31: Strategizing

A first step towards creating an Action Plan is to bundle together the separate actions that you have developed into a set of innovative strategies for change. This requires that actions are sequenced appropriately and coordinated across scales so that they support each other. This work card describes how you can turn separate actions into strategies for change.

In a meeting/workshop setting with the coalition, develop a strategic approach to sequencing and bundling actions into strategies for change. Remind the group about the high-level goal (work card 26). Record insights and assumptions about why different strategies (bundles of actions) are likely or unlikely to succeed. 

Suggested approach: meeting or workshop

Time required: 2hrs

Facilitation skill level: High

Resources: Synthesized outputs from Work cards 26-30

Bundling your actions together

By now you have a list of separate actions that will contribute towards adaptive or transformative system change. Before these actions can be implemented and tested in reality they should be bundled together into coherent strategies. How actions should be bundled will depend on a range of factors and therefore will vary depending on the context. Strategies could for example be formulated along program lines, or funding priorities, but they may also relate to geographic areas, to the scale of operations, or to the type of leverage point that you are targeting.

Before your actions for change can be implemented and tested in reality they should be bundled together into coherent strategies. Photo: iStock.

It is up to you to decide the best way to bundle your actions into strategies for change, but issues important to consider when strategizing include how to create the most powerful combination of the minimum actions, and how different actions should be sequenced in time and coordinated across scales. For example, for a new fishery practice to become adopted you might need to build awareness around the negative effects of the old practice, and to change current incentive structures before it makes sense to promote the new and more innovative practice. Use the attached discussion guide to help you formulate appropriate strategies for change. Revisit the high-level goal articulated in work card 26 to make sure your strategies align with that.

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32: Packaging and communicating the Action Plan

When you have your strategies for change in order they should be packaged into an Action Plan, which in turn should be widely communicated to all stakeholders involved in or implicated by the Wayfinder process. This work card lists a few important questions to think through in order to produce the best Action Plan you possibly can.

Using desktop work and meetings with the coalition, develop an action plan that communicates the agreed upon high-level goal of the Wayfinder process, and the innovative strategies that will allow you to move towards your goal. Develop relevant communication products (documents, brochures, signs, posters, rich pictures, video) to support communication of the Action Plan. 

Suggested approach: Desktop, meetings

Time required: 6-8hrs

Facilitation skill level: Medium to High

Resources: Communication resources

From strategies for change to a concrete plan

Towards the end of phase 4 it is important to summarize the results of your Wayfinder journey thus far into a concrete Action Plan that can be tested in reality. This plan should include a clear statement of the high-level goal for the Wayfinder process that you have agreed on and detail the strategies for change that you have designed to move towards this goal.

When you have your strategies in order they should be packaged into an Action Plan. At this point, communicating well is important, since implementation of this plan requires active involvement of a broad range of stakeholders in the system. Photo: iStock.

The Action Plan should be widely communicated so that all stakeholders involved in the Wayfinder process, and also people not directly involved but who would be affected by the actions, are aware of what is being planned. Communicating well is essential at this point in the process, since implementation of this plan requires the active involvement of a broad range of stakeholders in the system.

How best to package and communicate the plan to the relevant stakeholders will of course depend on a range of factors. Important issues to consider include what the best format for the plan will be, how to get widespread support for it, and how to make sure it is updated over time as new knowledge emerges.

The attached discussion guide points to some important questions for the Coalition to reflect on when creating your Action Plan. Box 32.1 contains some criteria which allow you to stress test your Action Plan, make sure that it will be able to deal both with shocks and emerging opportunities.

Box 32.1 Stress testing the Action Plan

Dealing with a major shock

  • What will you do if you experience a major shock to the system such as a drought, flood or political change or conflict?
  • Are there parts of the Action Plan that you could or could not implement if that was the case? How would that impact the process?
  • Could you still achieve the intended outcomes if parts of the Action Plan could not be implemented?
  • What types of shocks would be more or less disruptive?
  • Would the different types of shocks create opportunities for change? How?

Dealing with an opportunity

  • If a major opportunity should arise, such as increased funding or political support, could you implement your Action Plan quickly? How would you scale out, and how would you embed your strategies for change in the wider system?
  • What would be required for you to take advantage of such an opportunity?
  • Which elements of the Action Plan do you believe have the most likelihood of success? Why? Can you replicate or scale the success factors?

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33: Reflecting on the new change narrative

Before moving into implementation, where the character of the Wayfinder process will change considerably, you should take a moment to reflect on the new change narrative that has emerged. This work card helps you think through if you are ready for the implementation phase.

In one-on-one discussions, small gatherings and meetings with the coalition and with key stakeholder representatives, reflect on how your collective understanding of the social-ecological system and its future has changed, using the new Change Narrative as the focus for reflection. Record insights that may be relevant for the implementation phase. 

Suggested approach: opportunistic one-on-one discussions, small gatherings and meetings

Time required: 0.5-1hr

Facilitation skill level: Low

Resources: Change Narrative, recording materials

Making sure that you are ready for implementation

By articulating a clear goal for the Wayfinder process, developing actions that target leverage points for systemic change while considering agency and opportunity, filtering your actions for feasibility and effectiveness, considering the unintended consequences they may have, and finally bundling the actions into strategies for change and packaging these into an Action Plan, you have, in fact, created a new Change Narrative. In contrast to the change narrative created in Phase 2, the one you have now should be concrete and plausible enough to be tested in reality.

Cambodian children on a bike. Before moving into implementation, you should reflect on the new Change Narrative that has emerged. Will it produce the desired change? Have you engaged in a serious way with unintended consequences and uncertainty? Photo: iStock.

As you move into phase 5 the Wayfinder process will change character completely. Instead of focusing on system assessment and strategic planning, it will now focus on implementation of the strategies that you have designed, and testing of your hypotheses about how the system works, and learning about how you potentially can influence its development.

Before you take this important step, spend a moment to reflect on your new Change Narrative. In what way is it different from the narratives you produced early on in the Wayfinder process, to what extent will it foster stewardship and reciprocity, and have you engaged in a serious way with uncertainty? Articulate why you now are ready to leave the planning stage. The attached discussion guide will assist your reflection.

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