Key Action III.2

Step back and adjust the plan

What is the goal?

The goal of this key action is to examine progress to goals, identify key successes, and learn from and solve for significant challenges. After analyzing the data and considering key drivers, the team will adjust the plan for the next chapter of work.

Why this key action is important

While the team meets consistently during the year to monitor progress and keep the work moving forward, a formal stepback at a larger interval of time allows for deeper reflections and gives the team an opportunity to get out of the day-to-day challenges and take stock of overall progress to your goals. This is the time to look at the whole picture and decide what to do. Listening and adjusting builds investment and confidence, and it allows everyone involved to be more efficient in spending energy in ways that support progress.

Explanation of language

We use the word stepback as a noun to refer to the actual meeting that takes place with the Implementation Support Team and step back as a verb describing the collective act of gaining perspective on the whole story. We use the term quarterly to refer to the practice of doing these stepbacks each quarter, although we have seen some early implementers benefit from more frequency in the first three months. Data refers to quantifiable data (i.e. student scores or survey results) as well as qualitative data (i.e. observation notes).


guiding questions

notes & resources

  • 1.
    What are the goals for the meeting?
  • 2.
    What data do we need to gather to report on our progress to goal?
  • 3.
    Is there additional stakeholder feedback we need to gather?
  • 4.
    What is our agenda? Who will facilitate which portions?
  • 5.
    What meeting norms do we need in place to create a productive, supportive, and solutions-oriented discussion?
  • 6.
    What pre-work, if any, will there be for the meeting?
  • 7.
    How will we communicate the agenda, goals, and pre-work?
  • 1.
    Where are we on pace to meet our goals?
  • 2.
    What are the drivers of success?
  • 3.
    How can we best celebrate these successes?
  • 4.
    Where are we off track to meet our goals?
  • 5.
    What is holding us back from meeting those goals?
  • 6.
    What are the 2-3 areas we want to improve in next quarter?
  • Reference your agenda, sample norms, and templates for organizing data for the conversation that you laid out in Step III.2.A: Prepare data for the stepback.
  • If the results are clear about some areas for improvement, add additional guiding questions in advance to focus on the root cause and potential solutions for those areas.
  • While it’s tempting to try to solve everything at once, it can be helpful to focus on 2-3 improvements and keep the rest on a running list for potential changes to revisit.
  • In Key Action III.3, you will adjust your plan and determine what you are going to do in more precision.
  • 7.
    For each of the 2-3 priorities, what is the root of the problem?
  • 8.
    What needs to change?
  • 9.
    What are we going to do about it?
  • 10.
    At our next stepback meeting, how will we know that these adjustments worked?
  • 11.
    What do we need to observe and what additional data do we need to collect next quarter to know if it is working?
  • This step asks you to go back into your Implementation Plan to adjust the plan, as opposed to throwing the old plan out and starting from scratch.
  • The resource Examples of Mid-Year Adjustments is a set of examples of the kinds of adjustments that have been made mid-year towards different goal areas.
  • Leverage your bright spots and share learnings in your game plan.
  • 1.
    In this key action, we adjusted our plan. What are the next steps that we need to take based on the decisions we made together?
  • 2.
    What needs to happen? Who will do it? By when?
  • Go back to your Implementation Plan to track your next steps and add to your roles and responsibilities tracker.
  • 3.
    What will each identified stakeholder group want to know about the adjustments to the plan?
  • 4.
    How do we plan to proactively communicate this information? Who will deliver the communication? When?
  • 5.
    What questions do we expect we will get? How will we answer them?
  • Quarterly communications can be a great opportunity to celebrate the hard work of implementation and fuel the fire to keep continuously improving.
  • Listening and adjusting the plan builds confidence and trust, especially when every member of the team is on the same page and can describe the rationale in a way that is connected with the vision and core beliefs.
  • The Email Communicating Adjustments After a Stepback resource is a sample email from a system based on the adjustments they made.

Mini Workbook for This Key Action

Download Workbook III.2