Connecting with a community takes place through communicating and engaging with a community of individuals. This definition suggests the establishment of a relationship or some type of “action between a receiver and a giver.” There is less action suggested in defining connecting which implies “to link or join.” This definition suggests there is either a receiver or a giver.
Within human services, the assumption is that there is active interaction and participation between both the receiver and the giver. Each role is changed or shared overtime. Acknowledging role changes leads to a new level of sustainability for those who share the goals of the community.
The three skills that are important to the establishment and maintenance of an active relationship are knowledge, organization and service coordination. Three skill subsets exist for this competency and appear below.
KNOWLEDGE – SERIES 5.1
Connecting and Knowledge skills
Aristotle (384-322B.C.) wrote, “All men by nature desire knowledge.” This desire, according to Aristotle, seeks to increase awareness or familiarity with a person, place or thing obtained through experience. When thinking about “knowledge,” there are two words often related to “knowledge,” one “to know (n),” and another word, “knowing” (transitive verb). “To know,” indicates what one has in mind, a clear perception of what one has learned. “Knowing,” on the other hand means to be sure, informed or aware. “To know,” a community indicates implies that there is knowledge available about a community but perhaps that knowledge has come through sources other than the community.
“Knowing,” a community implies actually being active within the community. Being active takes time to develop a level of knowledge as well as direct involvement with the community. Through the “knowing” experience, an individual’s knowledge increases to become a knowledge base that leads to a sense of power through knowledge. Three different types of knowledge develop from this idea, knowledge management, situated knowledge and sociology of knowledge.
A multi-discipline approach is included in knowledge management. It includes organizational objectives. It seeks to understand the use and trading of knowledge within organizations. Identifying knowledge through this process becomes information that exists in the minds of individuals. As the individual brings this information forward it appears innovative, lessons are shared which help to improve the organization. Examples of this type of knowledge exist through cross-project learning, after action reviews and knowledge mapping. An outcome of this process is the leveraging of people’s expertise, increase networking and solve problems. IBM is an example of an organization that utilizes this type of knowledge management.
“Situated knowledge,” is the knowledge specific to particular situation. Trial and error is the method for creating this type of knowledge with influence coming from language, culture and tradition. Strategies for developing this level of knowledge come from experiential learning and including the viewpoints of others. An outcome of this process is that those individuals with differing points of view will have an occasion to speak. Historical records reflect such changes. An example of this process is how women obtained the vote in the United States.
The “sociology of knowledge,” examines the relationships between human thought and the social context within which it arises. Asking broad based questions lead to this understanding of knowledge. Activities that provide this level of knowledge include experience, observation and inference from individuals and their cultures. Results from this level of knowledge result in a qualitative understanding of human society.
A chart is a useful tool for increasing awareness and use of knowledge, to know and knowing as it relates to the three applications of knowledge, management, situated and sociology. Such a chart is useful to teach others about the understanding, application and outcomes of knowledge. Since the 1960’s, there has been a rapid increase in the development of knowledge. However, what is lacking from this rise in knowledge and information is appropriate application to a learner. Einstein (1879-1955) stated, “information is not knowledge.”
In order for knowledge to become relevant to the learner, it is important that the learning environment include the learner and their goals rather than simply provide information. To achieve this level of learning environment those who teach have the ability to monitor both class and individual learning and guide each learner through the use of a variety of learning strategies.
ORGANIZATION – SERIES 5.2
Connecting and Organizational Skills
It is interesting that the word, “organization,” has four different definitions. Two of the definitions refer to “organize,” two definitions define “organization.” To “organize,” has three definitions, as a verb (implying a structure), a noun (the actions of organization), and an adjective (to describe an activity). “Organization,” refers to “bring together, establish or join in a common cause.” Each definition suggests a difference between both group sizes (large or small) as well as individual or shared participation.
The structure of an organization includes its mission, goals, strategies to handle disagreements and listening skills. Networking is both an activity and a strategy that facilitate the growth of the organization. E. Deming (1994) stated that the “aim of an organization is for everybody to gain over the long term.” In order for everyone to gain four important strategies and activities are present: 1) appreciation of the system, 2) knowledge of variation, 3) theory of knowledge, 4) knowledge of human nature. Recently communities of practice have developed as an example of organizations. The purpose of these communities is to improve both organizational and personal performance, share new knowledge, practices, experiences and become platforms for further innovation.
“Organizing” at the personal level is applicable at both that level as well as the larger organizational level. Strategies that facilitate organizing at the personal level include time management, creating action plans and use of a Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) system. Workings at either the organizational level or the individual level measurable outcomes become important. Healthy People 2020 offers the following outcome measures: 1) enlightened leadership with a broad agenda, 2) a shared vision, opening listening and learning from service recipients, 3) financial awareness of community and individual services, and 4) the delivery of services. Each of these goals includes consideration of human capital.
E. Rogers (1962) wrote, “when considering how to make and sustain innovation through knowledge, becoming connected to a community is the starting place for the innovation.”
SERVICE COORDINATION – SERIES 5.3
Connecting and Service Coordination Skills
Defining service coordination varies greatly. There are definitions for the governmental level or at the professional level. Each definition presents with a variety of skills and outcome measures. Trutko, et.al, (1991) bring several features of the different definitions together to read, “service coordination is a situation where two or more organizations work together, through a formal or informal arrangement to meet one or more goals, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and to improve performance.”
The emphasis of this definition is to “work together,” (collaboration and cooperation skills) that focus on the client. This focus shows respect and values the client’s assets, provides an integrated service plan with related evaluation of services, supports the client through any transition, and seeks to prevent a return for the services. Disrael, (1804-1881) wrote that, “great services are not canceled by one act or by one single error.”
Service coordination models that seek to fulfill the task of “working together,” are identified as 1) “system-oriented,” or “service-oriented,” which seeks to reform a delivery system, 2)system coordination whose strategies focus on top- down delivery of activities or bottom-up where the initiative for coordination begins at the local level. Each of these models present with advantages and disadvantages.
The World Health Organization (WHO) offers a third model for service coordination. This model searches for community connections and the inclusion of community support for health and social welfare services. The goal for this model is to, “develop the roles of key affected populations and communities, community organizations and networks, and public and private sector that work in partnership with civil society at the community level to design, deliver, monitory and evaluate service activities aimed at improving health outcomes.