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navigate in the page--Schedules

Build your schedule around elements of success .

A schedule* establishes the timeline of tasks and responsibility. It demonstrates the interrelationship among tasks and identifies resources needed to produce analyses , documents , and decisions .

A reasonable, well-thought out schedule will not only let everyone see and understand the decision process but will also help to shape the analyses and actions. Consider and display the interrelationships (e.g., the economic analysis relies on the cost estimates, the cost estimates rely on detailed alternatives, alternatives rely on the needs assessment...)


navigate in the page--Planning the Schedule

Establishing and attempting to meet deadlines without considering the "meat of the matter" (building partnerships , establishing trust and credibility , and working to solve problems) risks creating roadblocks and delays

Missing that first deadline is like the first stratch in a new car--no one worries as much after that.

Plan your schedule carefully and make sure it is realistic so that participants and the core team can stay on track toward a solution. Build in some contingency plans (e.g., if we can't get x by September, we will do y). Check back regularly . Computers are very useful to plan a schedule and keep track of where you are.

Staying on schedule:

  • Shows progress (if milestones have substance)
  • Demonstrates the agency's dedication to the process
  • Demonstrates accomplishments to participants
  • Builds momentum and morale
  • Keeps activities predictable
  • Facilitates participation
  • Simplifies budgeting
  • Eliminates an easy target for o pposition ("Study Delayed Again!")

People tend to work on things with the closest deadline. Events without a specific date (e.g., as soon as possible) will get done after everything with an assigned completion date. Thus, setting a tight schedule avoids procrastination and helps actually get things done. However, an impossible or a too tight schedule may invite risks of incomplete work or delays. Publics like to pounce on delays.

Keep in mind, though, that the schedule is a tool--not an absolute dictator in the decision process. A realistic schedule will be flexible enough to accommodate various stages of public awareness and involvement, diverse points of view, changes in study scope, alternatives, etc. Make sure that the schedule can handle delays, re-analyses, or other surprises along the way. (Build this into your Action Plan )


navigate in the page--Adapting the Schedule

"Science is only orderly after the fact; in process, it is chaotic and fiercely controversial"

Ruckleshouse, Risk, Science, and Democracy

Caution: Participants' agendas and awareness are probably not going to coincide with yours.

Keepthe schedule flexible, with built-in points for change so you can adapt to the realities of the planning process. A flexible schedule:

  • Helps coordinate the many participants and their interdependent activities
  • Ensures that the process is coordinated with external events
  • Defines participants' commitments and "due diligence" in completing tasks
  • Clarifies where additional resources may be necessary
  • Helps formulate budgets and evaluate the cost of delays
  • Provides a communication tool for team leaders and the general public
  • Can be used to establish commitment from decisionmakers and participants

Artificial or unrealistic deadlines may indicate that schedulers are out of touch with reality or are rushing through the process to get to a predetermined action.

Sticking to a schedule no matter what will probably lose more than it will gain. Most importantly, you risk losing the opportunity to address rifts and conflicts between parties as early as possible. If these are left to fester, they can cause problems later. Your solution may not get the support it needs to be implemented and maintained.

A rigid schedule:

  • Speeds up analyses which may cause inaccuracies or invite challenges
  • Skips analyses which may need to be done later or which may have revealed other opportunities or fatal flaws
  • Rushes the process onto the next step when participants may not be ready
  • Creates an impression of arbitrary decisions which often destroys credibility or drops vital parties from the process


navigate in the page--Go On

Succcess: :)

Go slow to go fast. Often, adding more time to the schedule to do it right saves time in the long run.

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tourBudget Guide <------> Milestones


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Note: These files were developed and were originally hosted at the Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of the Interior.
I am hosting this as an archive. Contact Deena Larsen (deenalarsen AT for further information.