In this chapter, we discussed strategies for better assuring the SSI eco system functions efficiently and effectively. The eco system in principle is a self-regulating system that sustains its functioning indefinitely in the absence of drift. Unfortunately, drift is an ever-present, unavoidable ingredient of human services agency life. The effects of drift are exceptions in the functioning of the agency eco system or in its sub-systems and elements. Our task as agency Managers is to create Indicators letting us know when exceptions are present. For each element, we develop exceptions maps to show us, in an organized way, what the possible exceptions are in the element needing our careful attention. For each exception on the map, we create an Indicator we can track so we are alerted when exceptions occur.
There are various types of Indicators including data, Staff member observation, activity records, external feedback, reports from auditors and other evaluators, and so on. We create those Indicators and then use them consistently and continuously. There is no benefit to having an Indicator alerting us to an exception and then ignoring it or simply taking a wait and see attitude. We must evaluate its significance and consider strategies to reduce or eliminate the exception to which it is alerting us. Most exceptions are not self-correcting.
We directly intervene with most drift-related situations but modify our approach when working with staff members who are relatively autonomous and function more or less independently, are committed to doing a good job, and intend to do their best work, every time. When working with staff members, SSI Managers use indirect approaches, avoiding command and control strategies, preferring to influence staff members in ways to enhance and improve their perspectives and performance.
Nonetheless, exceptions require Intervention. Our responsibility as Managers is to intervene in ways to reduce or eliminate each exception of which we are aware. Furthermore, it is our responsibility to be aware of exceptions. We often can anticipate exceptions, and when we do, we have the opportunity to prevent the exception from occurring. Through Preventative Management, we proactively intervene to avoid the exceptions jeopardizing the agency eco system and its success. To the extent we prevent, reduce, or eliminate exceptions anywhere in the agency eco system, the agencys clients will cope better, will be more successful.