Metrics for Social Capital
Using a specialized social media product that lets clients and program managers share the progress of the work while promoting healthy social relationships among all the players through candid and specific knowledge-sharing.
Enabling Program Managers to work quickly and easily with partners to support coherence and healthy interdependence among the various groups striving to deliver a service – and everything is documented so we can bring new people up to speed quickly.
Funders, alliance partners, and other groups who are striving for similar objectives are able to share their learning without burdensome delays, surveys, email chains or homogenized annual reports.
Conventional metrics don’t fit Social Capital. Using Systemic Principles like Transparency and Candor as we Engage as Equals, we can co-create meaningful and specific metrics to inform our continuous improvement. Afterall, isn’t that the purpose of metrics? All the participants need is a cell phone.
Case Story #1 Building Coherence Among Disparate Partners
Collaboration is challenging under the best conditions, but when there are many functions that need to be coordinated and disruptions are common, we need ways to link all of the various parts so that everyone involved can see, in real time, if the relationships are intact and flowing.
Foster care systems in large cities have many players: foster parents, teachers and principals, health care workers, law enforcement, social services, and natural parents or family members. Does each group know what is needed by the individuals in the other groups to be most effective? Does a teacher know what is needed by health services to support the pediatrician in best meeting the child’s needs? Does the pediatrician know what the teacher needs to offer the best educational environment for the vulnerable child? Should we just guess?
The Matrix function of WindTunneling enables all of the players to identify what they need from the other groups, and to study what the other groups need from them. When we know what someone needs, we are more likely to be able to meet some or all of that need in the course of our daily work. If we don’t know, or if we don’t have a way of knowing specifically what others need from us, it is unlikely that we will meet those needs, even if our intentions are good.
We invest huge amounts in assessment yet we aren’t focused on the basic question: does each individual know what is needed of him/her by the individuals in the other parts of the system? Without accurate knowledge, we bypass many opportunities to improve service. The latent resource of human knowledge goes untapped.
Value of Intervention to Large City Foster Care Policy and Practices
WindTunneling is a painless way for us all to learn what is needed, and identify places where system-breakdowns are inevitable because huge and real needs are under-resourced. Conflicts over resources become personal when in fact using WindTunneling as a Coherence Mapping tool can provide Social Capital Metrics that will support higher performance across the system of foster care. Social Capital, well-informed and available IS a resource. Yet, we can’t build it if we lack specific, relevant information about how we best play our part in the system.
Actions taken as a result of WindTunneling Outcomes
We feel empowered when we know what is needed of us, even if we can’t always meet those needs. This opportunity also spurs on people in the various service groups to identify, “What do I need, actually, from that group? Why do I need it? When do I need it by?” Gaining clarity about what we need and communicating it clearly builds coherence in the system. This is a key metric for the growth of Social Capital.
Case Story #2 Polarized Police-Community Relations
In California’s large cities, there is intense polarization between law enforcement and communities of color as well as communities where poverty is rampant. Crime rates rise because community members are unwilling to talk openly to police about crucial knowledge and information that they hold. Resentment and frustration compound the estrangement of the community and those individuals in uniforms who are sworn to protect and defend them.
In Southern California, a city where there is a large undocumented community is struggling. WindTunneling is being used by a Community Center and its staff to bring both police officers and community members into a shared project where every participant can safely share what his/her experience is of the situation. Everyone sees every idea: no one knows (or can know) who shared which idea or experience.
Value of Intervention to the Community and to the Police
Fear and recent shootings have driven people apart. In the WindTunneling Generating Ideas activity, diverse community members and police are invited to share what they need as individuals and as groups to create a more safe and secure environment for everyone. Then they all see the ideas BEFORE they feel confident enough to come together for face-to-face conversations and socializing.
The irony is that we are using social media and technology to become more human with each other! The Social Capital of new connections and empathy in the plight and fear of another is crucial, and is an outcome of helping contentious groups see various other perspectives before becoming vulnerable in group encounters.
Actions Taken as a Result of WindTunneling Outcomes
Police are surprised at how much support there is for them, individually and collectively, when they read the comments and ideas in WindTunneling. They were expecting to be attacked. The community has a chance to speak “truth to power” safely, and feel heard. Specific behavioral changes and a desire to come together was revealed. For example, the community lacks knowledge about the relationship between the local police and the immigration services: “If I am stopped for a traffic violation, is this reported to immigration officials?” This is a key piece of information about policy, and if there is a policy, is it being implemented consistently?
The media is excluded so the distortion and amplification factor is limited. People begin to see each other as individuals, rather than as scary uniforms or people who come from different cultures and speak unfamiliar languages.
Social Capital can be identified and “measured” through studying the contributions into the WindTunneling project and the social engagement changes that emerge from this knowledge-sharing. Those involved can also participate in a simple but custom quantitative assessment of “progress,” where everyone sees the outcomes and has a chance to share what they think the data means.