Tribal Systems of Care Support
A Relational Organizational Model
The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), a core TA Network partner, uses the relational worldview model as our conceptual framework for TA. It is a strengths-based model that relies on a community-based locus of control. We use it to organize the assessment of organizations and to assist managers with defining consultation and training needs.
The relational worldview model is represented as a circle with four quadrants. The four quadrants represent four major forces or sets of factors that together must come into balance. Applied to the person, they are context, mind, body, and spirit. Applied to an organization, they are environment, infrastructure, resources, and mission. Influences include both positive and negative learned teachings and practices, as well as positive and negative metaphysical or innate forces:
- The environment (context) includes the social context (problems and needs, assets and strengths, attitudes, values), the political context, (power relationships, leadership, influence, partnerships), and the economic context (economy, poverty, institutions)
- The infrastructure (mind) includes systems and services, governing documents and processes, policies and procedures, work plans, memoranda of agreement (MOAs), documentation and records, and much more.
- The resources (body) include staffing and personnel, funding, facilities, leadership, consultation, experience, and materials.
- The mission (spirit) area includes mission, vision, philosophy, values, practice principles, ethics, organizational identity, team spirit, and integrity
The four quadrants are in constant flux and change. An organization is not the same at startup as it will be after a year or two of operation. Staffing may be different; available funding may be different; and the environment is constantly shifting. Behavior, feelings, and our thoughts will also change. The system is constantly balancing and re-balancing itself as organizations change policy, procedures, budgets, personnel, or goals. Individuals, families, organizations, and even communities experience this natural process.
If the organization is able to stay in balance, it is said to be thriving. Even if some aspects of the organization are weak, strengths in other aspects balance the system and create a synergy associated with organizational health. Sometimes the balance is temporarily threatened or lost. Managers and leaders have the capacity to keep their organizations in balance for the most part, with planning and continuous attention to improvement. In addition, technical assistance can provide many mechanisms to assist in this process. Mission clarification, management or program skills, policy analysis, contract rule interpretation, and staff roles are among the myriad of ways we as TA providers culturally help maintain or restore organizational balance.
TA addresses any or all of the four quadrants through assessment, consultation, training, facilitation, resource development, and evaluation. It asks:
- “What are the holistic and complex interrelationships that contribute to the organization being able to thrive?”
- “What are the holistic and complex interrelationships that disturb the balance in the organization?”
- “What factors can come into harmony and allow the organization not only to achieve its goals and to survive but to perform with excellence?”