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6. Action Cycle - Overview

The Action Cycle links three key activities—Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation. Each of these activities builds upon the others in a continuous and interactive manner.

The Action Cycle may be the most satisfying and challenging phase of the MAPP process. During this phase, the efforts of the previous phases begin to produce results, as the local public health system develops and implements an action plan for addressing the strategic issues. Yet this is where it becomes increasingly important to sustain the process and continue implementation over time.

The Action Cycle can be summarized as follows:
Planning—determining what will be done, who will do it, and how it will be done.
Implementation—carrying out the activities identified in the planning stage.
Evaluation—determining what has been accomplished.

How to Conduct the Action Cycle

Planning for Action

Step 1. Organize for action
In this step, a subcommittee should be designated to oversee the implementation and evaluation activities. This subcommittee prepares for the subsequent steps and plans for how they will be implemented. If key participants—those who will play a role in implementing and evaluating strategies—are not currently involved in the MAPP process, they should be recruited to participate.

Step 2. Develop objectives and establish accountability
For successful implementation, it is important to know where you are headed, who is responsible for getting you there, and how you are going to get there. To accomplish this, MAPP participants develop measurable outcome objectives for the identified strategies. Participants then agree on accountability or responsibility for each objective.

Step 3. Develop action plans
The outcome objectives must now be translated into specific action plans to be carried out by accountable participants. Action planning will help to identify specific activities, time frames, and needed resources. Action plans may be organization-specific or may call for collective action from a number of organizations.

Step 4. Review action plans for opportunities for coordination
After individual and collective action plans have been developed, the MAPP Committee reviews them to identify common or duplicative activities and seeks ways to combine or coordinate the use of limited community resources. A quick review of the four MAPP Assessments may be useful for exploring assets, strengths, and opportunities.

Step 5. Implement and monitor action plans
Each MAPP participant should be involved in implementing at least one strategy. In addition, MAPP participants should regularly consider whether other organizations or individuals should be brought on board to implement strategies more effectively. Community awareness and participation ensures that action plans are appropriately and effectively implemented.

Step 6. Prepare for evaluation activities
When preparing for evaluation, participants should first consider what they are evaluating. An evaluation of the entire MAPP process and each strategy should be conducted. Next, participants should think about the stakeholders who should be involved. Stakeholders may include individuals whose professional work relates to the activity being implemented, or people who will be affected by its implementation.

Step 7. Focus the evaluation design
At this stage, the evaluation team should select: the questions that the evaluation will answer, the process for answering these questions, the methodology to be used in collecting answers, a plan for carrying out the evaluation activities, and a strategy for reporting the results of the evaluation.

Step 8. Gather credible evidence and justify conclusions
During this step, MAPP participants collect data to answer the evaluation questions. Once credible data are gathered, the evaluation team decides what the data indicate: Did the activity do what it set out to do? How effective was it? The evaluation team should also justify its conclusions.

Step 9. Share lessons learned and celebrate successes
Finally, results of the evaluation are used and shared with others. Evaluation results can improve existing processes and help create new strategies and activities. Evaluation results may also pinpoint successes and positive results. Participants should celebrate these successes. Continuous celebration and recognition of the hard work will go a long way toward sustaining momentum and keeping the process alive.

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