Change for the Better

Meridian, Idaho

Dear Gentle Blog Reader,

I wondered when I wrote yesterday’s post about the police and the new mental health coordinator why that was so important to me, and it finally dawned on me late yesterday.

ChangeAside from the obvious fact that there’s a lack of knowledge and understanding about mental illness and how it affects us, what struck me about the hiring of a mental health coordinator is that it represents a fundamental change in how we approach situations.

In the past, we relied on experts within specific fields to answer questions. Then for a period of between five and ten years, everyone was expected to be experts on nearly everything. Now, it appears that we are moving back to segmented experts.

Bear with me as I show an example of this…

I used to work as a liaison between computer users and computer programmers. Here’s how it worked:

  1. The users would describe a problem they were having with the information system.
  2. I would determine if there was a technical solution to their problem.
  3. If there was, I would submit the specifications to the programmers who would alter the system code to solve the problem.

While researching the problem, I would interview subject matter experts (SMEs)–a individual who an level of expertise in the area involved.


This was extremely effective. Users who worked with the system daily, got input into making the system more effective and them more efficient in their jobs. The programmers who think differently than users didn’t have to decipher was the users wanted because I had done it.

But something started changed about five years ago in the business world which phased middle level positions including liaisons and SMEs.

I think the reasons included the following:

  1. The explosion of the Internet both in usage and content available,
  2. the exponential use of Google to find answers, and
  3. most importantly, the reduction of staffing to make organizations as lean as possible.

And, in my humble opinion, many organizations lost their efficiency and effectiveness.


When the Boise Police Department hired the mental health coordinator, in essence a subject matter expert, they have increased both their efficiency and their effectiveness both for their police officers and for the mentally ill.

Efficiency because each police office doesn’t need to research solutions and resources for the unique situations they come across when helping the mentally ill.

Effectiveness because they will be better able to do their job knowing that they can easily get answers.

This is a change for the better…