Change Management


What does it look like when continuous improvement and innovation have been well-established and 

realized in the daily operation?


Continuous Improvement and Frontline Practice


At this “micro” level of change management, the DAPIMTM flywheel and related methods can be easily 

adapted to support direct field staff in helping the people they serve through a change management 

process of their own, helping them learn how to:

  • Define improvement areasand a desired future for themselves in concrete terms
  • Assess their current situation, including both strengths and gaps, and determine the root causes of those gaps 
  • Plan and implement remedies to address those root causes, leveraging their strengths as they close those gaps 
  • Monitor those plans and activities at each family or youth meeting

Continuous Improvement and Quality Assurance


CI as an ongoing practice within an agency is either targeted to change plan priorities, to 

specific “hot spot” improvement or innovation topics that arise on an ongoing basis, or to the 

routine operational work of quality assurance and improvement (QA). Whether focused on case 

management or other vital processes within the agency, effectiveQA processes use criteria for 

satisfaction and measures of quality that are directly related to agency strategy, and they examine 

all of the relevant, informative points in the process being evaluated. For example, a quality 

check at intake that monitors and troubleshoots accuracy and timeliness will not be sufficient if 

an agency’s strategic objectives include reducing disparity, improving service perceptions, or 

connecting an individual or family to a fuller range of services when needed.


Effective agencies establish roles and required skills for their QA specialists such that they are 

able to facilitate “micro” continuous improvement efforts with their internal clients, whether that 

is for a particular worker’s struggles, a pattern of problems at a particular point in the casework 

process, or for the CFSR and PIP efforts as a whole.


Role Clarity


The ultimate responsibility for change plans and sponsoring continuous improvement efforts rests 

with the executive team. Assessing and building agency readiness for change are ultimately the 

responsibility of department, program and function heads. Designing and refining key processes are 

the responsibility of middle management, and daily performance in alignment with change and 

continuous improvement priorities is the responsibility of supervisors and frontline staff. 

Multiple hats are common in smaller agencies.




Supervisor performance is crucial for sustaining change plans and continuous improvement efforts. 

Supervisors support and reinforce the effective implementation of plans and projects, build and 

maintain staff support and either enfranchise constructive resistance or minimize non-constructive 

resistance, and connect operational data and perspectives back to change and CI efforts as part of 

effective monitoring. And effective supervisors use the same CI approach and steps when coaching 

their staff as are used in “mezzo” CI initiatives.


Staff Perceptions and Feelings


In effective change efforts, the typical member of the staff is engaged in the change process in a 

way they feel is important, feels a sense of excitement and hopefulness about the particular change effort underway, and believes the agency continuously improves itself and employs progressive and innovative programs and practices. 

Agency communication mechanisms (e.g., newsletters, intranet sites, town hall meetings, 

supervisor-led unit meetings) are shaped around key messages that reinforce this. Staff provide 

ongoing feedback and a frontline/direct service perspective to those sponsoring change efforts. 

Strengths and progress can be discerned through staff climate studies, focus groups and/or action 



Support Functions


A planning function well-connected to a communications function is a useful mechanism for 

supporting agency-wide change plan work. HR, Training, IT and Finance also play critical supportive 

roles in change planning as well as in many facets of continuous improvement, and must be included 

from the beginning and throughout such efforts.


Diversity and Inclusiveness


Agencies who are continuously improving do so in a highly participative way, bringing together 

points of view from a number of different levels and functions within an agency, as well as from 

stakeholders and those served. Innovations and novel solutions are often achieved as the result of 

adding minority or previously marginalized perspectives to more commonly held viewpoints. The 

dialogues that occur result in participants knowing and valuing each other in a more in-depth way 

and listening to each other sufficiently to discover common ground, as opposed to “labeling” each 

other from a distance as “different and threatening,” never moving on to constructive problem 

solving and at times, breakthrough innovation. These dialogues serve to reinforce the values within 

a culture that is able to identify and reduce disparity and ultimately disproportionality.


Data Collection and Analysis


“Good” data are needed for baseline assessment, root cause analysis, and ongoing monitoring of both 

broad change plans (e.g., environmental scanning) and targeted continuous improvement projects. 

Information services resources must be in place that:

  • Measure progress being made by each child, youth and family over time 
  • Balance quantitative and qualitative factors
  • Collect and analyze feedback from children and families served as well as stakeholders 
  • Include data about private provider and other partner services and their impact
  • Are worker-friendly and accessible.

Learning Organizations


To the extent that an agency does its work systematically and collaboratively, taking the time to 

reflect on real-world experiences and the lessons inherent in them, effective knowledge management 

and a learning organization will be the result. In effective learning environments, participants 

feel both safe enough to be open and collaborative as well as accountable for making improvements 

to their performance and capacity. Learning takes place in a well-managed way at many points within 

effective change efforts as:

  • Change plans are developed to expand upon and deepen strategic plans 
  • Assessment takes place within change planning and continuous improvement 
  • Services, programs, processes and tools are designed or revamped to address gaps 
  • Constructive feedback from resisters is considered and enfranchised
  • Data are manipulated, analyzed and converted into knowledge and insight 
  • Decisions are made in a more participative, inclusive manner
  • Continuous improvement teams and working committees solve problems within specified boundaries 
  • Quick wins, plans and new designs are implemented, experienced and monitored
  • Legacy ways of doing things that cannot be demonstrated to add significant value (“sacred cows”) are discarded as part of agency capacity building
  • Successes, challenges and lessons learned are shared across programs, functions and regions
  • Innovative staff development efforts and rich communication initiatives are launched in alignment with change plan priorities
  • Case studies are written, presentations are made and cross-departmental mentoring occurs to capitalize on successful change  management experiences
  • Continuous improvement methods and techniques are internalized by individuals and teams, and connections are madebetween those applied to organizational issues and those used with children, youth and families



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PCG Human Services
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