“Good intentions aren’t enough. Our impact matters.”
Everyone in the helping professions, from teachers to psychologists, youth workers to leaders, has good intentions. A strong desire and passion for making the lives of the people they serve better.
We start every workshop with the same set of four questions, one of which is a version of “what is it that you hope to accomplish in your day-to-day, month-to-month and year-to-year work with the people in your care?”
Inevitably the answer is something in line with one of these five;
Thankfully, we never hear practitioners or leaders say that they hope to have a negative impact on the people accessing their services. We’d probably suggest a different line of work if they did! But the reality is that good intentions aren’t enough, our programs and services need to be accountable for the real impacts that they have on the people who are relying on them to improve.
Which means we need to talk about our Impact, and have readily available answers to the question posed above.
The reality is that 20% of adults will prematurely drop out of mental health treatment in North America. That children and youth enter the “system” and often get worse. That classic addictions treatment models and programs are both extremely expensive and questionable in their efficacy.
How do you know that your program or service is accomplishing what it sets out to? Too often, in the absence of concrete objectives and outcomes, we’ll turn to “proximate” indicators of success. Number of days in treatment. Number of referrals into or out of the program. Quantity of service delivered.
Or, we’ll find ourselves relying on anecdotes. The story of the kid who did really well and went on to university, returning to the program years later as a dedicated staff member. The client who went on to become a CEO and become a major donor to the organization that helped them.
This isn’t to say that measuring inputs, or relaying important anecdotes and stories of real success, doesn’t have a place in the discussion. It’s to say that we shouldn’t be confusing them with our outcomes and impacts.
We should be able to point to a robust set of outcomes, both quantitative and qualitative, that support the effectiveness and efficiency of our programs and services.
We should have GOOD intentions, and GREAT impacts.
One of the foundational priorities of Responsive Practice is to help practitioners and programs become Feedback Informed, helping to develop and implement both formal and informal mechanisms for organizations to track their impact and dramatically improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Don’t hesitate to be in touch to learn more about our programs and services, and feel free to grab a copy of our 2-page “ Vital Signs: Measuring Change in Mental Health and Addictions Treatment “.