In this blog, I highlight the significance of organizational change as fundamental to principle no. 6 (of 10): Frame change within the context of organizational, structural, and individual transformation in advancing black feminism in public health.
Organizational change refers to the systemic tasks needed to build capacity in key areas that increase organizational effectiveness. For public health, I focus on organizational capacity-building to enhance programs for better participant outcomes.
Understanding organizations’ governing protocols, approach to personnel, policy guidelines, and partnership selection is crucial to implementing organizational change within public health initiatives. Once organizations are operating at full capacity, individuals participating in programs and services are better positioned to commit to the behavioral changes needed for optimal health outcomes.
As a public health program evaluator, I am deeply troubled by some administrators’ “blame the participant” narrative when programs fail to meet key performance measures. Armed with Hill Collins’ insistence that we challenge power structures from within, I integrated organizational performance measures into evaluation designs for diverse health programs funded at the federal, state, and foundation levels. This afforded me the opportunity to observe organizations’ effectiveness in program implementation using measures beyond individual change in behaviors. While it is beyond the scope of this blog to provide an exhaustive list, I have shared some organizational-level data pertaining to recurring themes about organizations’ limitations in program effectiveness.
The conceptual frameworks below contribute to the process of organizational change and are especially helpful in public health and social service agencies.
In advancing black feminism in public health, I built a body of work for assisting black women- and girls-serving organizations to achieve optimal levels of effectiveness. My working definition of “organizational effectiveness” is the intersection of efficacy (ability to achieve its mission, goals, and objectives) and efficiency (working within allotted resources). I operationalized my definition of organizational effectiveness into “10 domains of organizational excellence”. Each domain requires competent leadership and management for high organizational performance over long periods of time and should be an area of focus for improvement to achieve organizational excellence.
As black feminists advocating for health equity, we must be bold enough to challenge power structures from inside the public health and medical systems, as we observe cracks in the very systems and organizations funded to fix patients whose health is a matter of life and death. As bold, brilliant thought leaders, never lose sight of what MATTERS most in Public Health!