors and county commissioners get very nervous and rightly so. Questions abound. What is our revenue? Our expenses? Can we survive the year with our current pie? Could we ever bake a bigger pie?
There are other questions about state and local government to ask. What is the priority of the government? Where does access to services for surviving, like medical care, fit in? Is an investment in services for thriving, like job training, prudent?
Lastly, government leaders can ask about alignment between city and county services, and the state agencies and nongovernmental organizations working on the local level. To what degree do we duplicate efforts? How aligned is the workforce in all our sectors, from mental health care to education? Can we assess what each government department and staff member actually do in a day and how those activities get us to our goal of serving the public in measurable and meaningful ways?
Bottom line: if we align the work of government and nongovernmental organizations, we save money, time and energy in ways that add up to millions of dollars.
Alignment saves money and energy.
All our work with the 100% Community initiative is designed to be working in alignment with all existing data-driven local efforts. As we work to increase access to ten vital services, we seek to combine our forces with those county residents already working on such a process in each of the ten sectors for surviving and thriving.
In alignment (always)
One of the first things we usually hear when we convene a group of government agency leaders to discuss services needed to strengthen families is “we are already doing that.” And in some communities, that’s true: committees exist, task forces meet regularly and progress is being made. In other communities and agencies, people meet, talk, update, network and eat. But there is no progress made toward problem-solving. You won’t know if a task force is focused on convening and the illusion of doing something or data-driven, result-focused action until you check for yourself.
As you will discover when you engage with the 100% Community initiative, one of the first things participants do is an assessment of everything their county is currently doing to serve residents in our ten vital sectors and economic development. This process brings good news and bad news.
Good new first
The good news is that you will discover hard working people doing important work in a wide variety of sectors. Most city governments and county governments have staff that work in vital services like law enforcement, fire and parks. Some will have community services that can include all sorts of programs for kids and the elderly. School districts may have a health department of some sort, possibly with a trained psychologist. And there may be, depending on the size and location of your county, hundreds of nonprofit organizations (called NGOs in some circles) working on a wide variety of community projects, some of which are related to health, safety and education.
The bad news.
The bad news is that most of these people won’t know what the others are really doing, even though they serve the same populations in a handful of zip codes. It is not uncommon for a county government staff person overseeing mental health services with absolutely no idea what the city government staff person overseeing mental health services is doing. No alignment. No sharing of strategic plans, even though they serve the same people. We have lots of ideas about why people like their silos and fear sharing any information about the local work but, suffice it to say, that era is over for two reasons.
One: Software is forcing everyone in government to be transparent and many old-time employees are being dragged into the information age kicking and screaming.
Two: Economic free fall means we cannot afford to duplicate and waste.
Back to good news
The good news is that the 100% Community initiative links every human taking part in the mission of ensuring that ten vital services reach all residents. This is done with both good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting and communication technology. We never want to reinvent the wheel or duplicate current efforts that work well. We do, however, wish to evaluate all the work currently in play to assess its effectiveness. We have the technology to create a seamless countywide system of communication between organizations and within the organization so that we know, 24/7, who is working on a given program and what the expected outcome is.
When we align, combing our superhero powers, we make measurable progress every day. Will it be easy to move a work culture that has worked out of alignment since it was invented? This gets right back to concept 10: adaptive leadership and resistance to change. We must allow for push back, fear and confusion.
We must also make it very clear to all involved that in an era of pandemics and economic free fall, we’re all in this together, so it’s not a question of if we align to commit to collaboration, but how soon.
See 100% Community, Chapter 37: When Epidemics Collide, It’s Time for People to Collaborate
The future is what we make it. Join the evolution.
Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human or three-headed hydra, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Questions? Answers await you here: www.tenvitalservices.org