Reflection is required for impact

Some of the stuff I made when I worked at Project HOME.

When I worked at Project HOME, an organization addressing homelessness in Philly, I noticed a lot of things that I could design and improve. Better signage, better forms, nicer marketing materials, pretty menus at the cafe, improving training programs, an easier way to organize job listings for clients, etc.

I completed most of these things. I’m not sure they mattered.

I also wrote proposals and plans for larger projects; rethinking some existing services and creating new programs. However, none of those ever got done.

When an organization works with people in crisis, it’s very hard not to feel like every moment must be accounted for. It is exhausting just to maintain the existing processes and procedures, rarely is there time to think about improving things.

This is a pattern that we’re seeing while researching homelessness in Austin. Organizations that don’t explicitly set aside time for reflection default to crisis mode.

Looking back after four years, the only thing still in use at Project HOME is a tool that made it easier for the staff to submit and review incident reports.

So just like webkit won’t accept patches that make it slower, in order for a new program or approach to be successful it must reduce the workload of organizational staff and increase reflection.


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