Live blogging at JMATE: Organizational Issues in an Era of Change

This morning I attend a panel discussion on how organizations manage change. Chaired by Dan Merrigan, a professor at Boston University who manages the Reclaiming Futures leadership program, the session featured three presentations that addressed key communication and collaboration challenges.
Dr. Merrigan focused on the role of leadership in the initiative. “At Reclaiming Futures, we believe leadership is about setting direction, creating alignment, and maintaining commitment,” said Dr. Merrigan. “ According to Dr. Merrigan, the Reclaiming Futures leadership culture is a collective activity distributed across boundaries and it exists without formal authority. “Leadership is adaptive, strategic, and relational,” said Dr. Merrigan.
Dr. Merrigan stressed that it’s important to recognize that change always causes anxiety. “We urge people to distinguish between technical work (which requires mechanical fixes),” he said, “and adaptive work (which requires addressing change). To accomplish this, Reclaiming Futures helps local teams build teams across systems, cultures and organizations that identify their adaptive challenges.”

Dennis Reilly, Project Director for Reclaiming Futures of Nassau County, New York, spoke next. “We’re not boundary busters, but boundary circumnavigators,” said Reilly about his project. “We used Reclaiming Futures as an opportunity to enhance and improve existing services like youth court, or to involve new partners like the Vera Institute of Justice.”
Evan Elkin, director of planning and government innovation at the Vera Institute of Justice, advised the Nassau County Reclaiming Futures project on adoption of evidence based drug and alcohol treatment models.
“We tried something different in Nassau County,” said Elkin. “We invested in a coaching process. Nassau County has 50 different treatment providers. It’s a large, diverse community. We had to leave a lot of different ways for providers to get involved.” According to Elkin, some of the techniques they used included training more than 200 people, developing online video training materials, and collaborating with Adelphi University on an evidence-based practice curriculum.
David Smith closed the session with a brief primer on privacy issues and recent changes in federal laws, especially the Health Information Technology for Clinical Health Act.
Smith said the most important development were new sanctions, including fines and legal liability. Providers need to be aware of these changes and incorporate them into their business practices.

Mac Prichard owns and operates Prichard Communications, a full-service public relations agency that works with philanthropies, non-profits and public agencies across the country. He previously served as the national communications director for Reclaiming Futures. Prior to that, Mac was a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Human Services, a speechwriter and deputy legislative director for former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, and a Portland City Hall spokesman for Earl Blumenauer, now a Member of Congress. Prior, he was legislative and media relations director for the Massachusetts State Office for Refugees and Immigrants, the first public information officer for Boston's "Big Dig," and a researcher in former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy's first Congressional campaign. He also served on the staff of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. Mac has a master's from Harvard University and a bachelor's from the University of Iowa.

Updated: February 08 2018