By: Ken McGill
Senior Training and Consultation Specialist

Connecting It All Together…

The work within the field of ‘human services’ can often become quite complicated, especially from the perspective of those we serve…the children/youth & families. I have often wondered, “Why do we make things so complicated?” I thought with all of the advances of modern life, such as internet, wireless communication and the interconnectedness of world-wide economies our lives would be less complicated or at least more ‘user-friendly’ to solve problems or overcome challenges.

If we take a moment to think of how communication and information sharing has advanced in such a short period of a time…the personal computer or Apple came on the scene in 1976 when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak introduced the Apple-1 a single-board computer for hobbyists. With an order for 50 assembled systems from Mountain View, California computer store The Byte Shop in hand, the pair started a new company, naming it Apple Computer, Inc. In all, about 200 of the boards were sold before Apple announced the follow-on Apple II a year later (1977) as a ready-to-use computer for consumers, a model that sold in the millions for nearly two decades.

Bringing technology to the masses…Apple II sold complete with a main logic board, switching power supply, keyboard, case, manual, game paddles, and cassette tape containing the game Breakout, the Apple-II finds popularity far beyond the hobbyist community, which made up Apple’s user community until then. When connected to a color television set, the Apple II produced brilliant color graphics for the time. Millions of Apple IIs were sold between 1977 and 1993, making it one of the longest-lived lines of personal computers. Apple gave away thousands of Apple IIs to school, giving a new generation their first access to personal computers.1

You may be asking, “How Does This Connect to Human Services?”

I would encourage everyone who plays a role in the Human Service field to read ‘Communimetrics: A Communication Theory of Measurement in Human Service Settings2 written by Dr. Lyons back in 2009. It is one of those texts that changes the way you conceptualize and structure service delivery for the 21st Century. Dr. Lyons writes that communimetrics has been designed to make thinking processes transparent and provide a conceptual organization or framework for the thinkers to be attuned to the relevant factors that must be thought through in any particular circumstance.2

It is communimetrics we use the Child Adolescents Needs & Strengths or CANS Tools and the over-arching framework of Transformational Collaborative Outcomes Management (TCOM) to better serve those children/youth & families. How I see it, there are two primary components to Communimetrics-Communication and Information.

Since we cannot separate communication and information with technology, it only makes sense to connect them with the primary language of computers…binary codes…0s and 1s. 

Did you know? A 22-year-old graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created the binary code back in 1937. Claude E. Shannon while completing his master’s thesis in electrical engineering proposed a method for applying a mathematical form of logic called Boolean algebra to the design of relay switching circuits. This innovation, credited as the advance that transformed circuit design “from an art to a science,” remains the basis for circuit and chip design to this day. It was in his paper that he used the word “bit,” short for binary digit. Shannon’s thesis became a starting point for the use of the binary code in practical computer applications.… this is why Claude E. Shannon is often called the Founder of Classical Information Theory.3

A binary code can be easily applied to the CANS on two different levels. On one level, the binary is the strength and need. Whereas, on another level the 0,1 are the non-action ratings and the 2, 3 are the action ratings…binary codes.

We can agree that transformation is a goal of treatment…outcomes which significantly affect the lives of others. Communimetrics and TCOM can be the conduits for systemic changes…I say that we must all take ownership of our roles (or binary family level and systems level).  Let us all push beyond ‘system of care’ mindsets and move toward ‘systems that care’ for those we serve!

  1. The Computer History Museum-Timeline of Computer History. (2020) Retrieved on January 23, 2020 from
  2. The John Praed Foundation. Communimetrics. (2020) Retrieved on January 23, 2020 from
  3. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Information Theory Society (2020) Retrieved on January 23, 2020 from

8 Responses

  1. I really like that you link communimetrics to Shannon and information theory. I totally agree that Lyons’ work builds off of the insights of information theory, and information theory is the ground that allows us to manipulate communimetric statements effectively for prediction and control. It really is an exciting time to do work in communimetrics, because we now have the hardware, software … and human power to implement large scale TCOM systems that we can analyze and massage towards value for children and families.

  2. Ken – Thank you for reminding us that self-observation is a skill we can use beyond the individual self to the systems we work in. The complexity of computers really comes down to many many binary choices, and we are completely unaware of all the binary choices behind the computer we literally tap into daily. How much more complex a single individual, and even more complex individuals in relationship AKA a system. Communimetric tools cause us to pause and consider the what — and then the why — behind the binary choices made.

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