Four Bands Community Fund
What has been most instrumental to your progress?
The most important thing we did was to create a multi-pronged approach and values based strategy to accomplishing workforce development. We understood the value of having research based findings from our local environment which laid the foundation for the rest of our work. From here, we took the information and created a values based strategy. The key to this was understanding "workforce development" has three distinct means for three distinct populations - the unemployed, the employed, and the organizations/supervisors/business community. Research defines workforce development approaches from 3 different perspectives as well: sustainable economic security of the individual, sustainable economic growth of the community or region, and skill growth in an industry to remain competitive in the marketplace. We attempted to incorporate each of these perspectives in our integrated approach. While it wasn't the most efficient method, our understanding of our market increased three fold.
The flexibility of the funding source allowed us to test and implement various solutions to the identified need. The importance of this feature cannot be stressed enough. Instead of just trying to alleviate the symptoms of problems, the collaborative task force tried to address the societal patterns that create the underlying issues.
Key lessons learned
The key lessons we learned is that workforce development is delicately nuanced and each approach should reflect the subtle yet important differences. For example, an individual focused model centers on training and education. Opportunities to learn and grow need to be presented to individuals so they can become contributing members of their respective communities. While the societal and entrepreneurial approach are driven less by individual needs and more by the regional economic development strategy. We learned, as you begin to develop a one-size fits all workforce development plan, these nuances edge in and disrupt the flow if left unaddressed.
We would characterize our failing as trying to set up a one-size fits all approach to workforce development. We knew there were different populations which would have different skill sets needing to be addressed, but we did not consider the various approaches (individual vs societal vs organizational). Our failed approach could be described as being reactive instead of proactive. We responded to the needs of the community without setting up a training protocol with respect to the three approaches.
Reflections on the community innovation process
The collaborative process was the most important to completing our work for this grant. In my interim report, I explained the three types of collaborative resources that individuals invest in others to create value. I believe Four Bands modeled the investment of these resources - informational, social, and personal - on a organizational level. Our community innovation process was more successful as we learned to either allocate or save these collaborative resources in each moment.
Progress toward an innovation
We have successfully built market and partner linkages that have connected and grown the demand for a public and private-sector policies and programs that provides individuals with the opportunity for a sustainable livelihood. We consider this emergent conventional wisdom which is closer to addressing our community need than before the grant period.
We intend to continue the collaboration and leverage the Department of Labor resources from the state of South Dakota to sustain the programming. We see helping people regain and retain their human dignity as a game changer and dignity is something that is usually passed on to others. We are dedicated to sustaining our strategy.
If you could do it all over again...
I would have recommended we think more critically about the various perspectives: individuals; societal/economic; and organizational. Each of these perspectives need a dedicated strategy and a values based statement in order to invest them in the strategy. Instead, we approached it with an overarching theme which took longer to gain traction.