Field Notes: Why should my community conduct a Performance Improvement Clinic?

written by naehblog
June 5, 2012

Today we bring you another voice of a Performance Improvement Clinic (an intensive one-and-a-half day clinic that helps communities prepare for changes made by the HEARTH Act ) trainer, Iain De Jong. We ask Iain the question: Why should my community conduct a Performance Improvement Clinic?

The plural of “anecdote” is not – and never has been – “data.” Each community has a narrative to pull together on the great work that they are doing to end homelessness. But we need to move beyond samples sizes of one, good stories and intuition to prove to policy makers, funders and the general public that what we do makes a difference. In an era of limited resources, we also need to be sure that we are investing our precious time and money into those interventions that improve the system as a whole, not just a particular project.

While the HEARTH era expects communities to work as systems rather than a collection of projects, making the shift to do so has greater benefits than just meeting requirements of HEARTH. It makes good sense and it is in the best interests of the people we serve. A Performance Improvement Clinic provides the right forum to assist communities in taking increased strides towards a system-based approach to service delivery. This type of thinking helps ensure that the right person gets to the right organization for the right type of intervention at the right time. It leverages the strengths across the entire community.

With increased attention paid to data and performance in the delivery of human services, both “data” and “performance” are dirty words to some. Some well-intentioned people have overly complicated both rather than making them easily understood and useful in operations and decision-making from the frontline level right on up to management. We need to reclaim “data” and “performance” as a reflection of our efforts and hard work. We need to make them meaningful to everyone in an organization and across the entire community. And we need to know how to make the right decisions from the information to better serve homeless people by helping them access and maintain housing.

Simply put, what gets measured gets done. A community that conducts a Performance Improvement Clinic can count on having the tools in place to more easily understand and improve performance in an ongoing and sustainable way, making the best possible choices and investments for the people within their community, and explaining to one and all – including the end users of services – why performance matters.

Iain De Jong is the President & CEO of OrgCode Consulting and a long-time conference presenter at National Alliance Conferences. He will be making at least two presentations at the conference, and looking forward to learning much more from the other presenters and attendees. You can learn more about Iain at or or follow him on Twitter @orgcode.

If your community would like to learn more about the Performance Improvement Clinic, contact us at