Third in a Multipart Series on the Past Decade's Health and Human Services Journey.

Author:Evans, Tracy Wareing
Position:President's memo - Column

Over the past five years, we witnessed the Human Services Value Curve gain traction and go viral as a shared model of interpretation. We learned that when it is used as a lens it is a highly adaptive framework that is useful at multiple levels--from our perspective as an individual leader to an organizational vantage point within our agency to a systems level where we can view the broader landscape and consider population-level impacts. Perhaps, most important, we have come to understand that the stages of the Value Curve themselves are holistic, dynamic, and together form a kind of continuous learning cycle, which is amplified when we work at each stage through a generative frame. Indeed, as I look back at our shared experiences and learning, it is this generative frame that has been a key to our evolution as a field.

The generative way of thinking has helped us to understand why we must apply whole family approaches that simultaneously recognize parents as both breadwinners and caregivers and why we must look to the social determinants of health and well-being if we are to unearth root causes. It is the generative frame that has also helped us to understand that we must shift the way we partner--from transactional arrangements to co-creating solutions together. We are working to reshape traditional business and practice models by shifting our services upstream and creating generative partnerships, especially with the community-based organizations that are closest to the ground. These partnerships are designed to strengthen each other and ensure a social determinants of health and well-being orientation in order to meet families and communities where they are and where they dream. And, through the generative frame, we recognize that to do so we must establish greater connectivity with multiple, related sectors--health, public health, education (schools), housing, employment, law enforcement, justice, transportation, and, more recently, the environment.

The generative frame has also helped us shift our narrative to what is possible--one conveying that we are in the prevention, "igniting potential" and solution-finding business, not in the post-trauma rescue and recovery business. And, the imperative to SHOW, not simply tell what's possible, became increasingly clear. By connecting pioneers in the field with first adopters and then accelerators, we began to see the mental model shifts occurring in the field take hold. As we have made these mental model shifts, we have moved from seeing a series of programs and how to integrate them to a systems-level approach that is grounded in the context of where people live, learn, work, and age. (For a closer look at the mental model shifts that have come to light over the last decade and why they matter, take a look at the article I co-authored with Phil Basso in this issue.)

At APHSA, with and through our members, we are distilling this learning from the field through our Strategic Playbook that has evolved from an internal membership association plan to a visual framework adopted by health and human services organizations across the country, to a clear theory of change and an agile playbook that has helped us meet members where they are and where they want to be.

In the next issue, I'll share how two recent game changers--the field's heightened focus on the well-being of the health and human services workforce and its evolving understanding of the need to create opportunity ecosystems--are shaping our next decade of work and impact. In the meantime, we would love to hear how the generative frame has shaped your own thinking and actions. You can post your experiences, success stories, and lessons learned through MyAPHSA Communities. Learn more at

Reference Note

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By Tracy Wareing Evans

About this Series

In this third part of my reflections on the past decade, I take a closer look at how the frames and lenses we are now applying to our work in human services have shifted our thinking and generated new ways of doing business. In the first two columns, we looked at the context that impacted our field a decade ago and how the imperative for better outcomes drove this transformational shift. We also shared how the changing environmental landscape and the evolving focus of the field since 2010 have been reflected in the very pages of this magazine. In this issue, you will see the timeline completed through 2017 and then I'll close out the series in April's issue by bringing us to the present and exploring what's on the horizon for the next decade.

P&P Issue Director's Memo February Leading Change: Moving Human Services Delivery 2015 in 2015 * Decoding the Value Curve * Pathways learnings and next steps * Partnerships to improve the child welfare workforce * Adaptive leadership in Massachusetts * Leading change through a future focus April 2015 The Consumer Voice: How Human Services Can...

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