Turning plans into action

Action expresses priorities.

—Mahatma Gandhi

Planning is hard but turning those plans into action is where the real work and results occur. This section looks at the changing face of project management and working in teams in an environment of collaboration and community leadership.

Team Roles

Traditionally, change in communities, regions and organisations has been led or driven from the top down by one leader, project manager or lead organisation. The evidence shows that this can be less than effective due to team members feeling that they aren’t listened to, and decisions being made one level up the bureaucratic chain. Top-down management can often result in reduced productivity with bottlenecks, and this can significantly slow a project’s completion.

In contrast, Community Led Impact Partnerships tap into the power and potential of bottom-up, collaborative, action. It makes sense then to use the best of a bottom-up approach, sharing the means of running a project with proactive team input. The planning process can be facilitated by a number of people. Leadership can be shared or rotated. The to-do lists of all the team members can be collected into the detailed general project plan. Schedules, budgets, and results can be made transparent. Technology can make this easier through sharing software and project management tools.

Of course, there are still roles in any Action Team which need to be taken: a meeting organiser, discussion leader, treasurer, note-taker / distributor, organiser and so on. The question needs to be answered: “How can the functions of a community-led Action Team be carried out effectively whilst embracing collaboration and new ways of working?”

Your New Team Member Survey that you filled out in the Getting Ready stage asked Action Team members to identify which team roles they felt most suited them. This was based on the Belbin Team Role Model. If you want or need to identify more specific roles for members in your team, read more using the link in Dive Deeper below.

Legal Structure

The formality or informality of the governance group is also worth thinking through. If the Action Team will seek funding from third parties, then some form of corporate body is useful such as an incorporated association, company limited by guarantee, proprietary limited company or partnership. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. A legal opinion is worthwhile to avoid legal and financial liability issues. Not-for-profit and even charitable status is also worth considering, as there are tax and deductible grant recipient status issues. Be aware your Backbone Organisation may have all the legal structure you need. See more in the Dive Deeper tab below.


  1. Discuss and agree what legal structure you want, how you want this Action Team to be led and roles allocated. Take into account your Values statement if you have prepared one. Also, remember the Backbone Organisation might be best placed to perform some roles.
  2. Write up the agreement and circulate to the Action Team members.