Action Steps

The blog this week was written by Deborah Warfield, Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.” Vaclav Havel

Last week Allison Hammond of The Arcadia Institute did a very thorough job of explaining the overall MAPS/PATH process. She ended with the statement “As the meeting culminates in the Action Agreements, everyone becomes inspired that the person will reach the dream AND that the people in the community circle will truly be important allies to make that happen.” This week, I will place a magnifying glass over the value of using action steps within that action agreement.

The co-defined action steps of the MAPS/PATHS are extremely crucial. Without action steps, we merely have a bunch of great new information, mixed with some really awesome ideas. The facilitator introduces the Action Agreements to invite community circle members to “enroll” deeper into the process by connecting willing members to specific next/action steps. These action steps bubbled up from the identified dream, worries, gifts and places in the community where those gifts may become most useful.

Action steps (that are written out within the map on the day of the Futures Planning meeting) identify the following:

1. What steps will be taken? 2. Who will take those steps? 3. When will those steps be taken?

This part of the MAPS process helps to move community members from just talking about a broader, more meaningful life, on to doing something specific. Action steps are also measurable and help to move the community circle beyond the MAP. These bite-size steps (within the action agreement) also immediately validate the community support that is not only “in the room” with our participants, but keeps everyone “on the same page”.

How can we know if the action steps are being executed or not? Well, this is where the Follow Along meeting comes in to play. Periodic Follow Along meetings are scheduled. The action steps become the agenda items to be reported upon during these Follow Along meetings. Some action steps may need to be revised at times, once the research and findings from the action steps are reviewed. It’s not unusual to identify a whole new set of action steps based upon the findings at those Follow Along meetings.

It’s important to note that every participant varies in terms of how often Follow Along meetings occur and are based upon the individual and the updates that come as a direct result of particular action steps. A Follow Along meeting can take the form of a needed “emergency session ” in effort to put a life “fire” out, or it can be planned to coincide with an anticipated result of a particular action step.

These tools (action steps and follow along meetings) used by the community circle members, along with the Community Brokers become sustainable vehicles that move the impacts and outcomes well beyond the original MAPS. Here are a few examples of how action steps (defined in the MAPS process) played themselves out the life of the participant.

One action step identified was to become a functional reader. With the help of assessments and tutoring, our participant now sends cards to his distant family with messages and begins to more adequately navigate his social media networking through smartphone texting.

Another action step defined was to gain hands on experience to match skills learned in a classroom. A connection was made with a business for an entry-level job with a company that has welders. Although it wasn't a welding job, the opportunity emancipated our participant into an atmosphere that increased their income, self-esteem and expanded their social skills.

Action steps accountably engage participants, Community Brokers, community circle members, community individuals and organizations and often new found resources, in ways that empower participants to be able to own the crafting of their shinier, newer more meaningful lives along with their self-identified community one action steps at a time.