Strategic Planning Toolkit: Step 3
Write the Plan
As cities progress through the Forum planning process, one of the most difficult challenges they face is writing the multi-year plan. Collaborative planning is by nature intensive and challenging, and the process must be conducted with deference to all stakeholder opinions.
To demarcate a reasonable time limit to planning discussions, Forum cities have used a six-month planning timeframe for creating their multi-year plans. Consensus among Forum sites is that this timeline was tight but reasonable and kept them on task.
Completing the Document
Forum cities have found it beneficial to designate one person responsible for recording information, taking notes, organizing materials, and managing the timeline throughout the planning process. Since the goal at this stage is to “plan your work and work your plan,” the process of writing the plan should be orderly and take into account all of the mobilization and assessment work already completed, moving forward from there.
While some cities may find it easier to hire a consultant to perform this task, the Forum strongly discourages this. For a multi-year plan to address the local needs of a given community and its own youth and gang violence problems, it must be written by individuals who are intimately knowledgeable about those problems and have key roles in carrying out the plan.
The Forum promotes the development and implementation of locally-tailored approaches that balance prevention, intervention, enforcement and reentry.
The ultimate goal of this planning phase is to use a data-informed, community profile to create an integrated, comprehensive, system-wide, multi-year plan for filling identified gaps in the continuum of services that address youth violence.
Additionally, this planning should focus on:
- developing objectives with outcomes that are measurable and criteria with which to assess implementation success;
- reviewing the effectiveness of current activities;
- selecting evidenced-based programs and strategies to fill in identified gaps in services;
- and creating action plans for multi-year plan implementation.
Two important notes: The plan itself does not have to be perfect, and it does not have to be lengthy. It will be routinely reconsidered and revised as implementation occurs, and as results from the implemented strategies begin to change the dynamics of youth and gang violence in the community.
It is possible to write a plan document in as few as 20 pages, as long as strategies are driven by local data and reflect input from multiple, diverse stakeholders; objectives are clearly stated and measurable; and accountability for accomplishing objectives and activities is affixed.