Group Action Planning

As the pace of change speeds up, how can we plan and implement rapid change in organizations, sectors and communities?



The old change paradigm is dead. It consisted of: a central agency setting up a committee of organizational figure-heads; getting them to sit around and talk about an issue and producing a glossy report. The report is implemented over years and much of it is irrelevant because: 'things have changed since it was written'.

Duignan’s Group Action Planning (GAP) brings together a group of people from different organizations or sites where change is needed. They then network as a collective group to bring about the required change fast.




The advantages of Group Action Planning are:


  • It uses the energy of committed enthusiasts who just want to get things done and builds off peer-to-peer interaction.
  • Independent facilitation shifts the change dynamic. It's much better than a situation where a central agency is trying to get individual organizations or site to change through unilateral relationships with each of them.
  • It focuses on immediate action in multiple organizations and sites and then adjusts strategy rather than undertaking endless planning.
  • It's agile in the face of a rapidly changing general operational environment and a changing environment facing each organization or site.
  • It reduces paper-work, because it uses what people report back in meetings to monitor progress.
  • It encourages evidence-based practice through expert input and peer cross-organization and cross-site critique.
  • It means best-practice is shared amongst people working in different organizations and at different sites. 
  • It allows system-wide problems to be quickly identified by the group and collective representations made to external stakeholders to get them to fixed quickly.





Group Action Planning tightly embeds planning within action. It's agile planning that gets people to roll up their sleeves and 'just do it'.  

Here's how it's run:


Bring them together for an initial meeting. Tell them that they're going to be meeting every three (or six months) either virtually or physically until the issue is fixed (i.e. over several years).

Identify a small group of key dynamic people working at different sites or in different organizations. Don't just bring in figure-head organizational leaders. The criteria is that group members should be motivated and impatient for change.

Have the meetings independently facilitated by a Group Action Planning facilitator - someone how knows how to run the process. This changes the dynamic from a central agency 'telling' people what to do to a group working collectively to solve an issue.


Throughout the process, provide expert input about the best way of addressing the issue(s). This input might provide evidence to inform evidence-based practice; information on statutory requirements the group needs to take into account; or it might be best practice suggestions.

At the first Group Action Meeting, identify the outcomes the group's trying to achieve and the steps required to achieve these. Prioritize where the group and each member will focus in the period until the next meeting by assigning group members to work on specific issues either in their own organization or site, or in conjunction with other group members on issues that require the group to work together.

At each meeting, provide time for group members to share the best-practice approaches they're using in their organizations or at their sites.

Encourage them to set up working groups to address issues that need collaborative work.

Identify any system-level issues they're facing in their organizations or at their sites that need to be addressed collectively.

Make representations from the Group Action Planning group to external stakeholders who can improve these system-level issues.


Start each Group Action Planning meeting by members reporting back on the progress they've made in their organization or at their site.

Keep a record of these reports as documentation of the progress that's being made as part of documenting, monitoring, evaluating and improving the Group Action Planning work.

Get Group Action Planning group member to work out how they're going to monitor and evaluate their progress.

Work out how to monitor and evaluate overall progress on the issue.

Encourage electronic networking between meetings so that Group Action Planning members can share best-practice; keep motivation and morale up; and identify any issues that need to be addressed by the next stage of action.

© Parker Duignan 2013-2017. Parker Duignan is a trading name of The Ideas Web Ltd.