Answering this question starts with identifying the resources and
opportunities people access on a private, self-directed basis to handle their
life difficulties without the need for human services agencies. Surveying
stakeholders to get their ideas and suggestions here is, as in most situations,
an important step. However, using a focus group strategy is the best place to
start. The idea is to form a small group of people including potential clients,
professionals who work with people experiencing the types of difficulties
included in the intervention focus, and a few people who have no special
experience or expertise. The latter participants bring an important element of
common sense to the process.


As preparation for meeting with the focus group, revisit the
client profiles developed earlier. Those are presented to the focus group so
group participants know for whom agency services are proposed. Next, clearly
specify the difficulties and issues included in the intervention focus. Take
care to avoid professional jargon or vague terms. Each issue or difficulty in
the intervention focus is explained in everyday terms most people can easily
relate to and understand.


We say to focus group participants, We are proposing to provide resources and opportunities to these
potential clients with these issues and difficulties in their lives.

After doing this, we invite them to share with us how people typically cope
with those particular difficulties, using their private, self-directed opportunities
and resources. The result is one or more strategies for coping with each issue
or difficulty on the intervention focus list.


We have a set of strategies for coping with the issues and
difficulties in the intervention focus. We know what resources and
opportunities the group thinks should be made available to clients. Next, we
invite focus group participants to share with us their thoughts and ideas about
what happens when people successfully use the strategies they have suggested. How can we tell when clients are coping
better?
Along with knowing what resources and opportunities the agency
should make available to its clients, we want to understand what criteria we
should use to assess whether or not what we have done is successful.


Repeat the focus group process with several groups to assure we
capture the full range of possible perspectives and points-of-view on how
people successfully cope with the intervention focus issues and on how we know
when people are coping more successfully. Once we have done this, we develop service scenarios. These are stories
about the potential clients in the client profiles – one story for each
profile. The story or scenario briefly describes who the client is, the
specific issues or difficulties he is experiencing, the agency
resources or opportunities he accesses to help with those difficulties or
issues, and .


Next, validate the service scenarios. Start with 0-A leadership
connections. Potential Clients review and comment on the scenarios. Move then
to 0-1 connections to assure the scenarios are a good fit with what the
Initiators envision for the agency. Next, return to the Authorizers, requesting
reaffirmation of the auspices and authorization to establish an agency, using
the services scenarios as a primary development guide. Assuming authorization
is still firm, engage the Implementers in the task of establishing a human
services agency to make the authorized resources and opportunities available to
and accessible by the people who should be agency clients.


Two points need passing attention here. The above steps are not
necessarily followed consecutively. Once we understand the steps and how they
relate to each other, we combine steps and modify the order somewhat to
accommodate to stakeholders and special circumstances. The only caution is to
be sure all of the steps receive attention. None can be neglected. Also, let me
simply note the possibilities for minor to major stakeholder dissonance within
each step in the process are significant and not altogether avoidable. Be
prepared to recognize and manage dissonance as it develops. It only gets worse
if we ignore it.