Practice Makes Perfect

Blog · Jan 21, 2021

The first documented use of the term “Dry Run” appeared in a Salem Daily News article in 1896. Dry runs, pilots, and dress rehearsals are still widely accepted today as a way to practice and prepare for important events. A practice run allows us to catch issues that could not have been predicted and, to the best extent possible, maximize the results.

While there may not be a true state of perfection when implementing an effective prevention education strategy, good planning, observation, and adjustments to your policies and procedures work to maximize process outcomes and, ultimately, student outcomes. Because student outcomes are directly tied to fidelity of implementation, it is essential to build a system of preparation and quality assurance at the core of your implementation. The Too Good Implementation Center illustrates the five phases of implementation including Program Exploration, Installation, Initial Implementation, Full Implementation, and Sustainability. 

Any underlying problems which may not have been foreseen in the installation phase will reveal themselves

The Initial Implementation Phase of program implementation is a critical step in the process. It is at this point when your teams’ planning and organization efforts are put to the test for the first time. Any underlying problems which may not have been foreseen in the installation phase will reveal themselves as all members of your team, whether at the administrative level, delivery level, or the assessment level, are activated. In this third chapter of the Implementation Blog Series, we’ll look at the effects of running a pilot delivery of your prevention program implementation. 

The Initial Program Implementation Phase serves as your test run of the plans and procedures established by your Implementation Team during the Installation Phase.  During the pilot delivery, Implementation staff should monitor the pilot lesson delivery for gaps in instruction, program drift, and other unanticipated barriers to lesson delivery. The Implementation Team will collect and process outcomes data to test policies and procedures.  While it is not recommended that outcomes data from your pilot delivery be submitted to funders, practicing your data collection protocols will reveal potential inconsistencies or gaps in your procedures or systems.  Then you can make adjustments to procedures, enhance or revisit training protocols for instructors, and adjust scheduling or other environmental factors that could be impeding your fidelity of implementation. Following these corrections, it may be necessary to run a second pilot delivery to test your changes. When you are confident in the integrity of your implementation plan you will be ready for the next Full Implementation Phase. Just as costumes are worn in a production’s dress rehearsal, all components of a high-fidelity implementation should be included in the pilot lesson delivery. 

Over the course of your first lesson deliveries, the team will uncover obstacles specific to your location, population, and program. By planning for a pilot delivery of your program, you will be poised for a high fidelity of implementation in the Full Implementation Phase. In the next chapter of our five-part series, we’ll examine the goals of the Full Implementation Phase to inform the planning and execution of your outcomes-driven prevention education strategy.

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