Conducting a Time Sensitive Situation Analysis and Communicating Action Plans Effectively

The weight of making sound decisions rests heavily with school and district leaders. Under normal circumstances, planning can still be a challenge. However, when decision making is critical, the processes and tools need to be seamless. A situation analysis and action plan may help during critical times to make sound decisions, strategically plan and communicate decisions across the organization.

Why conduct a situation analysis?

District and school leaders often conduct a SWOT analysis during annual strategic updates and planning. This process assesses organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis is used as an analysis of an organization’s current state when reflection is important but not necessarily urgent.

A time sensitive situation analysis is a process used during critical times when key team members assess high priority or urgent situations where swift decisions need to be made. It is a problem-solving process linked to key tools used to assess and then communicate immediate actions.

Who is involved?

A time sensitive situation analysis is conducted by the education leaders or team members close enough to the situation to determine impact on the school or district. The team members in the process must hold the positional authority to prioritize and deploy the needed resources. Resources typically impact people’s time, money, technology, impact on facility use and any needed collaboration with other community or state agencies.

An immediate action plan is designed to prioritize imminent risks and the plan is adjusted as the team meets. These meetings may include daily huddles and weekly meetings with key leaders or teams. This planning process will allow the team to adapt to changing conditions.

Facilitating a situational analysis

A situational analysis can be facilitated both in-person and virtually. Use the guides below to successfully lead teams through a situational analysis during a time-sensitive situation.

In-Person Guide

Materials needed: Sticky notes, markers, flip chart paper or white wall

Step 1: Convene key leaders or team members.

Team Members



Step 2: Define realistic time frames.

Time Segment Definition Example
Now Within the next two weeks
Next 2-4 weeks out
Later Beyond that

Step 3: Individually assess and write down areas that need attention (one per sticky note).

Step 4: Create an affinity diagram by organizing the sticky notes by themes on the flip chart or white wall (example themes below).

Communication Structure Programming Basic Needs Finances Health of Critical Team Members
  • Internal team members
  • External organizations
  • Access
  • Alternatives by age level of students
  • Supplies
  • Food
  • Payroll
  • Healthcare
  • Unemployment supports
  • Backup plans
  • Shelter in place process
  • Key partners needed

Step 5: Assess and color code if the actions are in your control (green) or out of your control (red) as a team. Areas out of your control define issues to collaborate with other agencies.

Step 6: Prioritize actions based on the time frames established in step two (now, next and later).

Step 7: Begin action planning immediately and communicate actions to impacted teams.

Virtual Guide

Resources needed: Video chat platform (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Slack, Teams, FaceTime, etc.) and a document collaboration tool (Google Docs, Bit.ai, Dropbox Paper, Office365, OneNote, etc.)

Step 1: Convene key leaders or team members on video chat platform.

Team Members



Step 2: Define realistic time frames.

Time Segment Definition Example
Now Within the next two weeks
Next 2-4 weeks out
Later Beyond that

Step 3: In the online collaborative document, individually submit key areas that need attention.

Step 4: As a team, identify key themes and appoint a team member to organize on an affinity diagram in the collaborative document or in a follow-up email (example themes below).

Communication Structure Programming Basic Needs Finances Health of Critical Team Members
  • Internal team members
  • External organizations
  • Access
  • Alternatives by age level of students
  • Supplies
  • Food
  • Payroll
  • Healthcare
  • Unemployment supports
  • Backup plans
  • Shelter in place process
  • Key partners needed

Step 5: Assess and color code if the actions are in your control (green) or out of your control (red) as a team. Areas out of your control define issues to collaborate with other agencies.

Step 6: Prioritize actions based on the time frames established in step two (now, next and later).

Step 7: Begin action planning immediately and communicate actions to impacted teams.

Action Plan

Whether in-person or virtual, the final step in facilitating a situational analysis is action planning. Use the table below as a guide for action planning with key leaders or team members.

Recommendation: Paste the table below into a spreadsheet for best formatting (Excel, Google Sheets, Numbers, etc.).

Action Point Person Immediate Next Actions Resource(s) Needed Check-in Timeline Predicted Outcome Actual Outcome Learning on, Keep Doing, and Stop Doing Next Action Key Other Notes
Communication
Programming
Basic Needs
Safeguarding Health/Safety

Start with “why” and use key words to communicate actions

After the situational analysis and action plan is complete, the next step is to communicate actions across the team. How the message around the action and any changes that may come is framed is crucial. The most important part of communicating is choosing the right words that are thoughtful, specific and honest. Always start with “why” for any action being asked of others. During an urgent matter, direct orders and actions need to be given. Starting with the “why” will help employees understand the relevance of the action being asked of them to do. The words chosen should influence whether employees act on what is relayed in the message. If some team members aren’t on board with the changes or actions, it will ultimately impact progress and productivity overall. Choose key words to achieve the desired results. Doing this is more important than ever during a time sensitive, critical situation.

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Conducting a Time Sensitive Situation Analysis and Communicating Action Plans Effectively

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