By Kruse Scholar Mohammad Bushnaq
Communities of Excellence is focused on achieving the health and wellbeing of all the residents within that community itself. To do, so, the framework asks that the primary focus be on education, health, economic vitality, and safety. In theory, this all sounds wonderful. In reality, however, it is actually very difficult to do. The main reason for the complications is that gathering all of the important parties is often the tallest task of them all. Many groups of the different areas: education, health, economic vitality, and safety want to be as involved in the process as possible. So, how does a community leader create buy-in and make sure all of the necessary cliques are at the table when the decisions are being made for a community? That is the most intriguing aspect of Communities of Excellence for me.
As a Kruse Scholar at the University of Minnesota, we had the privilege of meeting with a representative from Healthy Minnesota Partnership. I was specifically amazed at how they were able to invite community representatives to be working towards their common goal, "to improve the health and quality of life for individuals, families, and communities in Minnesota." Another aspect that gave me hope for the efficiency of Communities of Excellence moving forward was the fact that these meetings they were having were open to the public to attend, give input, and hopefully join the partnership one day should they find a group to represent. The Healthy Minnesota Partnership would be an ideal partner for the Communities of Excellence should they decide to try to establish a trial run there sometime soon.
So, how does one go about creating the "burning platform" for some of these not-for-profit organizations to join hands with schools, health systems, and the government. I mean, they all have very important work that they are doing already. Health systems are providing medical care to keep us alive, schools are teaching the next generation, the government is trying to maintain the law and order of the land, and not-for-profit organizations are providing a lot of charity work to many people in need around the world. It is not like all of these people are sitting around twiddling their thumbs not knowing what to do next. As a result, community leadership really needs to help them paint a picture of where the deficiencies are within a community and how working together between these sectors could help eliminate the weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
Let us not kid ourselves. Communities of Excellence is no small task. To undertake change within the community, the partnership really must be focused on a culture of inclusion, not exclusion. If you have not, as a group of leaders, created an environment that allows people of all different mentalities and backgrounds to contribute, you will have failed. The path to success is one of incorporation and, while it may be a difficult one, it will be very rewarding in the end. You cannot really argue with that.
It goes back to one of the first things we learned as children. Play nice and play together.
Read more about Mohmmad Bushnaq here