A year into my first job out of college, I noticed a growing gap between the issues and topics I enjoyed thinking about outside of work and the topics I had to think about during work. At the time, I was a warehouse manager at an industrial supply distributor (think of Amazon for bolts, cranes, and everything in between).
As I walked around the neighborhood near my apartment, I saw empty machine shops and small fabrication shops abandoned. The Great Recession had collapsed the auto industry, and this Midwestern community was hurting as a result. I wondered what could be done to rebuild the economy, what would happen to the people who had spent years building their businesses only to see them fail overnight, and I wondered what would happen to the empty streets that were once bustling with activity.
This desire to be part of bringing solutions to communities led me to leave the warehouse and join a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits identify which of their services are effective and then grow the effective ones to meet the needs in the community. During my time there, I had the privilege of working with a nonprofit that helps youth who are aging out of foster care start adulthood on a positive foot, a nonprofit that helps police officers mentor young people who aren’t going to school or working so they can get their lives back on track, nonprofits that are giving people at risk of developing diabetes the tools they need to build a healthy lifestyle, and many more amazing organizations.
During my time at this nonprofit, I also observed 4 mindset shifts that help organizations make real progress on the challenges facing their communities. I shared these mindset shifts with the regional chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness last Saturday. You can watch my remarks below:
I wish you could have heard the presenters before me because they described in specific details how they are putting these mindsets into practice to make real progress on mental and behavioral health.
Here is a quick summary of the 4 shifts:
- From experience-based to evidence-based: Ensure the services we are offering have strong evidence proving they are effective
- From serving to solving: Go beyond providing great services to ensure the problems are shrinking
- From single organizations to systems: No single organization will be able to solve the problems we face. We must work together, and pay attention to bottlenecks, gaps, handoffs, and goals.
- From caring to culture: Caring helps reverse the effects of bad choices. Culture prevents bad outcomes. We need both.
Where do you see these mindsets in our community and what impact are they having?