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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Little Friends: Our new world… doing more with less


There are months writing this column when the topic to cover is easy to write about. Reflecting on the fact that this month starts “year six” in providing a story for Positively Naperville, I always hope that the topic chosen is relevant and helpful to those who take the time to read it. As I was thinking about what to share, I started to think about what topic I was spending the most time on these days. As I thought about it, my conclusion was that many businesses are spending their time on the same subject.

In the past, I’ve written about the need for more workers to help with what we do. Being in a business where the model requires people to provide supportive services to children and adults with special needs, it is logical to conclude that it becomes challenging to provide the necessary supports to those who need us if we don’t have people to do the work. I think the pandemic (now maybe more appropriately called an endemic after two years) has provided many with these same perspectives.

For the past several months, I have participated in briefings with other organizations and hear firsthand the struggles that are being faced across the country with the work we do. Yes, people are frustrated with not having enough staff to fulfill obligations as we know them. Yet, I’m struck by the positive attitudes that so many have dealing with this issue. Because of this approach, we and others are finding new ways to help people and provide services (and for some products) with less resources than we had two years ago.

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Is there a magic answer to the problem? My take is that the answer is “no.” However, a lot of things that in combination allow all of us to move forward and do what is necessary to survive and grow. I strongly believe that it starts with a positive attitude that simply states that we will figure out the challenge and find a way to overcome the new environment. That has translated for us to being flexible and adapting to what comes our way.

While sometimes easier said than done, we have to be committed to accepting that things have changed and that we can’t just wait for people to come back to work. Being adaptive means that we have to “wear new hats” that maybe a couple of years ago were not something we had even considered. Maybe most important, we need to apply new technologies that we hadn’t considered but will now because of necessity. A digital transformation is coming in our service world, and I suspect more than one topic for this column will get shared in the time to come.

While the story started with not having enough people to do the work, I think the message really is that we and many other businesses today are spending our time adapting to the changes we have been dealt with. We are figuring out how to do more with less, and because of this will survive and grow in the time to come. From my vantage point, what matters most is that by doing these things, we will still be there for the people we serve and their families who count on us to do what matters. It makes the time being spent well worth it!

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Mike Briggs
Mike Briggshttp://littlefriendsinc.org
Mike Briggs is the President and CEO of Little Friends. Little Friends empowers clients with autism and other developmental disabilities to thrive in our community. Their groundbreaking programs and nationally-renowned staff provide lifelong opportunities for growth, so their clients can work, learn, play and experience the joy of life’s everyday moments.


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