Preliminary Phase: Forming the Change Coordination Team

Regardless of which comes first—formation of the change coordination team or identification of the change agent—even the most energetic, committed, and astute change agent and implementing team will benefit from ongoing support, encouragement and guidance. The change coordination team should have clear leadership capacity, as it will be responsible for identifying evidence-based practices and obtaining political support and resources from relevant stakeholders. If the change agent has already been identified, he or she will be a key member of the team.

A new team can be formed specifically to support a change initiative. Teams involving IBP members, for example, are well placed to help to move major reproductive health efforts forward in the participating countries and states. In other instances, an existing team can be mobilized on behalf of a change effort. A national reproductive health council or family planning working group, for example, might support the introduction of an evidence-based practice on improved forecasting and ordering of contraceptive methods. Naturally, the members of the change coordination team will vary with the setting and the na­ture of the proposed change. Team members might be appointed by the Minister of Health or other senior government officials and can include representatives of nongovernmental, donor and international organiza­tions.

Strong support is required from the change coordination team until the change is fully institutionalized at all levels. Therefore, team members should meet several important criteria.

  • Team members should represent a broad variety of stakeholders and have decision-making power and influence among those stakeholders. This will enable the team to advocate with institutions or individuals to provide the resources needed to carry out the change process.
  • Some team members should be well acquainted with the technical content pertaining to the change, and all should be motivated by the need to improve practice.
  • Team members should be prepared to contribute the time, thought and energy required to provide consistent support throughout the change process. If the team is to work together effectively in support of the desired change, there must be buy-in from all members, as well as a shared understanding of the goal, the task, the expected results and individual responsibilities. Members must agree on consistent messages to provide other audiences.

This is not always easy: members of different organizations or units of an organization might an­swer to different authorities, with different policies, priorities and approaches. There might be competition among the disparate organizations or units, and the organizational environment may reward competitive behavior.

Successful change coordination teams have overcome these obstacles by:

  • Selecting team members with a broad perspective, enabling them to rise above their loy­alty to their organization or unit.
  • Creating incentives for team members to neutralize their competitiveness and work to­gether towards a common purpose.
  • Having an authority clearly state the results the team is expected to achieve.