Topic 3: Establishing Implementation Teams

Establishing Implementation Teams and selecting members does not necessarily mean hiring new professionals or adding a “new” team. Instead, start by assessing existing teams and personnel. Can an existing team be “repurposed” or redesigned for this work? Might people be added to a current team as part of the repurposing? What other factors are there to consider? Let’s have a look. 

How large should the team be?

We recommend a minimum of 5 to 7 diverse individuals serve as core Implementation Team members. Other individuals can participate in Implementation Team activities as needed based on their expertise. However, these individuals may not require the same amount of time to participate in ongoing work (e.g., between meetings).   We recommend 5 to 7 members, so the Implementation Team is sustainable. As individuals leave, remaining team members can carry on while a new member is brought on and learns the complex sets of skills required of Implementation Team members. 

What selection criteria should guide the creation of an Implementation Team? 

The Implementation Team is comprised of diverse individuals who collectively have the expertise and a wide range of experiences and perspectives necessary to implement the evidence-based practice and develop and maintain the system and infrastructures to support effective and equitable implementation. One or more members of the core Implementation Team should have competency and experiences aligned with the context in which the innovation will be used in at least one of the following areas.

There should be Implementation Team members who:

  • Know the EBPs – For example, in education, they are fluent in instructional practices or behavioral interventions and understand the proficient practice. They know what supports are available through the curriculum or intervention developer/purveyor and what supports need to be put in place and supported to promote teacher competency. When a new practice or program is adopted, knowledge of the direct practice or program may not be available, and familiarity with a similar practice or program will meet this need. 
  • Know and use Implementation Science and best practices – They are well-versed in the key components of Implementation Science. They understand the Stages of Implementation and appropriate activities for each stage. They are knowledgeable about Implementation Drivers and can assess the integrated and compensatory nature of their functioning. 
  • Employ Improvement Cycles – They make good use of Plan, Do, Study, Act cycles, usability testing, and practice-policy communication practices to improve the quality of the components of implementation continually, the evidence-based practice, and the system. They continuously identify and address challenges and barriers to effective implementation and achieving positive outcomes. If these skills are not readily available, using an improvement mindset and data-based decision-making will work as an entry-level skill until more advanced knowledge of improvement science can be developed. 
  • Promote and participate in systems changes – They work at multiple levels of the system to create hospitable environments, cultures, policies, guidelines, data systems, and funding streams.
  • Flexibility to deal with ambiguity and ongoing change – They are open to engaging in iterative cycles of improvement and action planning. This also includes being comfortable with challenging the status quo. 
  • Has adequate FTE - This is a critical factor to consider as it is necessary to dedicate time to implementation activities and support. 
  • Willingness to engage in work – They must want to engage in and be accountable for selecting, implementing, and monitoring improvement related to the use of evidence-based practice or program (EBP).

Activity 3.3
Create a Mock Implementation Team

You have decided to explore the potential of having an Implementation Team in your building, district, region, or state. Looking across your organization, is there an existing team that could be repurposed? Or, do you need to start fresh? Use this starter activity to facilitate your thinking/planning.

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