Creative tension is common when a group is in liminal space. And it is exactly what is needed for co-creating something new.
During our February learning session, we held space for diverse perspectives to share their hopes, concerns, and questions about the emerging Collaborative Action Network (CAN) Cohorts.
- Sought clear answers AND recognized we need more time for partner input
- Experienced discomfort with uncertainty AND excitement for creating something new
- Acknowledged the need for pragmatism AND the desire for reimagining solutions (and better future for all people and places)
The new cohorts offer a tangible opportunity for partners to create a just and inclusive culture and the necessary conditions for all community members to thrive. The trust and commitment of the North Sound ACH partners is rare – and it will be exciting to see how partners bring this to life over the course of 2022.
What do we mean by “cohort” and “focus area”?
A cohort is a grouping of Network selected focus areas that have a strong affinity or common theme. It is also a way for North Sound ACH staff and partners to organize and manage the Focus Areas. We have five cohorts:
- Vital Conditions
- Emerging Focus Areas
- Practice Transformation
- Care Coordination
Focus areas are the more discrete, actionable areas that Network participants have identified for collaborative learning and action. For example: food security, oral health, or mobile integrated health.
How were these cohorts and focus areas identified?
The North Sound ACH team identified these cohorts and focus areas based on reports from contracted partners, requests and reflections from leaders across the region, and an environmental scan. These topics are driven by our network members and will continue to be shaped by network members.
Can we change our commitments to cohorts or focus areas?
We anticipate that our network will grow and evolve over time. Partners who have signed contracts committing to a particular level of participation in a cohort can amend their contracts if another focus area emerges as an organization priority.
We also hope that additional people will join us over time, sharing their expertise and experiences. Organizations that are not currently engaged with North Sound ACH may join the network and cohorts at any time.
What could the work look like?
Our partner-based workgroups are a forerunner to the Network cohorts, such as the Regional Opioid Collaborative (ROC) and the Oral Health Local Impact Network (LIN). At the February partner learning session, Yuki Yang of Ideal Options shared that the ROC is like a “beta version” of the cohorts.
We come across different funding sources, and we can’t apply for it because we’re for-profit; having this space in these cohorts, to identify these situations, we’re always going to our community partners and saying, there’s this opportunity [for funding], do you want to apply for it and we’ll help support your efforts?
But it’s not always clear what those organizations want or need he money for, so these having cohort discussion to identify what are the solutions we’re searching for, or what are the things we want to try, and then also knowing what funding sources are available, we can say, there’s this opportunity, let’s apply or have a lead organization apply who is a non-profit and we will all deliver on whatever the solution is … that is what we’re talking about: coming together, finding funding, delivering a solution, and being in action.”
Hear more from Yuki at the February meeting recording, starting at 44:59.
What do partners say so far?
Mike Parker of Opportunity Council recognized there is comfort with “prescriptive contracts with defined measurement,” such as the Medicaid Transformation Project. However,
Those things don’t afford a lot of creativity, and so while this may feel unsettling and a little bit new it also can be a spark of creativity. For us, working regionally is one of the great benefits, has been one of the great benefits through [the Medicaid] transformation program. The problems we deal with are so regional or wider than that even, so I just look for more creative opportunities to do out of the box solutions, because obviously what we’ve been doing hasn’t been creating the thriving conditions we want.
So this type of model is maybe exactly what we need to do because it’s different, because it will afford opportunities for us to connect across our different organizations, service territories, you name it, languages… so I’m hopeful.”
Nicole Picknell of South (Snohomish) County Fire said its taken time for her and colleagues in her line of work to get comfortable with creative thinking.
Its super hard for us to be ok with being comfortable with the uncomfortable,” she shared. But working with others, “With the north sound ACH, we did start bringing the community resource paramedics together, and that really started us to find a space that we could feel comfortable in talking about, and there’s value in listening to other people, cause theres things I’ve learned on here that I’m like, oh I had no idea that we actually have a connection.”
Hear more from partners by watching the February learning session on our YouTube page.
We invite you to bring more questions to the team – you can always email us at Team@NorthSoundACH.org – and at the next partner learning session on March 16. There, we will break out the attendees into the cohorts they are participating in, to get started together!