Principle: The management of people, whether staff or clients, is substantially the same.
1. Superordinate Goal: The development process requires:
c) analysis for utility [pleasure/pain]
a) language & concepts
b) relationships [significant/insignificant]
c) roles [barriers/supports]
e) time cycle
a) policy [seeding]
4. Feedback Mechanisms Organization-Staff-clients
5. Response Mechanisms
Function: steer, not row!
A system has inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes.
Both organizations and individuals are systems.
Inputs are resources dedicated to or consumed by a program/individuals in order to achieve program/individual objectives. For programs, these would include, for example, staff, volunteers, facilities, equipment, curricula, service delivery technology, and funds. But most importantly, for programs, the inputs include clients.
For individuals inputs would include senses, schema, and all of the connecting central nervous system. Finally, the most important input is external stimuli which meet the Bateson test of ‘a difference that makes a difference’ and becomes information.
Inputs also include constraints on the program, such as laws, regulation, and requirements for receipt of funding. Individual constraints include beliefs and values.
A program/individual uses inputs to support activities.
Processes are what a program does with its inputs – the activities it undertakes -the services it provides – to fulfill its mission. Program activities result in outputs.
Similarly, and individual processes information, going through cognitive [analysis] and affective [valuation] stages. Cognitive processes refers to the thoughts and images [self-statements, attributions, expectancies, appraisals, etc.] that precede, accompany and follow overt behaviors, as well as the thinking skills and styles of information processing that the individual employs in social situations. The processing uses appraisals, evaluations, comparisons, etc., to reach conclusions which then result in outputs.
Outputs are products of a program’s activities and usually measured in terms of the volume of the work accomplished, such as the number of meals provided, classes taught, brochures distributed or participants served. Another term for outputs is ‘units of service’. Programs like to show an increase in ‘units of service’ to demonstrate increased organizational performance. ‘Units of service’ only indicate the amount of activity, although they may demonstrate a level of efficiency [if we can provide more ‘units of service’ at less cost than other organizations]. However, these outputs have little inherent value in themselves. They show only a ‘custodial’ measure and have no impact on the effectiveness of the organization. It is possible that an organization increase its ‘units of service’ each year and lowers cost each year and yet does not help a single client achieve an enhanced quality of performance in living.
For individuals, outputs are mostly overt behaviors, although some thoughts about cognitive processes result in ‘memories’ that are stored for future use. Overt behavior refers to directly observable behaviors, or what the individual does both verbally and nonverbally in an interpersonal context. Both the overt behavior outputs and the memory outcomes ultimately result in outcomes, although the memory outcomes are often delayed.
Outcomes are benefits received by participants during or after their involvement with a program. Outcomes may relate to knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, behavior, condition or status. For a particular program there may be ‘levels’ of outcomes, with initial outcomes leading to longer term outcomes. For example, a youth in a mentoring program may attend school more regularly, which can lead to getting better grades, which can lead to graduation, which can lead to employment, which can lead to self sufficiency, etc.
Individual outcomes are benefits received by the individual as a result of their overt behaviors. The impact of overt behavior on the environment results in outcomes that are either desired [move one toward one’s goals] or undesired [block movement toward one’s goals] or inert.
Outcomes for either programs or individuals cannot be valuated unless there is a goal to be reached or standard against which to measure. When goals or standards are nonconscious, there is often confusion about 1) how to reach the goal and 2) how to determine whether the movement is toward the goal or not. Thus, the setting of conscious and unambiguous goals is a major factor in attaining successful outcomes.
It must be noted that a programs goal development process must include an individual goal development process. Each individual in the organization makes an follows the input, processing, output design when faced with the workplace. The outputs [overt behavior] and outcomes [meeting personal goals/standard] must be consistent in order for the program to succeed. The program seeks obedience and fidelity, but not in the terms that obedience is normally construed.
Gabriel Marcel  explores in depth this term, and although his focus is on religion, some of his thoughts bear consideration. He suggests that we must first, reconsider the construct of obedience: “An adult who was obedient in his whole manner of living…would be unworthy of the name of man.” “ Obedience, he suggests, “is a function, hence the duty of obedience does not fundamentally and necessarily involve the being of him who obeys.” Marcel is limiting the obedience to that which one has committed himself. And even here, there are parameters: “Would it not be better …to recognize that the only true fidelity is fidelity to myself, and that it is by such fidelity alone that I can give proof of what is incorrectly regarded as fidelity to another? In other words, I may make it a point of honor to perform certain actions which are to the advantage of another person, but in the last analysis my only real obligation is to myself.”
Marcel does not mean, of course, that we can therefore whimsically decide to be obedient to one master one day and a different one tomorrow. To be true to oneself is a rigorous activity that demands first, that one consciously commits him or herself to obedience and fidelity with clear awareness and deliberation. Frivolous commitment is to avoid one’s own sense of right and wrong. Using the construct of agency, one must commit to the program’s intent in order to become an agent of the program. Having made the commitment, however, one is required to continued awareness. “If I admit without discussion that to be faithful to myself means to be faithful to certain principles which I have adopted once and for all, I am in danger of introducing into my life a foreign, and we can even say … destructive…element.” “If I were absolutely sincere I should have to compel myself to examine these principles at frequent intervals, and to ask myself periodically whether they still correspond to what I think and believe” [Marcel – 1951 – emphasis ours].
Awareness, consciousness of our thoughts and actions is a requirement of duty, obedience and fidelity. Taking a position as a public or human servant requires that the individual, and through these individuals, the organization, rigorously analyze their own behavior in light of coherence to their avowed beliefs. This is not easy to do, particularly if the program’s goals, expectations, etc are nebulous. Such rigorous thinking takes energy, and we may not be prepared to deal with the consequences of what we find needs to be done. But this is the requirement of duty and service. And the public and human service person has a higher duty to maintain.
The program’s principles that each individual needs to examine need to be spelled out in mission, values, policy and procedure.
Systems management must control:
1) planning: This is concerned with the reduction of uncertainty through identification of the specifications of the problem and the strategies of response.
This requires a clear understanding [demographics, nature, location, etc.] of the target population and decision making regarding the articulation of goals or purpose. Does, for example, the public policy intend to protect the public OR to help the clientele reach their aspirations? While these two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they often are.
2) gate keeping: The determination of acceptable inputs [who comes into the system], how they come into the system, and what [processes] services and supports will be made available to them.
This involves control over the specificity of eligibility decision points [what problems in living are eligible for services and supports] and the intake [financial determination, etc.] process.
3) assessment: the determination of input quality and financial commitment.
This involves the process of evaluating the quality of the inputs [potential customers] and the determination of what it will take in resources, time and type of service and supports [plan of change & budget] to correct eligible problems in living.
4) assignment: the venue of services available and which are available.
This includes the design of the process for connecting inputs with processors [clients with providers]. It is managements function to define outcome expectations] what is to be changed to what condition, in what period of time. It is the provider’s function to determine how to reach those outcome expectations in the most efficient and effective manner.
5) monitoring: the determination of whether the right things are being done and whether they are being done right.
This includes a determination of how the provider is approaching the change expectations and whether this process is being effective [showing change progress] and efficient [within proper time limits, personal constraints of the client (the degree of client satisfaction and gratification attained) and policy constraints of the system (the moral and ethical boundaries)]. The feedback of how the change was effected and in what degree is critical to the evaluation function.
6) evaluation: measurement of substantive impact of the services and supports.
This requires outcome data collection of formative [how do we begin to match the input with the process], summative [what progress is shown by the input within a process over time] and cumulative [what is the additive quality of many inputs in multiple processes compared over time] nature.
7) development: identification and creation of new products [service and support protocols, technology, and procedures to replace those that fail and the training of these technology changes.
This is a response mechanism that requires the feedback of the monitoring and evaluation process as well as the additive of ‘best practice’ literature to continuously improve the quality of the input/process/outcome match. The two products of this component are improved technology and improved direct service staff.
Systems management must not control, except within the constraints developed by ethical and moral judgements based on public policy, the process used by providers to attain the outcome expectations. Do not tell teachers how to teach or clinicians how to intervene, expect to present opportunities to these people to learn new protocols, techniques and procedures identified as having merit.
8) allocation or resources: financial rewards in particular must go only to successful [efficient and effective] outcome achievement.
Over time, financial reinforcement will encourage creative and innovative approaches that push the boundaries of knowledge further and eliminate provider organizations that are inefficient and ineffective. This market test of the provider system will make continuous quality of the entire system a possibility.