Why do Plans of Work?
Certainly not to check a box, but to continue our collective efforts to set priorities, plan our programs and work, document impactful programming, and adaptively learn about our organization. We know from research and experience that planning is an important predictor of “doing” – in this case conducting excellent educational programming that leads to impactful outcomes.
Plans of work will ensure that the important contributions of Cooperative Extension staff and faculty can be communicated to funding partners (e.g. AEDs communicating with county boards). They will also contribute greatly to Institute leaders and members understanding of the work being done in each program area and better support individual and collective work. Plans of work will also support colleague reflection on the prior year’s work and planning for the upcoming year as a part of the annual performance review process.
Our intention is for the planning process to strengthen our work and for colleagues to feel supported in the process. This year we are taking a first step and the process and template will evolve over time; we are not striving for perfection.
Each programming area has coaches that have volunteered to assist, as needed, with the plan of work process. We are asking you to write a Plan of Work that covers 1-2 priorities, email it to your program area/institute-designated coach and your supervisor, and take their feedback into consideration while working on an updated version due April 30.
February-March: Draft plan of work, consult with those supporting your work (e.g., coach & supervisor)
March 31: Send to coach & supervisor
April 30: Plan adapted based on coach & supervisor input
Throughout year: revisit and adapt plan as needed – living document
Flexibilities & Clarifications:
- If you have already made significant progress on a Plan of Work for this year using a different template, please update to address the guiding questions at the beginning of the attached version; you do not need to follow this format exactly.
- We are asking for a one year plan of work to begin. There will be some situations where it makes more sense to write a two-year plan right away. It is up to you and your coach/supervisor to scope out the time frame for the plan.
- The intent behind the guidance on length of plans (on page 1 of the template) is to prevent plans from getting so long that it becomes burdensome for colleagues to write them and for coaches and supervisors to read them. It is not a strict rule. Length will vary based on whether you write up one or two priorities.
- The FoodWIse team has already implemented plans of work and new colleagues hired since 1/1/18 will be supported to complete plans of work within the first six months of hire.
- Integrated cooperative extension staff that are employees of one of our partner campuses also have their own planning processes within their home departments. We are working with those campus partners to create a more streamlined system for communication in the near future.
- Operations and colleagues in support/service roles can use this process to be proactive in designing and implementing high quality, essential support services. Please talk to your supervisor to determine how the plan of work process may or may not relate to your position.
- You will receive more information regarding colleagues who have agreed to support you in writing your plan from your current unit or program area in the next week or so.
- We have also initiated conversations with Academic Department Chairs about the faculty role in work planning and will continue that conversation. Faculty are, of course, a critical part of our programming and scholarship.
Agriculture Institute: Jerry Clark, Trisha Wagner, Bill Halfman, Mike Maddox, Ken Schroeder
Natural Resources Institute: Chad Cook
Community Development Institute: Gary Kirking, Will Andresen
Health & Well-Being/Human Development & Relationships Instititutes: Lori Zierl, Mary Huser, Kadi Row, Ruth Schriefer
Positive Youth Development Institute: John Demontmollin, Kandi O’Neil, Pam Hobson, Frank Ginther, Chris Viau
Operations: coaches have not been identified; please consult with a supervisor and/or another colleague who is familiar with your area of work and can provide useful perspective/feedback.
- Demographic Data Resources from Applied Population Lab including GetFacts – the APL’s interactive data portal featuring mostly infographics https://getfacts.wisc.edu/
- National Extension Web-mapping tool – guided data discovery to highlight datasets relevant to you
- More on Outcomes & Program Logic – sections 2-3, see this for help writing outcomes
- Verbs that can describe learning outcomes (Bloom’s Taxonomy)
To consider while developing programs:
- Incorporating Theory into Extension Program Design – pages 1-11 are most relevant, from University of Maryland Extension
- Community Toolbox from University of Kansas – includes tips and tools around community assessment, planning, intervention, etc. Under continuous improvement since ’94 and available in English, Spanish, and Arabic.
- Special journal issue on the Extension Program Development Model – for those interested in delving into more reading
Fitting it all together:
Current Plans of Work:
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Why are we doing individual plans of work this year, before institutes are up and running?
A: We need to start somewhere, and in the meantime colleagues are still planning and implementing educational programming (and programming support). Having 1-2 programs planned, in writing, will help Institutes and Areas as we continue building and communicating with funding partners.
Q: How do we approach writing plans without having a statewide needs assessment or situational analysis done?
A: We are at very early stages in planning a broader statewide situational analysis that will be done this year, with data collection beginning in May or June. Educators should still plan to collect their own contextual information that can be used to drive the specifics of their programming, as the statewide assessment won’t be able to get into every detail. These processes will “meet in the middle” in the future. If you believe that a more detailed needs assessment should be conducted, related to your work, than what you have time to complete by April, you can include the need for additional assessments as part your proposed outputs and activities in the Plan of Work.
Q: Who are my coaches if I am in an Operations office?
A: Individual coaches have not been identified for Operations offices. For feedback, please seek out a colleague who is familiar with your area of work and can provide feedback on your work plan. You are welcome to send your plan to them in addition to consulting with your supervisor.
Q: How should people with Interim appointments approach their Plan of Work?
A: Interim Extension Educators are encouraged to plan through the end of their appointments.
Q: What is the role of coaches?
A: Coaches collaborate with colleagues to guide work planning. Part of this collaboration involves promoting communication and sharing of ideas across educators. Coaches provide a sounding board and support mechanism for colleagues and also communicate to program leadership trends in programming and what is needed to accomplish the program’s goals.
Q: Do I submit my plan anywhere other than emailing it to my coach and supervisor?
A: If you adapt your plan based on coach and/or supervisor input in April, please email the new version of your plan to both parties by the end of April. You will likely be asked to copy/paste certain sections into the Recording Results system – more information will be about this will be communicated in April.
Q: What if I don’t have time to write a good situation statement?
A: Write the work that you would like to do, to improve your situation statement, into your planned activities/outputs for 2018. It’s okay if your situation statement this year is not meeting your standard.