Individuals who work daily in service to their communities spend their entire careers facing a painful dilemma: either provide immediate help for the people or cease help temporarily so to restructure and hopefully improve for the future. The Slaughter Development team enables non-profits and government agencies to escape this crucible through a non-invasive diagnostic process and best-fit solution implementation. For non-business clients, we prefer ongoing relationships, as these organizations must maintain their services and their public commitment in perpetuity. Positive improvements to social services—especially to improve and streamline bureaucracies—is an ideal application of methodology engineering.
Challenges for Non-Profit and Government Agencies
The greatest struggle for the government/non-profit sector is the widespread perception that bureaucracies cannot change. Seemingly everyone believes that public entities are not only wasteful and inefficient, but nearly impossible to improve. Even worse, this notion has spread to those on the inside. If you are unsure that improvement is even possible, then pursuing methodology engineering will first require finding hope for better organizational processes.
Dr. Kevin Rand, a psychology researcher at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has found that active optimism influences our ability to make good decisions and strongly correlates with performance. Distributing a dispositional Likert scale assessment (in the form of a short questionnaire) can help determine the most appropriate change model for an organization. This evaluation is one of the first positive messages communicated to a team in a methodology engineering lifecycle. Measuring, promoting and rallying optimism and ownership is especially effective in non-profit and government agencies; especially since individual employees often feel that change is rare and change agents rarely consider the needs of stakeholders.
Does methodology engineering at your organization sound like a pipe dream? Consider the case of one worker at a mid-sized agency, who made a surprising argument to his boss:
The Turnaround Deal
In the wake of cutbacks and rising expectations, Fred was working harder than ever before. His primary job function at the city office—which he used to share with another colleague—was writing content for various internal and external publications. Overall quality and response times began to slip. Fred approached his boss to discuss the problem.
“I wish I could help,” came the reply. “But we don’t have any money in the budget to hire more help or pay a consulting firm.”
Fred was downtrodden, but not defeated. He knew his boss was under pressure as well, so he made a bold offer. “What if I could find a way to get all of my work done only twenty hours a week, at the level of quality you expect? Would that be of any value to you?”
Fred’s boss was skeptical, but willing to entertain the idea. “I really doubt that you could do that, but you know Sally did ask to go part-time and you could cover her work.”
Now Fred saw the opportunity clearly. With the extra money in the budget from Sally’s reduced salary, there would be some funds available to cover the cost of developing new processes or setting up new new tools. Fred convinced his boss to earmark the budget contingent upon the success of this proposal. Fred used some of the money from his own small discretionary budget to start up the engagement. Within a few weeks, Fred had some standardized forms, a few customizations to existing software systems, and a new workflow management utility that started saving him time. When he took over half of Sally’s responsibilities a month latter, Fred’s boss was stunned but kept his word. The department paid the open invoices and began discussing a larger review of workplace systems.