A successful communitywide strategic planning process requires careful preparation. The purpose of this phase is to lay out a planning process that builds commitment, engages participants, uses participants' time well, and results in a plan that can be implemented successfully. These activities are crucial to putting a community on the path toward a successful community health improvement process.
Two interrelated activities occur during this phase:
- Organize for Success: Decide whether to use the MAPP process and outline the planning process.
- Partnership Development: Identify and recruit participants, including the MAPP Committee.
How to Conduct the Organize for Success/Partnership Development Phase
Step 1: Determine the necessity of undertaking the MAPP process.
The first step in organizing the MAPP process is gaining a clear understanding of why such a process is needed. This understanding helps focus planning efforts and assists in the recruitment and sustained involvement of participants. In addition to identifying reasons for initiating MAPP, participants should also consider the benefits they hope to gain from the process and the obstacles that may be encountered along the way.
Step 2: Identify and organize participants.
During this step, careful consideration should be given to identifying and recruiting participants. Conveners should seek broad representation from local public health system partners, other community organizations, and community residents. Participants' expectations, time commitments, and logistics should determine how the group will be organized. The MAPP Committee will provide oversight throughout the process, but subcommittees should be identified to carry out specific activities.
Step 3: Design the planning process.
Designing a process involves answering several related questions: "What will the process entail?" "How long will it take?" "What results are we seeking, and how will we know when we are finished?" and "Who will do the work?" All of the MAPP phases should be carefully reviewed and used to develop a timeline and workplan that meets the community's needs.
Step 4: Assess resource needs and secure commitment.
While the principal resources for the planning effort will be time and energy contributed by the participants, other resources will be needed as well. Some of these include meeting space, refreshments, report production and printing, and costs associated with information gathering and data collection. Participants should identify resource needs and determine sources for meeting those needs. Some resources may be available through in-kind donations from participating organizations.
Step 5: Conduct a readiness assessment
The information collected in the previous four steps should provide a clear picture of the community's preparedness to begin the MAPP process. As a final review, the readiness assessment should ensure that all of the critical elements are in place.
Step 6: Manage the process
The final step in organizing the MAPP process is to consider how the process will be managed as it moves forward. This involves paying attention to the many details that may affect the success of a community planning process. Tools such as a project proposal, master calendars, and meeting agendas should be developed. A process for clarifying assignments and managing the work should also be outlined. Careful preparation puts the community on the path to a successful MAPP process.