Planning meetings can leave participants feeling wrung out, almost like they’ve experienced an intellectual spin cycle. If it is a good meeting, good and bad ideas are explored and a variety of perspectives are heard. If it is a great meeting, measurable and attainable objectives are created, along with an action plan focused on success.
But what is success? How is it measured? Who is responsible for what and by when? Not identifying one or more of these components can cause a host of inefficiencies, including redundancy and gaps in effort. This happens more than one might think, at least partially because most people are drawn to the field of coastal resource management from their love of science and the coast; project planning might not be high on the skill set list.
Fortunately, the NOAA Coastal Services Center offers a number of classes designed to expand management skills. Topics include project negotiations, meaningful evaluations, and public issues and conflict management.
One course, Project Design and Evaluation, shows participants how to set up their initiatives with success in mind. Setting a realistic goal is an important step; a good example is provided below:
Fifty percent of the coastal zone management programs will have three or more staff members using geographic information systems (GIS) by 2011.
This goal is well stated because the language is specific, measureable, and includes a deadline. Furthermore, the goal is realistic yet ambitious, and the audience is clearly identified.
In addition to instruction about goal setting, Project Design and Evaluation also covers logic models, project design and assessment, implementation, and evaluation. Participants benefit not only from the expertise of the instructors, but also the experience and time spent working through organizational or community issues with their peers.
Courses provided by the NOAA Coastal Services Center can be brought to your facility. When possible, the participants’ data and challenges are incorporated into the learning experience. To see a complete training roster and get details about hosting requirements, visit www.csc.noaa.gov/training.