Beating the odds [PDF]

People with Severe and Profound Disabilities as a Resource in the Development of Supported Employment

John O’Brien & Connie Lyle O’Brien


Effective supported employment agencies promote organiza- tional learning. Learning organizations use their power to search for situations that challenge their settled ways of thinking and stretch them to discover new competencies. They thought- fully choose challenging partners and risk collaboration with them, even, or especially, when the collaboration causes them uncertainty and maybe even anxiety. They do this because they believe that they can achieve more meaningful results for ev- eryone who relies on them by prospecting for new possibilities. Stagnating organizations use their power to avoid re-thinking their assumptions and to keep demands comfortably predictable. They seek to work only with those who reinforce their current mechanisms for control and leave their current mental models undisturbed. They do this because they see no reward in risking the familiar. (Normann,2001).

People with severe and profound disabilities are a prized re- source to supported employment programs that want to be learn- ing organizations and a dire threat to supported employment organizations that just want to get by comfortably. They are a re- source for the same four reasons that they are a threat.