Posted Thursday, May 1, 2014 by Team Northwoods

Cookie Cutter Training Won’t Cut It for Protective Services Part 4: It’s Not About the Software, It’s About the Process Change

We caught up with three Northwoodians with expertise in our mobility solution for protective services to find out why our training approach – Northwoods’ Coach Model – resonates so well with social workers. 

Coach-Model-Headshot-Rich-Bowlen Coach-Model-Headshot-Charles-Barber Coach-Model-Headshot-Matt-Leasure The result is this 7-part blog and video series featuring contributions by Rich Bowlen, Director, Protective Services; Charles Barber, Solution Analyst; and Matt Leasure, Project Manager. 

It's Not About the Software, It's About the Process Change

It seems that everywhere you look, someone is on a mobile device. That’s probably because more than half of American adults have a smartphone, and nearly half have a tablet.*

The volume isn’t really the interesting part. What’s interesting is that most people don’t need to learn how to use their new device or even the software created for their device. By design, the equipment and user interface are intuitive. However, people do need to be conditioned when to use the equipment and software so it’s not something they have to actively think about; it’s part of their everyday process.

For instance, a couple on their way to dinner may have the most user-friendly, helpful reservations app since sliced bread, but it’s useless if they show up at a restaurant and don’t remember the app until after they’ve already checked in with the hostess.

The same holds true in human services, specifically protective services. Technology cannot replace the role of social worker; it is just a tool to help them do their job a little faster or with less frustration. But social services agencies need to help social workers understand how, when, and why to use a new tool as part of their daily process or it will slow down their work and they’ll revert back to the old way of doing things.

(This one-minute video highlights Charles, Rich, and a Minnesota social worker, who explain how Northwoods' training shows workers how to use technology in everyday processes.)

Human services agencies need hands-on training and support that helps workers embrace new technology so it’s not a hindrance, but an invisible extension of their daily work to keep children safe and families feeling successful.

Learn more about Northwoods’ Coach Model by downloading the business brief, Cookie Cutter Training Won't Cut it for Protective Services.

View the series:

Part 1: The Typical Approach
Part 2: Protective Services is Different, You Have to Train Different
Part 3: We Train on the Job, Not Just in the Classroom
>Part 4: It’s Not About the Software, It’s About the Process Change
Part 5: Northwoods Coach Model
Part 6: What does it Mean to be a Coach?
Part 7: What to Expect After Northwoods Leaves

*Brenner, Joanna. Pew Internet: Mobile. Pew Internet & American Life Project, Sept. 18, 2013,, accessed on Feb. 4, 2014.