Vision Implementation Project

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VIP

A Change ...

"The Families First Program has served Tennessee for almost ten years. We are excited to embark on making meaningful changes that will improve the lives of Tennesseans over the next decade and for years to come."

- DHS Commissioner Virginia Lodge

Vision Implementation Project (VIP) Progresses

According to Tennessee Department of Human Services Deputy Commissioner Ed Lake, “Helping families become truly self-sufficient takes the combined efforts of all our communities – human, social service, education, health, and business.”  In collaboration with its strategic partners, including representatives of each of these communities,  Vanderbilt University’s Leadership Development Center (within the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations) and the Department of Human and Organizational Development continues to offer technical and organizational expertise in support of the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) as it moves toward achieving its desired future as an exemplary organization that provides exceptional services to Tennessee families. 

Vanderbilt University's Role'The Vision Implementation Project (VIP) began work in September, 2005 at the request of top leaders at DHS.  At that time, Vanderbilt University and its key partners began to work with the department to address the technical, organizational, and environmental learning needs necessary to achieve the organization’s primary goal of creating excellent client service delivery systems. At present, a comprehensive organizational and human development plan, grounded in the most current research on organizational change and adult learning is being developed.

State Support Team At the state level, the State Support Team, a group comprised of key leaders in the organization, is working to develop a “Roadmap to the Future,” a technology-based tool that serves to guide conversation throughout DHS as the organization moves into the future. The State Support Team is also working to better define that department’s core work processes and to provide guidance for the design of VIP Institutes, leadership and learning institutes for DHS employees.

Pilots With pilot sites in Memphis, Cookeville, and Johnson City, the grant team has begun the hard work of bringing about significant change at both the local and state levels. At the local level, the three pilot sites are engaging design teams and work groups in further defining the core work processes for the department, looking carefully at urban, suburban, and rural distinctions.  These design teams are also beginning to help formulate curriculum for the VIP Institutes and are building their own implementation plans as changes begin to occur throughout the organization.

VIP ModelAfter a year of assessing needs and analyzing many aspects of DHS, the team realized some new ideas were needed to meet ever changing demands and reforms. An area of innovation that Vanderbilt is teaming with DHS to implement is an ‘Employee-Client-Service Linkage’. This model is best known as the ‘Sears Model’ after the case study published by Harvard Business Review in 1998. The most basic premise is that increased employee engagement and decreased attrition will drive an increase in client satisfaction, and this had held true in both the private and the public sector. We believe that an increase in client satisfaction will lead to greater client progress, measured in higher work participation rates and increased overall satisfaction with their DHS experiences.

VIP Leadership Institutes One major method of support we are building with the Department of Human Services will take the form of Leadership Institutes (LIs). Mark Cannon will be the faculty member spearheading this initiative. While the Leadership Institutes are still in the planning phase, the vision encompasses a process by which staff will be trained in curriculum to address major strategic areas vital to DHS. The LIs will also serve as a place to train trainers, ensuring that DHS is continually able to build its own capacity from within. This will set a strong foundation for building communities of practice in all of the DHS’s major divisions.

Each LI will train three cohorts of regional offices, helping to prepare and deliver curricula, training materials, and technology support. The cohorts will consist of approximately 45 front line leaders and key staff within each of the regional offices. We envision a sustainable learning environment where DHS staff can learn from one another and all staff will have opportunities for continuous professional growth.

A New Way of Working The LDC’s goal in working with DHS is to support them in better achieving their mission.  We want to implement a new vision of human services delivery in our state – a vision focused on customer satisfaction and success, driven by skilled and committed employees, enhanced by community partnerships, and supported by technology.

We aim to increase customer access and support opportunities through new front end services with community partners. We are striving to improve core eligibility services though streamlined back office processing, and offer more individualized services. DHS and the LDC staff are committed to accomplishing this through enhanced technologies, innovative leadership and an empowered staff.

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