Fall 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 3

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Editor's Page


Working With and Through Others

It's hard. It really is. Working with others can be a real pain.

All kinds of very good reasons exist to avoid having to work with others. Indeed, I've become convinced that there's only one reason to ever work with and through others - it's ultimately more effective. As long as you're not interested in effectiveness, you really don't have to bother with other people.

My job as editor would be a lot easier if every article didn't have to go through the peer review process. I could just pick and choose what I like. But the Journal would suffer significantly without the improvements that come from the reactions and insights of the Editorial Committee and assistant editor.

These reflections are stimulated by a major theme of this issue of the Journal: increasing effectiveness by working with and through others. In the last year, we've received more articles on this theme than any other single topic. This issue features a number of those articles.

Extending Extension's Effectiveness

Edgar Boone from North Carolina opens this issue with a To the Point article on "Crossing Lines." He believes the major challenge to effective issues-based programming is interdisciplinary, cross-program, and university-wide teamwork. He also advocates joint efforts with other agencies and organizations. But crossing lines isn't easy and will require, he believes, a major new staff development effort. Violet Malone and Judy Yates provide responses to Boone's ideas.

The first special feature section is on educating caregivers for the elderly. These four articles provide different perspectives on Extension's role in educating caregivers as a way of meeting the needs of the elderly. These caregivers then extend to the elderly what they've learned. Extension works with and through caregivers to meet the needs of the elderly, whether in homes or in institutions.

There's also a special feature section on working with volunteers. These six articles on using volunteers illustrate a variety of strategies, types of volunteers, and how to avoid classic volunteerism problems.

The Forum by Susan Laughlin from California addresses "The Challenge of Working with Extenders." She examines the strengths and weaknesses of using extenders and concludes they're now more important than ever because of: "Growing populations, dwindling staff resources, new client demands, and political pressures to deliver solutions to imposing social problems...."

Extenders as Disciples Spreading Knowledge

I was once in the office of a department head known for his autocratic style and intolerance of others' opinions. He hated involving others in decisions or departmental processes. On his wall was a plaque that read:

For God so loved the world that he didn't send a committee to save us. He sent only one man.

As the department head continued to resist any notion of shared decision making and involvement of others on the project we were discussing, I pointed to the witticism on the wall and asked: "Are you the one man God sent to the save world?"

Before he could reply, I continued: "Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't you forgotten the rest of the story. It may be true that God so loved the world that He didn't send a committee. But as I remember the story, the first thing Jesus did in His ministry was organize a group to help him with His work and to carry on after He was gone."

If you know an autocratic or go-it-alone type, you might want to give that person a blessing. Mark a few passages from this issue of the Journal and extend our knowledge base about working with and through others - after, of course, you've read this issue yourself.