We convene networks of people who come together using participatory leadership practices.  These peer learning networks focus on various fields within Minnesota’s human service sector.  

Currently, the two learning networks convened by Future Services Institute are:

The Learning Network is our peer-led learning network created to inspire people working in the state, county, and tribes to learn together and co-create human services that are increasingly effective, innovative, and changes lives

Management and governance of Minnesota’s county-administered social welfare system is a complex endeavor. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) plays roles in administering federal and state policy, collecting data, documenting performance, and seeding innovations. The counties are tasked with implementing policy, delivering programming and benefits to support vulnerable Minnesotans, and customizing solutions to local conditions. They must work together across these roles to successfully carry out effective services. Too often, though, roles get muddied and learning from one part of the system is not shared with others.  

An opportunity exists, though, to overcome these limitations. Considerable research suggests that adapting performance alone is insufficient to change management and frontline practices in human services.  A more focused intervention that supports managers’ use of data, deepens peer learning and creates strategies for improving frontline practices.  The Learning Network provides this opportunity.  

The Future Services Institute works with DHS as a partner in this effort.  It enables DHS and selected counties and tribal governments to experiment with deeper engagement around systems change and performance management. 

Updates from this project:

  • The Management Learning Community retreat took place on June 7 and 8, 2016. The Management Learning Community is a space for regular, face-to-face meeting between managers at various levels of human services to learn together on improving service delivery.
  • The American Indian Learning Community retreat took place on June 8 and 9, 2016. The American Indian Learning Community provides a forum for regular, face-to-face meeting between managers at various levels to learn together about how to improve system operation for American Indian communities given their unique relationship with state government.

This new peer learning network, funded by MSPWin and the Future Services Institute is in its infancy. This speaks to our practice of emergence and letting its members shape its strategic direction. Currently, a Core Team has been convened, bringing together the movers and shakers of the workforce development sector to design the projects’ activities to be of most service in systems change . 

This peer learning network seeks to build the field of workforce development by engaging service organizations in improvement around effective program practice and results. It will also provide public and private funders a neutral place for sharing information and considering policy implementation and system redesign. By joining these various elements, the project will help to move the system towards a more consistent means for investing in and providing workforce and career development service that improves the chances of disadvantaged workers succeeding in Minnesota’s labor market.