Because people often want to immediately get to work and "solve"
the problem, it can be hard to convince them of the necessity of
taking time to discuss, plan, and reach consensus. Once that vital
preliminary work is done, then it is time to identify actions that
move people out of the idea stage into the results stage. An action
agenda guides the group for getting things done and realizing their
goals and ultimately their visions.
has shown us that the more concise, targeted, and thorough the action
agenda is, the more likely people will enthusiastically connect
and volunteer to get the work accomplished. Avoid the temptation
to belabor its production or make its scope too large. An action
agenda is a snapshot-in-time, a summary document that depicts what
needs to be done and urges that it get done.
An action agenda, also called an action plan, is an annotated list
of proposed outcomes. The purposes of an action agenda are to schedule
proposed actions, to remind participants of past decisions and agreed-upon
goals, and to provide a means for viewing the entire range of recommended
in a table or chart format, the plan gives only enough information
and guidance to get people working on the actions they have collectively
decided on. It can be organized in various ways: topics, dates,
sequence, priorities, responsibility, geography, or level of interest.
Each step within the plan clearly defines the components of what,
who, when and how.
is the name or short description given to the action.
is the list of one or more individuals or group to be involved
and responsible for conducting the action.
identifies the tasks necessary for completion such as seeking
financial assistance or funding, getting technical recommendations,
acquiring resources, making contacts, etc.
refers to the timing of the action. Projected dates may be used,
or the list may simply be organized in sequence. Less precise
terms, such as "immediate" and "later" or
"near-term" and "long-term," can allow more
flexibility; specific dates can always be added.
be succinct to keep the action agenda small and manageable, while
effectively explaining and guiding. Future iterations of the agenda
may be produced later as actions are completed or plans modified.
1. Make sure
the group is ready
The action agenda
should build on work already done within a group: goals have been
set, visions imagined, ideas discussed, and issues explored. People
have developed a sense of who they are within the group and what
their purposes are for being together. They know some of their strengths
and weaknesses, opportunities and constraints. They see what needs
to be done, and how it might be accomplished.
Using the group's goals as guidelines, ask the question, "What do
we need to do in order to achieve our goals?" List the answers on
flipcharts or large Post-Itģ sheets. Brainstorm at first, then narrow
the field down to what is practical, agreeable, feasible and timely.
Make a selection among all the ideas. Select and re-select until
there is consensus on a list of actions that can actually be accomplished
by the people involved, with the resources they can bring to bear.
If a member or sub-group of the overall group is already engaged
in an action that fits the groups' goals, include that in the agenda
as a way to get an early success and to give credit and support
to that action or to the group doing it. This becomes an example
of how the whole process can work, how each action can be accomplished.
Once you have a consensus list of actions, begin deliberating on
the naming and wording of each one. The words used to describe the
action will tell much about what needs to be done. The name of an
action may make it or break it - in promoting it, in instilling
it with vitality, in establishing its meaning.
Decide who needs
to be involved in the action. If after careful thought no one can
be named, ask the question: "Is this do-able?" Without designated
responsibility, there will not be enough impetus to follow through.
If the group is committed to the action being included, then someone
will step forward; otherwise, delete it.
amount of time required to do the job. Work backward from the completion
date to calculate when to begin the project. Evaluate each action
in the context of all other actions to see if priorities can guide
the timing, and to see how it fits, time-wise, into the overall
identifying the needs of the action. Is there a need for money?
Does the group need to recruit additional volunteers? Does the action
suggest that you might want to apply for a grant from a foundation
or government agency? Is sufficient expertise represented in the
'who' list to either fulfill the action directly or find a way to
get others to do it? Are material resources needed? Is further planning
needed? Looking at the action, the way it is worded, who is responsible
and involved, and when you want it accomplished are clues for the
formulation of the 'how' component. If able, schedule a second meeting
to discuss this last step. Fresh minds and clear thinking are an
advantage. It may also be more effective for those who are responsible
for completing this task to create a work plan that specifies the
steps and materials necessary. In other words, create a mini action
agenda for each task detailing how and when the task will be accomplished.
This smaller group can then report back to the larger group at a
7. Pull it
Draw the material
together and type it up. In addition to the actions, consider including
an introduction giving the background on the group's formation,
steps taken to this point, and goal statements and visions. Also
have a short conclusion about what is going to happen next.