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What is a Person

Centered Organization/System

Updated February 28, 2012

“Becoming a Person-Centered Organization” builds on processes that are working to support and expand the implementation of person-centered practices and principles at three levels:

  1. enhancing and developing excellent person-centered practices at the individual level,
  2. making necessary policy and practice changes at the organization level to support changes at the individual level, and
  3. recommending changes in practice, structure, regulations, and rules at the state level that will support systems change.

The process, training, and technical assistance that support the implementation of the process were developed by Michael Smull, Mary Lou Bourne, and others who work with their organization, Support Development Associates (SDA). SDA is involved with and provides a leadership role in each organization that engages in this process. The components of the process for becoming a person-centered organization include:

Kick-Off Day
This is a “getting started” day with the organization’s leadership and state representatives. Participants concentrate on defining success for their organization and developing initial outcome statements.
Leadership Training Day
The designated leadership team refines outcomes for their organization. The organization defines success and develops success statements for the people supported, employees, and the organizations involved; reviews commitments and activities; and learns about process maps.

Person Centered Thinking (PCT) Training
A training session for all staff members in an organization. All leadership and potential coaches must attend this training. Often it is necessary to provide this training several times over the two year time period in order to include all employees.

Coaches Training
It is hoped that 100% of supervisors and case managers become coaches. Coaches go through PCT training prior to this training and this training focuses on the role of the coach in the person-centered process.

Leadership and Coaches Support Meetings
Coaches meet monthly in a facilitated discussion about what skills and tools have been tried, the learning that occurred, the successes and the concerns. Leadership and coaches meet together every-other month in order that leadership committee members can learn from coaches what is working and not working. Leadership committee members commit to continue ‘what’s working’ and address ‘what’s not working.’ They also decide what changes need to be taken to and addressed at the state level.

Learning and Reflection
The leadership team spends a day in a facilitated discussion and graphic representation determining accomplishments over the year, concerns and how to address them, a status report, and plans for the next year.

Deciding to be involved in Becoming a Person-Centered Organization includes a time, resource, and philosophical commitment of leadership, administrative and management, and direct support professionals to all levels of change. Following is a summary of the commitment for the training and technical assistance sessions.

Leadership Team Time

Coaches Time

Direct Support Professionals

1 day for kick-off event

2 days person-centered thinking

1 day leadership team training

1 day every other month for two years (leadership/coaches meetings)

1 day yearly of learning and reflection

2 days person-centered thinking

1 day coaches training

1 day every month for two years (alternate between coaches support and leadership/coaches meetings)


2 days person-centered thinking












If you have any questions regarding the BPCO process, or if your organization is interested in participating in this process, please contact Dawn Machonis at, 804-828-1335.