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Les Potter received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years in school administration and educational leadership including: Assistant to the Superintendent (...
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5 Phases of Program Implementation

B. Harris, a number of years ago, stated that there are five phases frequently involved in the implementation of a new program at the school or district level. He states that these phases come in a sequential order, but they often overlap one another.

Phase one, planning and initiation: The purpose of the program is considered, goals are clarified, activities are selected, and resources needed are considered. Interests mounts as individuals involved sense the relationships between the program and its goals and their needs.

Phase two, momentum: Goal-directed activities get under way. Resources begin to be used. Interest continues to be high and mounts. Feelings of involvement and personal worth grow. The activities are recognized as potentially satisfying. Leading and organizing processes are most heavily employed in this phase.

Phase three, problems: Activities lead to unexpected problems. The plans become increasingly complex. Initial activities lead to the proliferation of still more activities. Certain resources are not readily available. Differences in goal perception among group members become apparent. The demands of other responsibilities produce conflicts. The goal seems more remote and more difficult to attain than before. Some participates fail to live up to expectations. Interest levels out and begin a steep decline. A leadership investment is critical during this phase.

Phase four, turning point: The problem trends describe in the previous phase either continue to grow or are overcome and minimized. The momentum the program has gained, the effectiveness of initial planning, and the individuals in the operation are all quite important during this phase. Above all, the amount and quality of leadership continues to be crucial.

Phase five, termination: There can be such unexpected problems as:

  • The task is too complex
  • Lack of time and/or resources
  • Other more critical priority needs
  • Interest is waning and consensus to proceed has not been reached
  • Change in leadership

This will likely result in termination of efforts because goal-directed activities will rapidly deteriorate and come to a halt. If, on the other hand, problems are dealt with promptly, the task is analyzed and simplified, new resources are made available and goals are clarified, then interest gradually mounts again and goal directed activities proceed at an increased pace. Interest is now based on a sense of events points out the importance of leadership at various phases of program implementation. Undoubtedly, this sequence of events will have variations and exceptions depending on the program, activities, and the participates involved.


Les Potter, Ed. D.

American International School West
Cairo, Egypt