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5. Goals/Strategies - Overview

During this phase, participants formulate goals and specific strategies for each of the strategic issues identified in the previous phase. Goals and strategies provide a connection between the current reality (what the local public health system and the community look like now) and the vision (what the local public health system and community will look like in the future). Together, the goals and strategies provide a comprehensive picture of how local public health system partners will achieve a healthy community.

In developing goals and strategies, communities answer the following questions:
Goals - What do we want to achieve by addressing this strategic issue?
Strategies - How do we want to achieve it? What action is needed?

How to Formulate Goals and Strategies

Step 1: Develop goals related to the vision and strategic issues.
Participants begin by revisiting both the vision and the strategic issues. By identifying how the strategic issues link to the vision, participants develop goals that will be achieved when the issues are resolved. Whereas the vision presents what the community wants to ultimately achieve in an idealistic manner (e.g., "healthy children"), goals capture these results in more concrete terms (e.g., "Age-appropriate vaccinations for all children"). This activity is best accomplished by a small group that later presents its results to the MAPP Committee for discussion.

Step 2: Generate strategy alternatives.
During this step, participants identify potential strategies for achieving goals and attaining the community vision. Several strategies should be identified for each strategic issue that reflect the range of choices from which the community may select to reach its vision. Strategy alternatives should build on strengths and opportunities, and counter the threats reflected in the strategic issues. Small-group brainstorming discussions are a good way to conduct this step.

Step 3: Consider barriers to implementation.
Next, the small groups continue brainstorming discussions to identify barriers to implementation. Barriers may take the form of insufficient resources, lack of community support, legal or policy impediments to authority, technological difficulties, and so on. Barriers will not necessarily eliminate strategy alternatives, but the groups should alert the community to obstacles that may be encountered if that alternative is pursued.

Step 4: Consider implementation details.
Here, the small groups flesh out details related to implementing each strategy alternative. Participants should explore issues such as needed activities, timelines, participation, and resources. Thinking about implementation details at this stage helps to identify and refine the best strategies and lays the groundwork for the next phase—the Action Cycle.

Step 5: Select and adopt strategies.
At this point, the best strategy alternatives should become clearer. Participants should examine the alternatives to understand their relationships to one another. Understanding the relationships among strategies offers a comprehensive picture of the larger strategy that the community will implement to achieve the vision. Next, participants test the strategy alternatives against agreed-upon selection criteria. Once the strategies are selected, they should be adopted.

Step 6: Draft the planning report.
A written planning report serves as a reference; tests consensus about agreements; and communicates the vision, goals, and strategies to partners and the broader community. Once the document is complete, it should be adopted by the MAPP Committee. This step marks the completion of the planning process and a time to celebrate the hard work. The plan should also be disseminated and shared throughout the community.

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