Developing Action Plans to Promote Successful Organizational Change

Action Plans are blueprints that break an organizational change initiative into discrete action steps based on specific goals and objectives.1 These plans allow Implementation Teams to turn their ideas for improving care for SGM patients into reality while increasing efficiency and accountability related to implementation. Action Plans should list what types of action steps, including adaptations, are needed to carry out the selected implementation strategies and the timeline for completion. An adaptation involves changing aspects of an innovation in ways that enhance the likelihood that it will be used or doing things to improve the innovation’s fit within the clinic and its community.2

The steps outlined in the Action Plan will scaffold the larger goal of each organizational change initiative to be implemented in the clinic. When brainstorming the action steps, think about all of the different implementation strategies that might be used to get a new policy, practice, or program in place. These are the activities that the Implementation Team will want to list on the Action Plan. It is critical to stay mindful of possible barriers to completing these steps and build in ideas for overcoming the obstacles into the final plan. An Action Plan needs to be complete, meaning that it lists all the action steps and supporting activities relevant to the specific organizational change initiative. It must be clear, so everyone involved is on the same page about what needs to be done and who will do what by when.1

The timelines associated with Action Plans will vary. Plans may be of short-term (3 months or less) to mid-term (6 months or less) to long-term (12 months or longer) duration, depending on the number and complexity of the tasks at hand. For example, starting the work of creating a welcoming environment in the waiting room by visibly posting SGM-friendly materials is likely to require fewer steps than adding fields into the EHR to collect SO/GI information. Working backward in time from the ultimate goal of the initiative (and its milestone date for completion) is often helpful in identifying the action steps needed to get there and gaps in planning that will need to be addressed. The Implementation Team should formulate a timeline for when each specific task needs to be completed. Some tasks may have discrete deadlines while others may be part of ongoing processes; plans should carefully delineate between these two. Action Plans should detail starting points for ongoing tasks and include multiple deadlines for monitoring progress rather than a single specified time for a task to be completed.