The Youth Transitioning program is dedicated to helping at-risk youth successfully transition to adulthood. Success is defined as the presence of positive outcomes such as independence, having a social network, life skills and goals, and the absence of negative outcomes such as homelessness, addiction, self-destructive behaviours and criminal activity. These outcomes are tracked through online reporting, which is a part of a database of past and current clients. Before, the daily reporting was not goal-based. It was calendar-based. “On December 14 at 5 pm, I met with J.W. and did this, talked about that”. Every 3 months a paper report of goal progress had to be completed, scanned and uploaded into the system. It was problematic for anyone outside of the program to assess its effectiveness. Imagine having to read hundreds, if not thousands of these individual or quarterly reports in any given year. This issue was supposed to be solved by a modification to the online database which would allow submitting goal-based reports. For example, you could create a goal “Get a driver’s license” or “Graduate from high school” and then either close it once it is completed or mark it as incomplete when the youth turns 19 and leaves the program. You could also generate a report of all complete or incomplete goals for individuals or all youth in the program. Sounds amazing, right? It was announced in advance and it took a while before it was done by a 3rd party software development company. The management clearly communicated the goal to make this change and help everyone adapt to it. I loved it and switched to it immediately following a training session. It was beneficial not just to our management and the government agency overseeing our non-profit company, but also to us, employees because it was a more efficient way to track progress. And yet many of my colleagues who were too used to the old system struggled with this change. More training sessions were offered. The management was patient and supportive. I think the planning and implementation were going well until it came to managing stakeholders. Which dragged on for months until three distinct groups appeared: those who completely switched to the new system, those who continued to use the old system and those who created their own mix of the two. I was just hired to work for another program within the same company, which has a different manager and it was revealed during the interview that they also use the same database, but no one switched to a new system. What were the barriers? I am not familiar with the new program yet, but I agree with Watt that “key stakeholders can make or break the success of a project. Even if all the deliverables are met and the objectives are satisfied, if your key stakeholders aren’t happy, nobody’s happy.” (2014, p. 42). It seems that not enough key stakeholders supported the change and those who supported it, did not push for it hard enough. In the end, it seemed that everyone in the Youth Transitioning program (me included) was happy with the outcome. Is this not a win-win solution? Although, I can imagine that the initiator of this change, someone either higher up or outside of the organization, would not classify it as a success. What would it take for the project to be fully implemented? Perhaps, it required several autocratic leaders (p.114) at various levels. It’s not the leadership style I prefer and I actively avoid working where it is employed, but if the change is required to be adopted and it is arguably a positive change, then perhaps the people within the organization should not be given a choice to ignore it.
Watt, A. (2014). Project management. https://opentextbc.ca/projectmanagement/