“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
How do you know when you are doing your life’s work well? Is there a standard? How is it set? How is performance judged? What is the result of a life’s work not well done? Well done? How can you learn to do it better if it is not going so well or to keep it going if it is?
These questions are not meant to be abstractions, nor points for philosophical elaboration. Yet, they are difficult to answer. The emerging reality is that organizations and practitioners working to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities affected by substance use need to grapple with these questions. And get to answers.
Health care is evolving into a performance-, rather than procedure-, driven industry. Changes in practice will soon be primarily motivated by the need to demonstrate improved individual and community outcomes to both consumers and payors of services. And this often means improving performance at all levels in an organization.
In the past year, IRETA’s practice has continued to evolve beyond its traditional training and education activities to provide consultation and expert assistance for states, agencies and systems seeking to improve their practice. We do this by applying a diverse, distinct and expanding body of knowledge to tackle clinical, administrative, process improvement, measurement and information systems problems that inhibit organizations from getting to outcomes that will now be expectations, not merely aspirations.
IRETA’s projects of the past year are discussed in our 2012-13 Annual Report. Our clients are a diverse group that we have assisted by understanding how they saw their problem, how they tried to solve it, what outcomes they wanted to achieve and then fitting practical solutions that were self reinforcing and sustainable.
This work has a theme to it, “Helping helpers do what they do…better.”
Coupled with IRETA’s strong base in training, education and applied research, this practical approach to helping has resulted in a second consecutive year of a budget surplus and growth in net assets.
My profound thanks to the Board and the creative, energetic and dedicated staff at IRETA for making this past year so professionally and personally rewarding for me.