In year 2, the Community Mental Health Action Plan Steering Committee and three leadership teams experienced great successes. As well, we identified several key learnings we need to keep in mind as we move forward into Year 3. As it turns out, much of what we learned applies to many groups working to implement large systemic social change.
Plan and refine priorities
We need more advance planning and engagement for Leadership Teams, to engage them about where the Action Plan fits into their work and priorities, and to build trusting relationships.
Refining priorities accelerates the pace of our work and guides decisions about how best to engage specific stakeholders. Leadership Teams continue to become more focused, refine and intensify their work, and move forward more quickly in specific priority areas.
We must balance validating people’s past work while looking to a positive future and learn from the past. There is a balance between innovating to do things differently while applying past learnings to the present context. It is important to reframe barriers as opportunities and to recognize people’s in-kind contributions to keep them engaged.
We must leverage successes. We consider the future implications of achieving milestones, as well as demonstrating our short-term tangible successes. Our Action Plan successes open doors to additional opportunities to collaborate with others and further leverage our work.
Build and nurture support and leadership
Backbone support is becoming ever more essential. Dedicated support allows stakeholders to contribute to and invest in the work of the Action Plan. The Project Lead, Project Manager, and Evaluation and Research Consultant provide backbone support, as well as the Steering Committee Co-Chairs from United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and City of Edmonton.
Strong, committed leadership is essential to help us stay on track and guide our direction forward. We have the right people at the table who have demonstrated readiness to fully participate. The engagement skills of Leadership Team Co-Chairs are essential for strong and consistent stakeholder engagement, and we continue to appreciate the role of the Change Agent in provoking different ways of thinking.
Work in the present while keeping the future in mind
We work to stay focused on present realities and future opportunities. We are becoming more intentional about purpose and planning, in the context of what is realistic for this initiative to accomplish, while remaining alert to opportunities to leverage action.