Learning from Success: Its Implications for the “Lights to Employment” Program of Amin, Documented Success as a Source of Principles of Action that Promote Employment 2006-2008

This report summarizes the first stage of the partnership begun in 2006 between the Unit of Learning from Success and Ongoing Learning in Human Service Systems, on the one hand, and Amin, which is implementing the “Lights to Employment” program in Jerusalem. The goal of the program is to integrate people into the workforce while reducing their reliance on state coffers. The program is mandatory and participation in it is a necessary condition for receiving welfare benefits. Program centers are implemented by for-profit partnerships of international and Israeli business firms. In the Jerusalem area, the program is implemented by Amin. Amin is a limited partnership of the British multinational A4e and the Israeli Amanet.

The partnership between the Unit of Learning from Success and Amin focused on identifying the company’s ways of working with the target population in cases of objective success (participants returned to work) and subjective success (the change in their lives was to their satisfaction). To this end, 17 learning sessions were held with five groups of Amin staff filling various positions. They were based on Learning from Success – the Retrospective Method, 2006. In the course of the learning, 20 stories told by the staff were documented. They include, for example, the story of a young Gypsy who started to work; a debt-ridden single mother who settled her affairs and began to work; an illiterate Arab woman and mother of nine who had never worked and began earning a living.

The success stories thus uncovered were processed and yielded the chief actions taken by the staff, as well as principles of action. Of all the principles derived from the 20 stories, 14 were formulated as general principles of action common to many of the stories, and six were unique to specific stories. They include, for instance: setting limits while using authority wisely; high availability; sensitivity to a participant’s cultural background; informing participants of their rights and combining individual and group work.

The process of learning documented in this report is the first stage on the road to instituting ongoing learning in these organizations as a way of creating a broad knowledge base or “theory of action”. Preparations have begun for the second stage, which will center on introducing ongoing learning into the whole organization. The focus of the second stage will be developing and improving the work processes aimed at integrating people in employment. It may involve other organizations dealing with the issue in frameworks similar or dissimilar to Amin’s.

The report was published with the assistance of the Marshall Weinberg Fund for Professional Collaboration and Development.

Citations in the professional and academic literature

Biesel, K. (2014). Wenn Jugendämter scheitern: Zum Umgang mit Fehlern im Kinderschutz (Vol. 4). transcript Verlag.

Wolff, R., Flick, U., Ackermann, T., Biesel, K., Brandhorst, F., Heinitz, S., … & Röhnsch, G. (2013). Aus Fehlern lernen–Qualitätsmanagement im Kinderschutz. Verlag Barbara Budrich.