The simplest form of ToP Action Planning (which we in Canada call Task Force Action Planning) has 9 steps, laid out as a workbook on 3 pages. This image has all 9 steps on one page to introduce the process.  You can download the whole workbook at the end of the article.

Process Overview:
The first page guides the group from the abstraction of their vision of where they want to get to, through an analysis of the current situation, to a well-founded commitment for the time period they are planning for.  On the second page the group brainstorms and organizes the actions needed to accomplish that commitment, and creates a motivating image to sustain the action campaign.  On the third page the actions are arranged on a simple timeline identifying the launch activity, what the commitment looks like at the end, and the actions in between that get there. People write their names to commit to the actions and estimate the costs of the action campaign.  The workbook guides the group steadily along the road to the final result.  It is possible to do this in an hour or less, if the group is small and the topic is not too large.
Using the Action Planning process:
The ToP action planning process is most helpful when the group who will be carrying out the tasks is the group who is planning the actions.  In this way the group brings on-the-ground wisdom about what can be done, and owns their plan, and it is more likely to happen.
This form of action planning works well for quick planning by a small task force or project team of no more than 10 people.  It is great for informal groups, and even for individuals or families.
We have also adapted this process for larger groups for implementing strategies from a strategic plan, for project planning, for operational planning, and even for creating an accountability framework.  Ask us about these more complicated applications!
If more than one group is planning simultaneously for the same time period, they can each put the results from page three in rows on the wall, and adjust them for the dependencies between them.
It is helpful to follow up at the end of the timeline, when people have planned to finish the action plan to review, celebrate, and replan.
Here is the workbook:
Task Force Action Planning

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