- Revolutionary Work
- Innovation Cohort
The current system cannot be made better without a comprehensive redesign - a revolution. The Alia UnSystem Innovation Cohort is a team of bold and innovative individuals who commit to leading 6 agencies through a 3-year cultural transformation to revolutionize their systems. The goal is for each agency to re-design and build a new family-driven, trauma-informed way of responding to families who are struggling that preserves familial bonds in any way possible, whenever safely possible.
The Cohort will include six teams of four people: 6 System Leaders; 6 “#2’s” to ensure consistency and succession; 6 Professional Guides (wildly experienced innovators who are retired or near-retired from the field who have demonstrated a history of innovation and creativity); and 6 Lived Experience Guides (foster alum or birth parents who have personal experience in the child welfare system). Professional Guides will bring expertise in how to navigate the bureaucracy of the current system. Lived Experience Guides will bring expertise and insight into the end-user experience of child welfare.
Each of the six agency leadership teams will be matched with the professional child welfare guide and a lived experience guide. In addition, the Cohort will be supported by a Cohort Leader and assisted by implementation coaches, an evaluator, and community cultivators.
The Cohort will convene in 2018, meeting in person every month the first year, and in person twice per year the following two years.
UnSystem Guiding Principles set the vision for the journey and each agency leaders will make bold changes in their systems based on these Principles. The Guiding Principles will be interpreted, implemented, and measured in each agency differently according to their needs, resources, and political climate.
This is not a pilot project and we are not purporting a specific model! This is system transformation! Many of you shared with us your pilot fatigue and an urgency to “just do it.” So we are taking the best of what we know about organizations, families, and healing, using UnSystem Guiding Principles as our north star, and convening bold leaders standing ready to jump in with both feet. There are a lot of factors yet to be finalized, as they will be co-created by the Cohort like detailed position descriptions, timeline, outcome measures, etc.
Alia will serve as convener and facilitator for the Cohort, bringing subject matter expertise in convening, systems change, and the impacts of individual and organizational trauma. We will create an environment where Cohort members are pushed to grow and develop in their leadership and where they are both supported and challenged by one another.
WHO IS IN THE COHORT?
The Cohort will consist of 6 small teams, each with an agency leader, his or her agency support (i.e. Deputy Director), a professional guide, and a lived experience guide. Alia will match the agency with the professional and lived experience guides. Supporting this group of 24 (6 groups of 4) are implementation coaches and assistants, community cultivators, an evaluator, and a Cohort leader.
WHAT CONSTITUTES “LIVED EXPERIENCE?”
A lived experience guide is someone with direct personal engagement with the child welfare system, someone who spent time in out-of-home care as a youth, or a parent who has been investigated by child protective services. It is vital that we co-create UnSystems alongside those who have experienced it personally, providing constant attention to the needs and experiences of those the systems are meant to serve.
CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE POSITIONS?
Position descriptions are still being developed. We plan to co-create these together with the Cohort to best meet the needs of the group and in relation to the amount of funding we secure. Our initial thoughts for the role are as follows:
Cohort Leader: This is one person who will guide and coordinate the Cohort as a group, including in-person meetings, facilitating relationships among Cohort members, and securing subject matter experts for assistance to Cohort members.
Implementation Coach: Three implementation coaches will each assist two agencies in organizational change and development, offering strategies that will increase the likelihood that new concepts and practices are adopted by agency stakeholders.
Implementation Assistant: Each implementation coach will work with an assistant to offer support (administrative and other) to agencies as they make changes to their systems.
Evaluator: One or a team of evaluators will assist each Cohort agency in defining which data they will capture to tell the story of their transformation journey. The evaluator(s) will also assist Alia develop an evaluation plan to harvest data on our work as conveners.
Community Cultivator: Two community cultivators will work with agency leaders to ready their communities for change. With expertise in community organizing and shifting mindset, community cultivators will work with agency leaders to develop a locally-specific campaign to gain community support for their UnSystem transformation efforts.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
You can apply for or nominate as many people as you want for any of the positions.
WHEN IS THE APPLICATION DEADLINE?
We will take applications through midnight Wednesday, January 31, 2018.
WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR COHORT APPLICANTS?
Lived experience guide: Many parents and youth (unfortunately) have personal experience with the child welfare system. To be effective as a Cohort guide, these individuals must be in a position to wholeheartedly dig in to the trauma of the current system. He or she must be able to demonstrate an ability to use the experience to provide wisdom and perspective to others.
Professional guide: Agency leaders will benefit from a professional guide, someone who has experience with shifting ideas and implementing innovative ideas. These experienced child welfare leaders are fearless, will push Cohort members to think bigger and more strategically, and offer steadfast hope of system transformation. These people have little to lose and are not threatened by job insecurity. Therefore, our hunch is that these people are retired, near-retired, or is simply do not need to work.
Agency leader: Agency leaders must be in a position of authority to implement significant change in their public organizations (local, state, tribal, or regional public child welfare agencies). They must demonstrate a track record of innovative thinking and bold decision-making, strength of character, and ability to work on a team.
IS THERE FUNDING AVAILABLE?
Potentially. Our goal is to cover all travel for Cohort members, and with further funding offer program assistance for Cohort member agencies, and/or a modest honorarium. We are still fundraising, so if you are a funder or know someone who is – let’s meet!
HOW WILL THE COHORT WORK?
The Cohort will gather monthly for 10 months in a series of in-person sessions to work through a guided structure for developing UnSystem solutions specific to their own agencies. The planning process will include the design expertise of human-centered design experts from IDEO. At the end of these 10 months each agency will have a strategy and implementation plan and a committed group of colleagues and trusted advisors for support along the way.
The second year is dedicated to implementation and monthly meetings will be virtual. The full Cohort will meet in person twice this year.
The third year is for continued implementation which will include adjustments made from results of careful evaluation from year two.
WHAT MODEL WILL THE COHORT BE USING?
UnSystem Guiding Principles serve as our north start, but we do not prescribe a specific model for agencies to implement. We know that bringing brave people together for a specific purpose with the right resources is the most effective way for us to bring about lasting change for the families, children, and workers we serve. Alia’s role is as convener, creating space for the group to collaborate and generate the best ideas.
WILL THERE BE ANOTHER CHANCE TO JOIN THE COHORT?
In 2020 we will seek out the next group of agency leaders to form the second Alia UnSystem Innovation Cohort.
I’M NOT APPLYING FOR A POSITION BUT WANT TO SUPPORT THE COHORT. HOW CAN I?
Wonderful! You can send Cohort information out to those in your network(s), nominate someone for one of the positions, donate to Alia, and sign up for the Alia newsletter where you will be notified of other ways to be involved as they arise. For example, we will be developing an online idea-sharing platform, releasing how-to materials in conjunction with the Cohort, and will be asking for your shareable stories to illuminate UnSystem Guiding Principles. Stay tuned!
WILL THERE BE COHORT UPDATES?
YES! We will hold periodic webinars or Rev Reports (short for Revolution). Our first Rev Report can be viewed here. Sign up for the Alia newsletter to be sure you are notified when these are scheduled.
I HAVE A QUESTION THAT ISN’T ANSWERED HERE. WHO CAN I ASK?
Send inquiries to Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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