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Process Model - Collaborative Action

The attention required for this aspect of a MSP will vary on the nature of the MSP itself.   In some cases a MSP may not move into an implementing and managing phase as the objective of the MSP was only to arrive at decisions or perhaps to involved stakeholders in a consultation process.  However in many situations the MSP will move onto a phase of involving stakeholder in implementing the strategies and plans identified during the strategic planning phase.  

By definition, this component of the initiative should be where the bulk of the resources, time and activity are invested. The earlier time spent researching and planning has been to ensure that the actual ‘doing’ is well-considered and appropriate. To maintain the quality and effectiveness of this component:

  • management structures need to be appropriate, responsive and resilient;
  • action plans need to be well-considered and responsibilities understood and communicated; and
  • participants and stakeholders need to be kept informed and encouraged to ‘critique’ as they contribute;
  • participants and stakeholders need to have leadership capacities and capacities in order to delegate and mange the different component of the MSP.


In addition, due to the complexity of the task coordination across all phases of the initiative needs to be continually improved. This component of an MSP is also often where people can be busy but not necessarily effective if the ‘setting up’ and ‘planning strategically’ components have not been done, and done well.

 

1 - Develop integrated initiatives and detailed action plans

Many projects and their associated actions enable achievement of the strategy. The projects have to be well-thought-out and need to be integrated with the broader needs of other strategies and policies that are shaping the region.

  • Projects need to be well-planned and well-developed. Seek the assistance of specialists outside your group.
  • Determine and then illustrate how the projects are interlinked in achieving the strategy (remember the community, economy and environment foci).
  • Reflect the changes in your operating conditions. Link into relevant aspects of regional/State/Commonwealth strategies and policies (e.g. regional catchment strategies, State business incentive programs, national telecommunications initiatives): often they are well-informed and/or can bring resources to your region.
  • Constantly check that actions are indeed necessary; unnecessary actions are an easy way to burn out resources and people without achieving desired results.
  • Matching projects with a mentor, specialist or reference group can assist

 

2 - Secure resources and technical support

Now is the time to determine what resources and support you need - and to work at harnessing them. Having planned well, you can be confident of clearly promoting the projects that make up your initiative to potential sponsors, investors and contributors of skills. Often sponsors are more able to provide their products, services or facilities than money. Thus, seek out sponsors who make the products or services you need. For example:

  • for promotion, approach radio/newspapers for complimentary air-time;
  • for a small conference, approach the local council for complimentary use of hall facilities;
  • if wishing to brief regional business CEOs, approach one for the use of a boardroom.
  • Secure previously-made offers of finance, materials, information and skills — return with your plan and refined thinking.
  • When applying for grants or sponsorship, be aware that whilst some are set, with little flexibility, there may be opportunities to negotiate independently for a partnership that better fits your plans.
  • Target and organise your lobbying - who can you influence and what will it take? Which members of your MSP have significant influence in the business sector, government spheres etc?
  • Explore sponsorship both within and outside the region.
  • Develop a skills inventory so you can match up the skills you already have and highlight skills you need to ‘rope in’, develop and/or pay for. Determine the costs involved.
  • Ensure proper and transparent process is followed in the appointments of volunteer and paid staff.

 

3 - Develop capacities of stakeholders

Although implementing and managing your MSP is hard work, developing the capability in the region to ensure that you all make the distance is an exciting and critical element. Assisting people to develop their capabilities gives something back to those who have contributed and helps balance the ledger.

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  • Teams need all types of people. Take time to value the differences and acknowledge the contributions to be made.
  • Develop a skills inventory — what is required to get the job done, and what are the skills of the people involved? - and determine where these are complementary.
  • Determine the training or learning trajectory and development required.
  • The rotation of board/committee members is healthy and enables individuals to develop their capabilities in a supportive environment.
  • Sharing the work, often with a guide or mentor, is a practical and powerful way to foster development.
  • Investigate the various training and development programs (e.g. local government/landcare facilitation/development commission) — make contact with these to see how you can participate or whether they can prepare and deliver a program for you.
  • Approach government programs and business sponsors for resources to develop and deliver programs.


Look at the skills / qualities of the stakeholders 

In determining your collective skills, tease out the skills individuals have. Don’t just go by their title or dominant occupation, look for and then utilise the capabilities of each person. For example, they might:

  • be a good time manager
  • be great at organising (e.g. many mothers have honed these skills!)
  • be relaxed talking to all sorts of people
  • listen well
  • summarise well, capture the key points
  • have a good economic brain
  • present information clearly
  • have leadership qualities
  • be good at facilitation
  • have strong analytical skills
  • be good at compiling and interpreting statistics
  • be able to delegate
  • have media skills or contacts
  • be good at linking people, networking
  • possess effective negotiation skills
  • excel at project management or community participation.


4 - Establish management structures and manage the implementation process

The appropriate structure for implementing your MSP may be different to the ‘interim structure’ (refer to ‘setting up’), which is geared for managing the development and planning phases. Again, take the time to investigate, canvass and introduce the appropriate structure. Key aspects include: relevance to the region (including the spoken and unspoken politics); the contribution it can make to good coordination; and its ability to encourage the development of relationships and partnerships with other organisations.

  • Remember that you spent some time assessing potential organisation structures in the ‘setting up’ component; reflect on those assessments now.
  • Clarify roles and ensure that there is a clear understanding by all members and the wider community/stakeholders.
  • Ensure the community is kept informed of how and why the structure was chosen and what to expect.
  • Ensure that all the responsibilities neither fall on just a few nor are actively acquired by just a few.
  • Ensure that the structure chosen supports people ‘doing’ the associated projects.

 

5 - Maintain stakeholder commitment

Ultimately, people and their commitment to the initiative and to all the decisions and actions that move it along are what make a successful MSP.

We are often hardest on ourselves. Burn-out is very high, because people have commitments other than the MSP. The key players in a MSP need to dedicate time to determining how to take care of themselves and their team.

  • Ensure that you don’t just ‘expect’.
  • Determine how people like to be rewarded/acknowledged and thus become more effective.
  • Give feedback and ask for feedback then make the necessary modifications - don’t ignore it.
  • Keep people informed as to how the decisions are being made and what progress is being made (e.g. open days, radio, media releases) — also continue to provide opportunities for their involvement.
  • Celebrate the achievements, small and big - gaining funding for a small project; getting people to the open day; significant contributions; a visit from a neighboring region or interstate tour; recruiting of new staff; the quarterly meeting. No-one has a monopoly on bright ideas. Develop a team feeling, encourage a camaraderie amongst members
  • Combine training and personal/professional development with acknowledgment and fun. For example: organise inter-regional and interstate tours, hold a training session with partners in one of the region’s holiday spots, or have a barbecue at the end of the meeting.
  • Ensure there is adequate support and acknowledgment for honorary contributors. Ensure that being part of the initiative has personal and professional development spin-offs. For example, share tools, tips and resources with participants that might assist them in their life outside the initiative.