By Barry Sweeny, 2003
A major issue in any form of program development is whether it is best to plan and implement a full program at one time or is it better to phase-in components of the program over time. There are two aspects to consider within this issue.
1. Initially, it is best to DESIGN A FULL program which reflects as many of the characteristics of effective mentoring programs as possible.
In other words, whether a full program implementation is planned or not, a full program should be designed.
This approach ensures that initial research about effective programs and local needs is utilized in program design, which may not be the case when design on later implemented parts is some time in the future.
This approach also ensures that the desired program and all of itís interacting components are defined as a whole, and can eventually function effectively together.If decisions are made later on, probably by a planning or review group with different members than the original group, all the research and knowledge gained by the original group will not be available to inform the planning by the later group.
2. Once the full program model is defined, then the results of an assessment of the needs of employees, the needs of departments and the organization, and other related issues, can dictate what components of the program are most needed right away and when they should be implemented.
There are several reasons why this is best practice. For example, there is good reason behind deciding that more learning and experience with a specific program component is needed before it will be clear what to do in another area.
Be careful with following your instincts on this decision. We often want to get going and “stop the delay”. We are so aware of the needs of our target population and we want to get mentoring started in the worst way. It’s much better to follow best practice, to avoid unpredictable mistakes that might actually give you mentoring “in the worst way”. The goal is not to get mentoring in place. The goal is to get effective mentoring in place.
Typically, we tend to want to move ahead when we cannot yet know all we need to know to do something well. We think we can do it like, “Ready, aim, fire.”
As Michael Fullan, change guru says, it usually works more like, “Ready, FIRE, aim”. We typically need to PLAN BIG, but START SMALL to achieve the best results in the fastest way. It is ALWAYS better to do it right the first time.