Implementing the Plan
The plan itself should contain the kind of detail that will provide a timeline and assign responsibilities for implementation steps. You can do the following to ensure the plan is accomplished.
Request progress reports. Progress reports should be a part of every meeting. Team members should feel that the work of the team is moving forward; in addition, having to report on their assigned responsibilities from the action plan will give them a sense of accountability for the team's work.
Use task forces or committees. The team's work can often be accomplished more efficiently through task forces or committees. By including individuals who are not team members in these groups, you can garner additional support for the team as well as relieve team members of total responsibility for accomplishing the team's work.
Use timelines as a guide. The timelines established in the action plan should be taken seriously and used to guide the work of the team. They should, however, be evaluated periodically to see if they are realistic or if they need revision.
Create an advisory committee. An advisory committee composed of community representatives can be an asset in accomplishing the team's objectives. In addition to providing access to additional resources, advisory committee members can provide insight into aspects of the work of the team.
Even though members may have a shared vision for their work as a team, they may have trouble maintaining the initial energy that mobilized the team. Some strategies for sustaining the team's momentum include the following:
Share success stories. It is important for the team to feel a sense of accomplishment. Sharing successful outcomes that are a result of the team's efforts can help members feel they are involved in something worthwhile. Devote a portion of each team meeting to this activity.
Regular update of action plan. The ac-tion plan should be updated yearly, if possible in a retreat setting. Strive for the same type of planning environment as was used to create the initial plan. This planning time will allow team members to focus on their role as a team member and evalu-ate their work during the past year.
Expand or change the membership of the team. Expanding or changing the team membership will bring the same kind of infusion of new ideas to the team as leadership changes. Some members may need a break from their team responsibilities. Also, members representing additional agencies may be added as a natural outgrowth of the team's expanding work.
Some common pitfalls to avoid include the following (Guthrie and Guthrie 1991):
Equating information with knowledge. Although it is important to have information about the respective agencies and about common problems and issues, this information must be absorbed before taking action. Time for reflection is an important aspect of the team's work.
Using excessive jargon. In the spirit of collaboration, speak in terms that all partners can understand. Avoid using alphabet soup acronyms that have meaning only internally.
If your team is successful in its efforts to provide improved services to at-risk youth and adults, it will be much easier to maintain its momentum. Sometimes, despite the best leadership efforts, local conditions simply do not support interagency collaboration. If this is the case in your community, you may need to wait for a more opportune climate but you can use the time to develop networks that will foster future linkages.
Questions to Consider in Step Six: Follow Up and Follow Through
2. What can be done to ensure that the team's objectives are accomplished?
3. Should working committees or task forces be established to help in accomplishing the team's plan?
4. Could an advisory committee be an asset to the team in its work?
5. What procedures should the team put in place to ensure continuity of leadership for itself?
6. What procedures should be established to add new members to the team?
7. What steps can the team take to maintain its energy?