Four Bands Community Fund

Report date
March 2016

What has been most instrumental to your progress?

This year, I believe we increased the collective understanding of the issue on a local level very deeply. Similarly, we have increased collective understanding of the issue on a state level but not as deeply. A collective understanding of our community’s need helps drive resource to the need and increases the community impact via ripple effect. You gain more advocates sharing the same message.
The flexibility of the funding source allowed us to test and implement various solutions to the identified need. In workforce development, there is no silver bullet. Individuals are being bombarded from several different angles with barriers. Likewise, we’ve had to disrupt and dislodge those barriers using multiple methods.
Data has driven our methods. The survey which was completed has been a great resource to advocate for collective understanding as well as new models for implementation.

Key lessons learned

As we developed the trainings within our community with our partners, we found we had to uphold the quality of trainings being delivered. Trainers were adjusting the curriculum for their audience and we had to remind them of the core deliverables necessary to count this as a qualified training. We did not want the certification received from completing the course to be attenuated by different delivery methods and trainers.
One of the failures is we did not develop a training protocol prior to actually conducting the trainings. The trainers and community members were so eager to receive training we responded to the need. Instead, we should have taken the time to implement a protocol so we would have consistent delivery and a stronger certification process.

Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving

The collaborative process has always been the key element of our innovation process. There has been tension within this process and a strain on resources to support the collaborative efforts. I’ve been conducting quite a bit of research on collaboration and found an article in the Harvard Business Review which illuminated most of the tension. “It’s important to distinguish among the 3 types of “collaborative resources” that individual employees invest in others to create value: informational, social, and personal. Informational resources are knowledge and skills. Social resources involve one’s awareness, access, and position in a network, which can be used to help colleagues better collaborate with one another. Personal resources include one’s own time and energy. These 3 resource types are not equally efficient. Informational and social resources can be shared...without depleting the collaborator’s supply...But an individual employee’s time and energy are finite, so each request to participate in or approve decisions for a project leaves less available for that person’s own work.” Distinguishing between these 3 types has been very helpful in making progress in our work.

Other key elements of Community Innovation

I would say the ability to hold tension in ways that still create community is an important element to our community process. I’m not sure I could give any more insight into what that looks like, but we are learning to recognize tension as it exists, name it, and balance it within the process.

Understanding the problem

It has led to an identification of a wider statewide need. Many rural communities within the state of SD are struggling with the very same issues we are and collaborations statewide have begun to emerge and open up more resources.

If you could do it all over again...

I believe I would have helped clarify the 3 collaborative resources necessary and to help my team understand the strain of “personal resources.” I would have started delegating duties earlier to other team members and would have acknowledge their contributions to encourage stronger performance and less burn out.