Topic 3: Key Functions

Formula for Success

Implementation Teams become fluent in using Active Implementation Frameworks.  They engage in stage-based work to help identify and build upon current system strengths, help manage expectations, highlight systems change success, and focus on creating communication pathways among and across stakeholders.  These key functions are reviewed in the next section.

Function 1: Ensure Implementation

Implementation of EBPs/EIIs is a non-linear process with many challenges and setbacks.  In education, Building, District, and Regional Implementation Teams will have the task of taking many districts and schools through the process so student outcomes can be improved purposefully.  With the help of an Implementation Team, teachers and staff, district administrators, and regional entities will have support to reach Full Implementation more quickly and successfully.  Even so, the process takes time and success is not guaranteed.  

While there are unique roles and functions for Implementation Teams, there also are common functions that apply to any team in any stage.  These functions include:

  1. Assessing and creating ongoing “buy-in” and readiness
  2. Installing and sustaining Implementation Drivers
  3. Monitoring implementation fidelity of the EBP/EII and related outcomes
  4. Action Planning: Aligning system functions and managing stage-based work
  5. Solving problems and building sustainability

Let’s have a little closer look at each of these stage-based activities.

1. Assessing and creating ongoing “buy-in” and readiness

Readiness for change seems to be an essential condition for successful change in a timely manner (Hall & Hord, 2011; Romney et al., in press; Telfer, 2011).  Common questions asked by stakeholders are:

  • What will be different this time?
  • Is this just another ‘fad’ that will pass?  Why should I invest my time or energy?
  • What was wrong with the way we have been doing things?  Does this mean I have been performing poorly?
  • How can I get more information? How can I participate?

Implementation Teams provide information about the reasons for change; the innovation; and, the implementation supports and commitment of leaders to make changes in the system that will facilitate the effective use of innovations in classrooms, buildings and districts.  Implementation Team work supports the “buy-in” process and creates readiness.


Creating Readiness in Education

There are increasing demands on educators. Waiting for readiness to occur simultaneously among teachers, schools, and districts may take a long time and leave the education system churning around a mediocre mean.  An alternative is to support Implementation Teams so they can help create readiness.  The figure below shows that an important function of Implementation Teams is to work with various individuals and groups to help them think about the need for change, get ready for change, and to actively participate in the change process.  80% of the work of an Implementation Team is creating readiness.

Figure 3.2 Implementation Teams and Readiness




2. Installing and sustaining Implementation Drivers

Each Team, at each level of the system, needs to be purposeful in deciding its role and responsibility in installing, sustaining and improving Implementation Drivers.  Implementation Drivers are the key components of capacity, and the functional infrastructure supports, that enable a program to be implemented as intended.  Supporting the use of innovations with fidelity increases the likelihood of creating positive student outcomes. Each Implementation Team has a role to play in ensuring Implementation Drivers are of high quality, funded, sustainable, and improved over time. And collectively the Implementation Teams need to ensure that all the Implementation Drivers are put to good use to support teachers and staff so that students benefit.

Learn More: Module 2: Implementation Drivers

3. Monitoring implementation fidelity of the EBP/EII and related outcomes

Fidelity assessments provide valuable information the Team can use for action planning and decision making. 

  • Fidelity and outcome data systems help determine whether the EBP/EII is being used as intended in interactions with students (e.g. formative), and if the use of the innovation is producing positive results for all students in a classroom, school, or district (e.g., summative)
  • Data about fidelity and outcomes give an Implementation Team the detailed information needed to develop action plans.  If the results are not as positive as expected, the team can determine if results are due to selecting an inappropriate or ineffective innovation (high fidelity/poor outcomes), or are due to a lack of fidelity in its implementation (low fidelity/poor outcomes).  If the results meet current expectations (high fidelity/good outcomes), action plans can be developed to improve effectiveness and efficiency.  Very different action plans will be developed depending on the results of this analysis.

4. Action Planning: Aligning systems and managing stage-based work

Implementation Teams do the purposeful work of action planning around the implementation process. Teams hold regular meetings to action plan to:

  • Guide and direct activities based on data collection regarding readiness for each stage of work
  • Ensure implementation supports are in place to ensure fidelity of the selected innovations
  • Ensure that system functions are aligned to support the new practice and they are diligent in referring issues of “misalignment” to relevant teams or individuals for resolution

5. Solving problems and building sustainability

Teams hold regular meetings to examine outcome and fidelity data, to action plan and to build and maintain the infrastructure to support the delivery of effective innovations.

They establish feedback loops between and among the various levels of teams to:

  • Share information about the facilitators to successful implementation
  • Identify and remove barriers to successful implementation
  • Routinely communicate directly with policy makers and administrators who can address roadblocks and develop systemic solutions to systems problems

Learn More: Handout 08: Communication Protocols Worksheet 

Function 2: Engage the Community

A critical role and function of any Implementation Team is to engage its community.  Involving stakeholders in a meaningful way creates opportunities to share information, address concerns, “mine” the expertise they bring, and build support for decisions.

In Education, depending on the EBI/EII, “Community” may include genuine parent/family partnership that is representative of all students, union representation, as well as school improvement and community partners such as mental health, early childhood services, etc.

Genuine outreach and transparent communication support Implementation Teams in making sound decisions and monitoring the impact of their decisions.  Decisions that can benefit from broader community input can range from:

  • Deciding on which innovations to support based on need,
  • Evaluating the evidence  related to the effectiveness of the innovation, and
  • Assessing the quality of the data being collected (how reliable and valid are the data).

Function 3: Create Hospitable Environments

Formula For Success

An “enabling context” is part of implementation’s “formula of success”.  Implementation Teams actively create hospitable environments to ensure that an enabling context exists to support new ways of work. Any given Implementation Team has areas that are under their control; areas that they can improve to create a more hospitable environment (e.g. scheduling, resources, curriculum choices, professional development resource allocation).  Other areas are beyond their sphere of influence. Still, they need to be addressed.  This means the Implementation Team needs to systematically and transparently communicate with other teams who can positively influence the policy, regulatory, and funding environments at their level. 

How do Implementation Teams create a hospitable environment? Not only does the team collectively have the knowledge, skills and abilities — they have the authority and time to address barriers and to identify and refer issues they cannot resolve to teams who can. 

Learn More: Creating Hospitable Environments

 Video Vignette: What Research Says About Readiness

An interview with Melissa Van Dyke about creating readiness for change.


Activity 3.2
Engaging Community and Building Hospitable Environments

Reflect on your current organization.  How does your team engage the community?  How would you describe your system, organization or team environment?  Use one of two planning tools to assess your environment, and then consider plans for potential improvement.

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