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The Human Services Value Curve: How to Become a More Culturally Responsible Community Partner

Initially founded in 1987 at Harvard Kennedy School, Leadership For A Networked World (LNW) has since evolved to become an applied research initiative of Dr. Antonio M. Oftelie at Harvard’s Technology and Entrepreneurship Center. LNW creates transformational thought leadership and learning experiences for executives, and is credited for the development of an important framework known as the Human Services Value Curve. This four-stage framework places great emphasis on measurable impact, building public trust, and establishing legitimacy.

The Four Stages of the Human Services Value Curve Born out of a research project designed to help non-profit professionals improve their capacity to deliver the best outcomes and social impact possible, the overarching theory of the Human Services Value Curve reflects organizations’ progression through four distinct stages as they strive to become more culturally responsible contributors to society, and over time, achieve exponential collective impact.

  • Regulative—The organization defines enterprise-wide outcome goals with accompanying measures; maintains operating processes while developing new approaches for service delivery; and pilots systems and technologies to bridge silos between programs and departments for improved communications.

  • Collaborative—The organization is moving from outputs to outcomes; is working toward customer-centered solutions through coordination of services; and is implementing a single-view system for case management at the individual level and in aggregate.

  • Integrative—The organization’s outcomes are connected to larger community-wide, cross-agency priorities and outcomes; is establishing governance structures, processes and analytics aligned to support and drive employees’ customer-centered outcome goals.

  • Generative—The organization captures and contributes to community- and partner-wide outcome measures to predict future service needs, forge new partnerships, and generate new/more/better resources, solutions, and outcomes; has the agility to pivot quickly to meet the dynamic needs of the community; and leverages predictive analytics to synthesize community-wide metrics, anticipate demands, and communicate social impact.

How the Human Services Value Curve Helps Organizations Achieve Collective Impact

By moving through the continuum of this framework, organizations first refine their internal processes and begin to implement technological solutions that will later position them for contributing to larger, community-wide efforts. Another key to success using this model, is clearly defining desired outcomes, and aligning the design of all of the organization’s services, as well as associated goals and measures, in support of those outcomes.

Over time, these refined systems and socialized desired outcomes will become the driving forces behind increased collaboration, which in turn will increase the organization’s capacity to achieve even greater impact. And as organizations progress through the four stages of this framework, they become more culturally responsible and become perceived leaders and partners by the communities they serve.

Getting Started

Organizations wishing to overcome multiple variables—shifts in economic, political, social, and technology—to provide the best possible service can advance along the continuum outlined in the Human Services Curve. Developing both a flexible approach to policy development and an agile technology infrastructure will empower your organization to become more nimble and proactive in its responsiveness to your community’s needs. Contact us today to learn how SureImpact can help your organization rapidly progress along the Human Services Value Curve, while tracking and measuring your social impact, building public trust, and establishing legitimacy among all of your stakeholders.


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