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Prioritize the issues

You can do this informally by using your criteria as a general guide and voting on the top issues or follow a more formal process of rating each potential priority issue, such as the Hanlon Method or Prioritization Matrix. When decision criteria are subjective and it's critical that you gain consensus, you can use techniques like Nominal Group Technique and Multi-Voting to help a group agree on priorities. Be sure to allow enough time for full and open discussion after these voting procedures, so that the group doesn’t fall into Group Think, which occurs when the desire for group consensus overrides people's common sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion.

Don’t be afraid to take on complex social problems! Focusing on social and economic factors is a big undertaking, but in the long run, it’s these factors that will have the greatest long-term impact on a community, especially for vulnerable populations.

Quick tip:

  • Logical order — Present issues in the sequence in which they should be addressed. This is useful where the resolution of one issue is contingent on resolution of another.
  • Impact order — How strategic is an issue? How important are its consequences? How complex is an issue? Resolving easier issues first can build the momentum, teamwork, and consensus that can lead to solutions for more complex, controversial issues.
  • Temporal order — Resolve issues according to a timeline, using information such as coordination with upcoming events. For example, an issue that seems to require a policy strategy may be timed to coincide with the state legislative cycle.¹

1.    National Association of County & City Health Officials. Phase 4: Strategic Issues In-depth Guidance. In: Mobilizing Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) Framework. Washington, DC: National Association of County & City Health Officials.

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