Because every community is different the process of enacting your plan will also be different. How you go about ‘doing the work’ will depend on what you are trying to achieve. In general, we have found it is important to maintain momentum, document and share the work regularly, and reflect and celebrate along the way.

Case study

Enacting the plan - a diagram of three circles overlapping. In the center of the overlap - project management. The other circles: maintain momentum, document and share work regularly, reflect and celebrate along the way.

Once a place-based plan of action plan is in position, implementation may include:

identification of available resources – both within the community and outside; sourcing additional resources including funding; establishment and resourcing of local project teams thinking about data and story you can collect to measure performance and impact.

It is important to remember that people have different ways of planning and may have varying levels of skills. There are many different project management tools you may like to draw on. One method is called agile project management which recognises that change is not linear but emergent. Some of the key principles and processes of agile project management align well with place-based approaches; relationships-based, responsive to change, working solutions, reflecting and adjusting.

One of the most significant challenges is what happens after we have created a plan? What are the ways that people will remain motivated and energised to work on implementing their community actions? How will people remain accountable to each other? How do we ensure an ongoing commitment to engaging deeply with the community?

We’ve found that having regular catch-ups and having structures for ongoing support are important here. For instance, our leadership development training involved a group undergoing a two-day leadership program where they identified a community project they wanted to work on. Participants were then linked to a mentor and a regular community of practice for group accountability and support.

Regular leadership group meetings and opportunities to connect with mentors and backbone motivators can help drive the project. Establishing smaller working groups with lines of accountability and support can steer various parts of the work. Where activities are floundering, it is important to reflect as a group on what the barriers are and to think of ways to resource and support the work. Often the barriers include:

  • lack of time and energy from participants to drive the plan;
  • lack of buy-in or support from key formal leaders to support reform or dedicate resources;
  • needing time to build broad engagement across stakeholders and the community;
  • lack of resources dedicated specifically to support networking and collaboration; and
  • lack of long-term funding for services and systems to support or justify improvements in practice

We believe in ‘going with the energy’, as espoused by participatory leadership where people give their time and resources to the things that are important to them. It may be that commitment to achieving the vision is waning, or that people are losing a sense of confidence in their ability to make a difference. Having a facilitator or backbone role who can spend time being a ‘roaming motivator’ can be helpful to maintain momentum.


Making Meetings Work – Collective Impact Forum

Key learning

Cast the net wide

While there are times that a place-based approach might focus on a particular topic or issue, when a place-based approach is funded through a sector-strategy, it can be difficult to keep a broad range of professional and community representatives engaged.

There is a need to continually work to engage people who currently use or have used services in the past. This transfers and shares power with people affected by social challenges, builds the capacity of everyone involved, and helps deliver effective solutions to locally identified problems.

While this is challenging at the best of times, it is especially challenging when funding to support place-based approaches is funded around a pre-determined topic.

As the focus of Strengthening our place funding was the strengthening of the child and family support sector, it was difficult to engage people from outside of this sector. Some workers explained that they couldn’t justify spending time in their paid roles to be a part of something that did not directly link to their current work focus – even though they understood the long-term outcomes would be positive for them, their role, and their community.

As you are implementing your plan, you will want to share your experiences and successes. It is also helpful to create opportunities for others to hear about the work you provide. You will also need to document the work as you go to track progress, share learnings and evaluate the outcomes of your initiative.

Documenting the work is important because it:

  • often initiates reflection on the work
  • records learnings for you and for others
  • is an opportunity to provide the community evidence of their work and progress towards an agreed goal
  • makes it easier to bring more people to the table if it is something that can be sent out, seen in local business or services, or used as a talking point at meetings
  • builds some evidence for evaluating the outcomes of the work.

Ways that we, and others, have documented the work include:

  • Case Studies
    Writing case studies or following stories and sharing with others is a good way to drill deeper into the work, and document it in a way that is useful for others to learn from. Make what you did, how you did it and what you learnt clear
  • Infographics
    Infographic type documents are a great way to share information in a way that is easy to digest. It requires few words and utilises graphics to get the message across. (LINK – Summary of work for SoP Infographic)
  • Harvest documentation

You can harvest information that is shared at a meeting or forum, and then share it back with those who attended and the broader community to record the event, process the information and share it widely. Harvesting can take many forms:

  • Graphic harvests – A graphic harvest is a “live” documenting of a meeting or forum using pictures and images. It is usually done by someone with some skills around documenting in this way, but it can be learned and is a useful skill to have. Like infographics, graphic harvests are an engaging way to get your message across without having to read through lots of text. They represent a summary of the key ideas and concepts of the meeting, forum, or even an initiative or project as a whole
  • Harvest sheets – Creating and retaining working paper from meetings, for example group notes and individual reflections. These can then be summarised and analysed after the event to reflect on the process and the learnings, and reflected back to attendees and the broader community
  • Photos – Taking photographs of the proceedings and notes that are taken can be a great way to share what happened
  • Interviews and attendee profiles – Conducting interviews with people who attended and reporting back on who they are and what they experienced
  • Website – Some place-based approaches have the resources to create and maintain a website. Websites are a great way to communicate up-to-date information with stakeholders, providing the internet is accessible and reliable in the community.

Consider who in community have skills and interests that align with documenting the work. For some people, documentation, particularly creative methods of documentation, will be something they have a lot of energy for.


Film clip

Video on the Art of Harvesting

The Art of Harvesting from Ravi Tangri on Vimeo.

Sharing the work is important because it:

  • values the people who are working on the ground
  • helps maintain and build momentum
  • keeps the community and broader stakeholders informed, even when they can’t be actively involved

We develop communication plans to consider who we want to reach and decide on the different ‘channels’ we use to share our work.

Some methods we have used to integrate our learnings into the next steps of a place-based approach have been:

  • Documenting learnings along the way in a central point, and then reviewing these learnings at meetings and during co-design phases so that they aren’t forgotten (it is a bitter pill to swallow when you have to learn something twice!)
  • Using an external facilitator to ask tough questions (specifically used when reviewing how a partnership is going)
  • Dedicating parts of meetings to reflect on the work. There is more about this in Review and renew.
  • Creating opportunities to celebrate key milestones and share our initiative with the broader community.

Film clip

Strengthening our place Vignette – #6 – What are your key insights?”