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What works – What doesn’t – What might

Under the category of of what works –
Before I retired from being a counselor, there were certain standards that I was required to meet. Millions of us have similar work requirements that demand at least minimum performance. The Center for What Works (linked above) helps agencies and organizations use benchmarks and program performance measurement for evaluation of the success of their efforts to solve problems. While I was an agency employee, all of our funding sources required formal and regular accounting of how the money they provided was spent. The reports required that we document how well what we did for our clients worked to change their lives. Did the counseling work, and how well did it work? That accountability was a fact of life. Solution Focused Therapy is a counseling technique that was one of our most successful methods. One of my favorite authors was Martin Seligman, who wrote What You Can Change & What You Can’t.
Under the category of what doesn’t work –
What if citizens began to demand similar minimum levels of performance from our highest elected officials? For instance, we have learned from painful experience that it doesn’t work to make a political appointee the head of FEMA. A major war will not work out well as the Commander in Chief is forced to change the original war-making rationale at least four (or 10!) different times. It doesn’t work when Karl Rove (Bush’s Brain) is out of commission during a crisis.
Under the category of what might work –
Former President Clinton thinks about what works. Recent television appearances focused on his Global Initiative summit. His idea for the conference was to engage movers and shakers to commit to actually do something. The goals are to help improve governance, alleviate world poverty, show that climate change is both an opportunity and a challenge, and begin to offer reconciliation of religious conflicts. “We actually know how to do some of these things,” he said, “and those with money are interested in action, that step beyond just talking about it.”
I close with another book reference: “Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters,” is a best-selling book by Dr. Phil McGraw published in 1999.


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