Agency Change Toolkit

Presented by

Think Work

ELEMENT TWO - get started

Allow the agency culture to evolve over time.

The transformation process is evolutionary, and will develop and progress over time. This includes shifting agency programs and policies to align with new priorities. You might even experience a culture shift as a literal change in physical space, so that redesigned office space expresses the organization’s values.

Shift the culture to align with new paradigms.

You might be moving from a charity model to a business model. This cultural reframing can allow you to focus on only inclusive supports that align with your new mission and vision. Over time, you’ll move from a philosophy of providing care and safety to supporting and promoting increasing independence, community contribution, and social inclusion.

Center your agency’s culture within its new values, vision, and mission.

Agency cultures that are built on strong philosophical beliefs around inclusion and full community contribution are far more likely to make progress than those that are transforming only because of mandates. Set your vision and create your culture because you believe in it, and because you believe it is in the interest of those whom you support.

Ensure leadership sets the tone for the new agency culture.

Agency leadership must be committed to creating culture that stays aligned to the organization’s mission. This includes directing communications that represent your new paradigm. As a leader, you’ll often be the one to ensure that policy and practice decisions match your agency’s core values. You’ll also need to ensure that the agency’s goals remain clear and consistent, and that forward momentum continues despite occasional setbacks.

Create a culture that nurtures and invests in staff talent.

Effective agency leadership stimulates trust, teamwork, and high expectations to nurture staff talent. Whether it be through creating incentives for existing staff, or hiring new people, cultivating a mission-focused staff is an invaluable resource. Everyone should feel like they have a role in evolving the agency and improving the agency. Investing in and continuing to value their development and growth creates a shared investment in the new culture.

Side note: As your agency culture shifts, staff will have to shift as well. Since many staff have grown accustomed to the workshop model, they’ll need to be engaged in the new vision development and subsequent cultural shift.

Emphasize continuous learning, innovation, and quality improvement.

A successful provider’s work is never done. Your culture needs to emphasize continual improvement, maintain a focus on the future, be flexible, and adapt to varied political and economic contexts.

Successful providers are not afraid of failure. Instead, they reframe challenges as educational experiences that foster a culture of learning. You’ll need to stay abreast of the latest advancements in field, continually innovate, and explore new directions. This includes listening to what your customers want, and being flexible enough to pivot from your established agenda.

To learn more, see these suggested resources and provider promising practices