With each CHHP participant you may have another new and good idea. You must keep your group focused on one idea or issue. A well-managed CHHP involves tracking the groups’ energy, reinforcing close approximations, using positive feedback, coaching and counseling during and between the CHHP sessions, and a commitment to provide on-going communication and focus.
Track the Groups’ Energy:
• Expectations should be achievable. This means the community organizer must have a some knowledge of what the community is capable of achieving in a set amount of time. Are their grants available for a desired campaign? Is there a competing high profile activity that will compete with your idea? Is there a logical community champion available to “lead” the activity?
• The idea must be relevant. Is there a timeliness to the idea that lends itself well to getting the idea accomplished? For example, the local high school principal just had an unforeseen heart attack – or – a group of high school children were in a car accident where alcohol was involved – or – data was just released mentioning your town or county having a high incidence of teen pregnancy, etc.
• The consideration might be previously identified by another organization (city council, health department, chamber of commerce, etc) as being on their priority list. This can give your planning a head start.
• The idea must have a beginning and an ending. Most people want to know what they are signing up for. Many people will sign up for a project with clarity. Remember that you are designing a campaign that will have legs and be lasting in the community by its design.
Reinforce Close Approximations:
• Remember that the organizer must take principal responsibility for shepherding the idea. “Babysitting” and “incubating” ideas is part of the job. Perhaps you can combine or further enhance a thought to make it fit more than one priority. Remember to emphasize that the CHPP process will allow for one idea to be done first and then another. Because the community will be tuned in and turned on, soon, every concern will have a place.
• See how ideas can be achieved in the day to day activities of the interested parties. Things that are easily done get done.
• Steer the group toward a project that is easily achievable (first project) and whose results can be measured. You will be more likely to attract grant money, get press coverage, generate interest and keep the community motivated, if you can tell how you found something and then tell them how you left it after the intervention. Formally, known as evaluation.
• Try to avoid distractions. As important as it is to be timely with what is happening in the community, once a course has been set, do what you can to make the agreed upon idea “appealing” to those involved. This can be done with your own enthusiasm, press coverage, asking people for their advice, putting people in leadership roles at the onset, and keeping meetings and gatherings short and on task.
Use Positive Feedback:
• What resources are available to you? Phone, e-mail, cards, prompt delivery of meeting minutes, updates in the press, word of mouth, etc. Be sure to utilize all of these to keep your core organization well informed and distraction free. Make what you are doing important and others will also see it that way.
• Positive feedback requires time and attention. Budget your time to include a full 20% of your time on the project to make personal contact with your core people between meetings. If they do not attend a meeting you will need to follow-up. People do what is important. Your job is to keep CHPP important.
• Positive feedback is important and critical. If your people are not happy, you will not be happy. The time you spend getting to know your participants, what they envision as important in the vision, and helping them understand their role in the process will
make all the difference.
Coach and Counsel:
• Conditions change. Be aware that personal and business priorities continually shift. Stay flexible and remember to let your key individuals know that even a bit of time devoted to the CHPP process is appreciated and needed.
• Become a vehicle for networking. Once you know your community you will be able to offer suggestions for the folks that have concerns that are getting in the way of their participation in CHPP. When people realize there are options to solving their dilemmas and the CHPP group members are supportive of them, CHPP becomes the place to go, not simply one more thing to do.
Ongoing Communication and Focus:
• Observe and provide feedback. This is especially important as the steering committee recruits the bigger group for CHPP. Keep a close eye on the follow-up contacts that people agreed to do and fill the gaps where necessary. You do not want the steering committee to see their failure to reach or invite someone to the CHHP as a problem. People will not come to meetings unless they feel they have something positive to report. Help them have something positive to report.
• Provide the steering committee and CHHP with a written action plan. Hand write and distribute chore lists to people before they leave the meeting, if possible.
• Do not be afraid to set goals and timelines. Ideas that are important have deadlines and due dates. There are also measurable goals and objectives to measure progress. It will give the group small accomplishments to celebrate along the way.