STEP 1: Setting Objectives

In this section you will be identifying the objectives that you want your program to achieve.
You will:

  • Describe the situation you want to change or the problem you want to solve.
  • Identify the specific actions you want people to take to help solve the problem.
  • Set measurable objectives that can help you monitor and evaluate your progress.
  • Decide how you will measure the achievement of these objectives
1. Identify the problem(s) you want to solve or the situation you want to change.

Examples

North Shore Recycling’s Compost Coaching program wanted to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

At the time of the Loreto Bay campaign, local fishers were overharvesting a number of economically important species (in violation of allowable-catch quotas) and illegally removing from the population juveniles and protected species.

Cage-Free Campus wanted to reduce the number of chickens raised in cramped cages in “factory farming” facilities.

COAST wanted to reduce Chlamydia infection rates. 

Tip: The more specific the problem, the easier it will be to work on.

Your Program

Describe the problem you want to solve or the situation you want to change.
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How does this relate to your organization's mandates and goals?
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2. Decide on the specific actions you want people to take to help solve the problem.

Examples

Love to Ride wanted people to cycle more often.

The Bicycle Friendly Communities Program worked upstream, to engage more municipal decision-makers to support cycling-friendly options and thereby encourage more citizens to cycle more often instead of driving.

North Shore Recycling’s Compost Coaching program wanted more people to compost their waste at home.

Loreto Bay wanted to increase the adoption of sustainable fishing practices like respecting no-take zones, closed seasons, and illegal species.

Your Program

Write out the specific actions you want people to take.

Action 1
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Action 2
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Action 3
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3. Determine baselines against which you can measure your achievements.

Examples

Burlington’s Ice Rink Energy Competition used utility data from the year before, adjusted for weather and use factors, to set a baseline for each arena.

Haliburton Communities in Action used a community on-line survey as well as observation counts of walking and cycling in order to determine baseline levels.

Loreto Bay’s baseline survey asked key questions about preferred methods of fishing, species targeted, and understanding of species decline, allowable-catch laws that existed and areas where fishing was restricted.

HoMBReS measured testing and condom-use rates before its intervention began.

Tip: For suggestions on answering these questions, see Getting Informed

Your Program

What is the current level of participation in the activity?
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What is the current rate at which related resources are being used?
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What are the current levels of related and measurable health characteristics?
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4. Set measurable objectives that can help you monitor and evaluate your progress.

Examples

Nortel Networks set two measurable objectives:

  1. To increase the percentage of non-auto trips from 12 percent to 15 percent by the year 2000, and to 25 percent by the year 2005.
  2. To increase average auto occupancy from 1.12 to 1.3 persons per car by the year 2000, and to 1.5 persons per car by the year 2005.

Stockholm’s Congestion Pricing was designed to decrease car use on the busiest roads by 10-15% during the period of the pilot study.

Stepping it Up wanted to decrease the use of student travel by car to and from school by 5% from April 2009 to December 2011, and to decrease car travel by school staff to and from work by 3% during this period.

COAST set the target of screening 15% of all 15-24 year olds living in Northern Lincolnshire for Chlamydia in the first year (2007), then 17% in 2008/09, 25% in 2009/10, and 35% by 2010/11.

Your Program

What changes in participation, resource use, and/or health characteristics have others achieved?
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What circumstances in your community will affect your ability to achieve similar results?
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What is a realistic target to set? Specify how much of a change you hope to achieve, and in how many years you hope to achieve it.
Action 1
What?
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by how much?
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by what date?
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Action 2
What?
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by how much?
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by what date?
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Action 3
What?
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by how much?
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by what date?
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5. Decide how you will measure the achievement of these objectives.

Examples

Students at Norway, Whitney and Lochside (Bike Smarts) schools took surveys home for their parents to complete. This provided a "quick and dirty" estimate of the impact of these programs.

The Roach Coach Project used a close-ended questionnaire administered over the phone at the beginning of the pilot, and about six weeks after the educational intervention.

In exchange for data on the sales of labelled products with recycled content, Get in the Loop - Buy Recycled provided retail partners with mention in the program's paid advertising and public relations materials.

Each EcoTeam in the Global Action Plan program collected information on the activities of its participants and then provided it to a central database. This information was used to estimate the resource savings that each participant had achieved. The data were then available on an individual, team, country-wide and program-wide basis.

Go Boulder was able to directly count the number of people who bought transit passes.

Go Boulder had survey participants record their transportation patterns using logbooks.

Quinte Regional Recycling tracked curbside lift counts, the weight of waste going to landfill, the weight of Blue Box materials, and savings in landfill costs, among other variables.

Tip: Whenever practical, measure actions and their results directly. You will get more accurate information than if you use the less direct methods discussed in Getting Informed.

Tip: Where possible, avoid having participants estimate their actions or results, as estimates provide unreliable information. Similarly, avoid asking people to speculate on intended actions and results. If you must rely on such estimates, verify them periodically using direct methods.

Your Program

How can you measure the actions and their results directly?
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How might you get participants to measure their actions and results, and report them to you (less direct)?
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Can you get useful information by asking participants to estimate their actions or results?
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If you cannot measure results directly and are not able to have participants do it, how might you estimate your achievements (least direct)? How will you compensate for, or otherwise deal with, the expected inaccuracy?
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