Step 3: Taking Action
"We have invited new enthusiastic partners to the table to help develop our action plan. These new members have reinvigorated our team." —Community service provider
Once the data have been collected and analyzed, the challenging part begins. Acting on the information from the mapping process is an important step. What are you going to do with the information now? The misconception exists that once resources are identified and mapped, the work is completed. It is not. The greatest challenge in community resource mapping often exists in developing a plan of action for implementing the map. This step in the process allows the community to take action in planning and building its system.
What Helps People Reach Consensus
In addition, for each major action identified, try to anticipate any potential challenges to proceeding with the plan and document methods for overcoming these challenges. If this action is done at the beginning, there will be fewer surprises, stalls, and delays as you implement the action plan. A good action plan has a reasonable timeline, well-coordinated strategies, assigned roles and responsibilities, and clear benchmarks for success.
Many people have taken part in developing an action plan. And many people have experienced the frustration when completed action plans collect dust on someone’s shelf. Establishing an organizational structure up front allows for ease of implementation and follow-through of your action plan as well as the entire mapping process. There are three critical roles that task force members play to facilitate the implementation of an action plan:
These responsibilities are not mutually exclusive. It is possible for one person or organization to work across more than one of these functions. Make sure when assigning roles that you include all stakeholders. As a result, you will be able to implement your map with more ease and, perhaps, cultivate the skills of your partners.
The task force must now determine the best method to communicate and share the content of the action plan. New knowledge gained from the mapping process needs to be shared with the community in a comprehensible and meaningful way. Communicating and disseminating new information are both complex tasks that require the development of a strategy.
What do you need to consider when planning a strategy for sharing the action plan you have developed? Decisions about the appropriate communication pathways should be informed by what is known about the target audiences, the content, and its possible applications. The timing of any dissemination activity should be carefully planned to maximize its impact. Remember, the goal of your communication and dissemination efforts is the utilization of your findings/product(s).
First, consider the intended target audiences when communicating your community resource map. You will need to communicate to these audiences how the goals and information gained from the mapping process are compatible with their individual or organizational needs, beliefs, and circumstances.
Ask yourself the following questions when determining how best to communicate and disseminate your community resource mapping plan to your targeted audiences:
Next, evaluate the information content—the message to be communicated and disseminated. Think about what aspects of the mapping information may motivate particular target audiences to change in an effort to improve their outcomes. Information use requires a willingness to change on the part of the user. It is important, then, to know what motivates your audiences and tailor your communication and dissemination efforts to those motivations.
Then think about the way in which your findings are designed, described, packaged, and transmitted to your target audiences. A general principle is that optimum dissemination is achieved through using a wide variety of pathways, from traditional to innovative and from print to electronic media. It is important to ensure both the physical availability and accessibility of the materials to as much of your target audiences as possible. For each information medium, consider the following factors (National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research, 1996):
Consider mapping the dissemination mechanisms in your local community as well as at your regional, state, and national levels. This task may inform you as to the most productive or feasible avenues for your dissemination efforts, as well as help identify individuals or organizations that can support your efforts.
Finally, the communication and dissemination plan must have both a leadership component and an evaluation component. Decide which individual or organization will oversee the plan; what the timeline for dissemination will be; what time constraints may interfere with your progress; and how these challenges will be addressed. Team members must also evaluate whether there is adequate funding for dissemination to be carried out effectively now and in the future.
It is critical to evaluate the effectiveness of your work. Responsibility for monitoring and measuring the impact of your products must be assigned to task force members. Remember to evaluate your efforts to communicate new information and disseminate this knowledge, as well as the efforts of the target audiences to use each technical assistance service to improve their performance outcomes.
Table of Contents
3: Taking Action
4: Maintaining, Sustaining, and Evaluating Mapping Efforts
Citation: Crane, K., & Mooney,
M. (2005). Essential tools: Community resource mapping. Minneapolis,
MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National
Center on Secondary Education and Transition.
Permission is granted to duplicate this publication in its entirety or portions thereof. Upon request, this publication will be made available in alternative formats. For additional copies of this publication, or to request an alternate format, please contact: Institute on Community Integration Publications Office, 109 Pattee Hall, 150 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, (612) 624-4512, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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