Module 1 provided an overview of the foundational knowledge needed to begin the public health planning process. The remaining Planning Fundamentals modules provide detailed information about the planning process, in the same step-by-step order that you will follow to create and implement your state plan.
Module 2 focuses on coordinating the planning process, including working with partners, pre-planning, and launching the process of creating a state plan. This is similar to identifying what resources you have, and what tools you need, to begin planting your garden. Careful planning at this point will set the stage for success.
An Introduction to Public Health Planning
Learning the basics of gardening
Working Collaboratively with Partners, Pre-Planning and Launching the Planning Process with an Initial Meeting
Identifying what resources you have and what tools you need
Upon completion of this module, you should be able to:
It should take approximately 75 minutes to complete this module.
Your state plan reflects all of the proposed work to be done to prevent and reduce the burden of diabetes or chronic disease in your state. The plan reflects both the work of the state health department and the work of its partners. This plan should be developed through a collaborative planning process.
Before launching the state planning process, it is important to consider the benefits of working in a coalition, your role in convening key partners, and effective strategies for working with those partners to create and implement a state plan.
Since the late 1990s, the majority of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for chronic disease prevention and control and risk factor reduction programs released by the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion have included two requirements:
State coalitions are expected to work with state department of health
staff to develop and implement a state plan.
The types of state coalitions and partner groups will vary by state. In the example of creating a diabetes state plan, some of these groups might include:
Throughout the Planning Fundamentals course, the term “coalition” will be used to describe all of the different arrangements that you may have with partners.
No matter how your coalition is constituted and organized, coalition members should be invited to participate in the state planning process. Their participation should have been explained as one of the functions of their membership in the coalition.
Working with coalition members to develop and implement the state plan has many benefits. Working in a coalition:
State health department staff often act as conveners for the planning process and are primarily responsible for maintaining the relationships that underpin the process. Key responsibilities of the state health department staff include:
Staff ensure that the planning process is conducted using strategies that reinforce positive relationships between and among the state health department and other coalition members. These relationships should be based on principles of reciprocity, in which the state health department staff and coalition members both derive benefits from the relationship.
Managing the planning process with a state-level coalition requires:
The following are four strategies that coalition members can employ when working together. Each of these strategies falls on a continuum and builds upon the other:
Hover your mouse over each strategy for a definition.
These strategies are described in detail in the Matrix of Coalition Strategies. Each of these strategies can be appropriate for different circumstances. As the coalition convener, state health department staff can work with coalition members to decide what strategies are most appropriate for the state planning process.
All of the strategies are more effective in producing results when the following core elements are present:
Section I provided an overview of the state health department’s role in managing the coalition, the benefits of working in a coalition, and strategies for working with partners to create and implement a state plan.
Now, think about how these concepts apply to your coalition. Watch the video below to be introduced to members of the Kentucky Diabetes Network (KDN), Kentucky’s statewide diabetes coalition. Then, answer the questions that follow. Click here for a worksheet to record your answers.
The next section discusses how to ensure that the right organizations are involved in the planning process and how to recruit key partners.
Before launching the state planning process, state health department staff should work to ensure that all key stakeholders are represented. In addition to inviting current coalition members to participate in the process, staff should reach out to inactive members of the existing coalition, as well as to other stakeholders who have an interest in addressing the burden of diabetes or chronic disease in the state.
There are several types of partners that should be involved in the planning process, as outlined in the Key Partners Diagram below. In this diagram, the state health department is shown playing the role of coordinator/convener, but there should also be lines connecting the partners together so that the diagram looks more like a web.
Hover over each of the Key Partners in the diagram for more information
Click here for more information on each type of partner
Before beginning the state planning process, you can work with existing coalition members to compare the list of active coalition members to the key partners groups discussed previously, in order to determine which types of agencies or organizations are missing from the coalition. While it may be easy to identify partners in the categories of Health Care Providers, Health Care Organizations, and Advocacy Organizations, you should also broaden your scope to include other public and private agencies at the state and community levels. Also, the individual representatives of the categories should be diverse in terms of age, gender, and socioeconomic status.
After conducting this assessment, the membership of your existing coalition, especially the Steering or Executive Committee, can help determine which additional organizations need to be invited, and whether they should be asked to participate only in the planning process or be encouraged to join the coalition.
Some partners recruited to participate in the planning process may end up joining the coalition as regular members, while others may not wish to join the coalition on a long-term basis. The members of your existing coalition plus these additional key partners will form the group that will develop the state plan. Throughout the Planning Fundamentals course, the term “coalition members” may be used to describe both regular coalition members as well as these additional partners.
An effective way to gain knowledge and understanding about your coalition’s membership is to ask each member to complete an assessment survey when they join the coalition and to re-take it every year. Annual assessments conducted prior to beginning the planning process can combine several different types of questions to give you a larger overview of your coalition. Questions can be included that gather information on members’:
Results of your coalition membership assessment should be routinely shared with coalition members, as should information about any gaps in representation.
When recruiting partners for the state planning process, you will be targeting organizations, agencies, and associations, instead of specific individuals. A useful process is to:
It is very important that all expectations are clearly communicated to the coalition membership, the organizations’ representatives, and to the leadership of the organizations and agencies that they represent.
When recruiting agencies, you can focus on the state-level organization that represents the interests of local level institutions. However, you may want to include representatives from local community health coalitions and planning groups, particularly:
In including these representatives, you are ensuring that their perspective on the burden of chronic disease is represented and that the interests of their communities are protected.
Section II described key partners that you need to work with to create and implement your state plan. It also discussed how to identify gaps in your current coalition’s membership and how to recruit from organizations or agencies to fill those gaps. Once all of the necessary stakeholders have been identified and recruited, the planning process can begin.
Now, think about how these concepts apply to your coalition. Watch the video below, in which members of the Kentucky Diabetes Network (KDN) and Kentucky state health department staff talk about involving the right partners in the planning process. Then, answer the questions that follow. Click here for a worksheet to record your answers.
The next section discusses how to put systems and structures in place for the planning process that will help pave the path to success.
The first step to developing a state plan is pre-planning. The state health department can convene at least one meeting of the existing coalition, and additional meetings with the coalition Steering Committee, to outline, plan, and discuss in detail the collaborative planning process that will be used to develop and implement the state plan. These meetings should include discussion and review of:
The planning process should be structured in a way that will enable success and will build ownership of the state plan among all participants. This includes putting systems into place that allow for:
There are several ways to ensure that these systems are in place through the organization of a planning group, the clear delineation of roles and responsibilities, and the use of effective collaborative planning methods.
You and your coalition partners can develop a charter that will create a framework for effective collaboration. The charter will guide the planning process by laying out the guidelines and expectations for participation, defining norms and operating protocols, and presenting options for addressing challenges. This planning charter should be a separate document from the charter for your state coalition and should reflect input from all organizations, agencies, and individuals who have agreed to participate during the planning process. Click here for a list of items to include in this charter. Many of these items will be described in detail throughout this section of the module.
In some cases, a member may request a formal interagency agreement delineating responsibilities, such as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), Letter of Support (LOS), or Letter of Agreement (LOA). Click here to read about the elements of an interagency agreement.
The state health department begins the state planning process by creating a collaborative planning group comprised of members of the existing state coalition plus any additional key stakeholders not currently involved in the coalition.
The principles and methods used to organize the collaborative planning group are similar to those used to organize and coordinate the state coalition as described in the previous section.
The term planning group will be used throughout this course to describe partners who are actively engaged in the planning process.
If your state has a formally-organized state coalition, you and your key stakeholders should decide whether members of that steering committee will play a leadership role in your planning group, or if you wish to create a new steering committee specifically for planning purposes.
The leadership of the coalition, especially the Steering or Executive Committee, can help determine who should be asked to participate in the group.
The organizational structure of the planning group will influence how well it works in achieving its goals. It is important to remember that organizational structure needs to be both functional and simple. The basic organization of a planning group consists of the group at large, or the entire membership, and its division into smaller workgroups.
The diagram below shows a simple approach to organizing the planning process that can be modified as decisions are made during the process:
It is critical to the functioning of your planning group that each member’s roles and responsibilities are appropriate and clear from the beginning. There are some general responsibilities that should be undertaken by each member:
It is important that all coalition members involved in the planning process understand and accept these responsibilities. Having them in writing, perhaps through the use of charters and interagency agreements, can be helpful.
It is important that all coalition members involved in the planning process understand their responsibilities, and it is critical that the roles of the state health department staff are clear as well.
The staff should provide technical assistance and support throughout the planning process. Their roles include:
More specifically, they will be representing the state health department and its initiatives, and the department’s epidemiologist, evaluator, and other program staff will serve as informational resources during different phases of the planning process and as members of workgroups. While the state health department should be well-represented throughout the planning process, it is important to not dominate the process or attempt to take on all responsibilities. Using facilitators during the planning process can help avoid this issue.
Trained facilitators can be found through academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and professional development organizations such as the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). It is highly recommended that you work with an external facilitator not professionally affiliated with any of the partners participating in the planning process.
Using an experienced facilitator can help reduce expectations among the participants that the state health department is the lead organization to do all of the work. The facilitator can assist in a variety of tasks, like planning meetings, developing agendas, facilitating meetings, and providing summary reports on meetings and planning products.
To be most effective, the facilitator should:
Facilitators with experience in working with community organizations and coalitions are good candidates to work with state planning groups.
Having a simple and effective organizational structure and clear membership roles and responsibilities are crucial to collaborative planning. In addition, the planning group can agree to utilize the following collaborative planning methods to support the process:
While these participatory, collaborative processes can take more time than other ways of proceeding, they can result in greater commitment and buy-in from participants when creating and implementing the state plan.
Consensus is a commitment to a decision based on the collective wisdom of all participants. Consensus building can be used to address procedural questions as well as substantive issues. Consensus building means making decisions by the united consent of all participants. Consensus does not imply unanimity of opinion or complete agreement, but it does involve seeking decisions with which everyone is reasonably comfortable and can support.
Consensus building depends on active listening to all as well as a commitment by everyone to be an active participant in the discussion. The general steps to consensus building are:
Consensus is reached when all coalition members believe that they have arrived at the best decision that can be made at this time.
It is possible for a coalition member to disagree with a particular decision but agree to support it. This happens when agreement is made based on the best interest of the coalition. A decision may not be a member’s first choice, but they can live with it, especially if the concerns they have raised have been adequately addressed.
Conflicts often arise when managing complex and important projects in which different interests are invested. Conflict occurs when the exploration of different perspectives on an issue leads to a disagreement and the parties involved perceive a threat to their needs, interests, or concerns. Conflict often results in a breakdown in communication and halts consensus building, so it is important to be prepared to address conflict during the planning process.
Conflict resolution involves the development of procedures for identifying the conflicts that are likely to arise, as well as systems through which conflicts can be constructively managed and transformed into productive learning experiences for all partners. Conflict resolution requires creative problem-solving strategies that overlap with those used to reach consensus when conflict is not present.
Click here for a list of key consensus building and conflict resolution processes, including processes to guide individual participation, procedures to guide meetings, and ideas to address substantive issues.
In some situations, concern about maintaining group cohesion, avoiding conflict, and reaching a consensus quickly can become more important to participants than reaching the right decision, resulting in groupthink. Click the link to the left for strategies that are designed to reduce the risk of groupthink.
Group Decision-Making Processes are employed when the group needs to make a decision. There are a variety of group decision-making techniques that can be employed, and you can use one technique or a combination of them during the collaborative planning process. Click here for a list of decision-making processes.
These essential collaborative processes reflect inclusivity and mutual respect, and depend upon active participation by all group members. Several factors contribute to these processes and are key to creating a truly collaborative environment:
A well-thought-out internal communications plan will support the flow of information between the external facilitator and the state health department, between the state health department staff and the members of the planning group, and between planning group members when they divide into workgroups.
Key elements of your internal communications plan include:
You and your partners may decide to create a members-only access web-page, a WIKI or listserve, or other electronic methods to maintain notices and records. This information should also be included in your internal communications plan.
During the planning process, planning group members will be asked to attend meetings of the whole, large group, as well as small, workgroup meetings that focus on completing workgroup assignments. Progress on these assignments will be reported on at subsequent large group meetings.
Information about all meetings, workgroup assignments, and the status of the work being accomplished will be routed through the state health department staff. Agendas and minutes for large group meetings are the responsibility of the external facilitator, with input from the staff.
In subsequent Planning Fundamentals modules, you will be able to download suggested agendas for meetings that will take place during different steps of the planning process.
Agendas and minutes for small workgroup meetings are the responsibility of the members of the workgroups and also should be shared with the state health department staff.
In-person participation at all meetings should be strongly encouraged, but electronic meeting formats such as webinars, conference calls, or Skype technology can be used to allow individuals who cannot attend in person to participate.
During pre-planning, all arrangements for logistics for the planning process should be finalized. In general, this would include:
Having the logistics planned out in advance will make the subsequent steps in the planning process go more smoothly. Click here to download a more detailed list of logistics to consider, based on the example of creating a diabetes state plan.
The preceding section covered initial steps in the planning process.
Now, think about how these concepts apply to your state planning process. Watch the video below, in which Kentucky Diabetes Network (KDN) members and state health department staff from Florida and Kentucky talk about their approach to organizing the planning process. Then, answer the questions that follow. Click here for a worksheet to record your answers.
Taking each of the pre-planning steps that were covered in this section will prepare the coalition for launching the planning process.
Next, an initial meeting of the planning group should be held to officially launch the planning process. The main goal is to introduce members to the planning process and to:
It is also important to introduce members to each other and use icebreakers or semi-structured activities to give members the opportunity to learn about one another.
In addition, this meeting can be used to collect baseline data from participants regarding their expectations for the planning process and their role. Before adjourning, participants can sign an agreement indicating they understand and agree to the terms of participation, including expectations regarding time commitment, work assignments, and the collaborative nature proposed.
Module 2 discussed coordinating the planning process with your partners in order to create and implement your state plan. This module described:
In addition, ways to support the planning process were described, including:
Finally, Module 2 covered the first steps in the planning process: pre-planning and launching the process with an initial meeting of the planning group. Module 3 will focus on the next step in the planning process: examining relevant data and defining the problem in your state.
You can download a PDF of helpful resources for more information.
Continue the course with Module 3: Using Data in Health Planning.