Issue Paper Outline
To bring an issue to the attention of the SRIC an issue paper must be developed. The preparation of an issue paper is vital to building the foundation for change, and a fundamental factor in mobilizing the community’s interest. However, it is also important to describe to the stakeholders the subsequent process that will occur to turn this effort into an action plan for change. The following documents are available to assist you in this process:
Issue Paper Brochure
RIC Change Agenda Model
- A clear definition of the issue: The community must be able to relate to the issue, and the definition should establish the parameters of the discussion.
- Define scope: What is the scope of the issue and who does it affect? Try to focus on community interest, who is the most affected by this issue, and lack of action (neighbourhood; segment of population).
- Why is this issue important: What social values are being ignored? What human and financial resources are being wasted? What is the long-term outcome if this issue is allowed to continue unresolved? The intent here is to provide the sense of urgency to address the issue.
- Who are the stakeholders: List people directly and indirectly affected, service providers, policy makers, and people who can serve as a catalyst to change.
- Identify and articulate current policy, research and strategic actions related to this issue.
- Identify what is happening now to assist on this issue. List the current services provided, and who provides them.
- Try to describe what is happening in other communities based on available research and collective knowledge of the group. Contact other communities of similar size and demographics to ask for a quick summary of the situation in their community.
Current Issues or Concerns:
Using available research and data, begin breaking down the issue into some key elements such as:
- Waste of resources;
- Lack of priority setting process; and
- Communication; etc.
Attempt to identify what is/are the root cause(s) for each of these elements. What are the driving forces that are causing this issue to occur and/or grow?
- What are the general benefits that society can expect to accrue directly or indirectly to the general public and/or target segment of the population, but are not occurring because of this issue?
- For example categories of social impact may include the following:
- Quality of life: Protection of persons and property, public health and welfare, recreation, culture and education, transportation
- Economic development: economic viability, managed growth
- Environmental management: protection and/or beautification of natural environment
Consensus for change:
With the issue paper in hand, undertake a stakeholder forum with the goal of establishing consensus on an action plan agenda for change. The result of this process is a statement of goals and objectives that will guide the action plan. However, an action plan agenda can only proceed if somebody steps up and takes ownership of the issue, and commits to a leadership role in the action plan agenda change process. If ownership and leadership do not materialize, then in theory the issue is not of sufficient priority to mobilize resources to affect change.
Leadership and ownership is not necessarily an all or nothing situation. When you have a fairly broad continuum of service defined, it may require two or more partners to collaborate in a comprehensive partnership.
Generate & Evaluate the Solution(s):
This step is an exciting one that frequently “energizes” partners. Using brainstorming techniques to develop the maximum number of possible solutions, the partners will discover a range of alternatives. At times, some of these alternatives may open up other ideas that can be saved for a later issue paper.
First, consider the positive and negative implications and consequences of each solution. This analysis may shorten the list of alternatives.
- What might be sources of assistance and/or resistance?
- What are some possible obstacles, objections, or concerns?
- How might implementation problems be avoided?
- What if problems arise anyway?
- What is most likely to help implement the plan?
Second, elaborate carefully the responsibilities associated with each alternative solution on the list:
- What specific actions are necessary?
- What sequence of steps should be planned?
- Who will help?
- What sources and resources are needed?
- How do we start?
- What timing and location factors must be considered?
- What are the most important steps to prevent problems?
- How will we monitor and document progress?
While developing your issue paper you may wish to modify solutions or suggest other alternative solutions as the discussion proceeds. Your working committee may find it helpful to categorize the solutions and their alternatives according to priority. Finally, the result of this step is a decision based on the solution your committee has chosen to pursue.
The end result of this process is to prepare an Action Plan Agenda document that describes:
- What will be accomplished.
- Who are the beneficiaries and target population(s),
- When is the change to occur.
- Where will the change efforts be targeted.
- How will we achieve change (broad level concept).
- How to measure results from change efforts.