Leadership Program Bulletin
Is Your Club Ready for Change?
Change does not change tradition. It strengthens it.
Change is a challenge and an opportunity; not a threat.
—Prince Phillip of England
Strategic planning is a tool that can change your way of thinking from reactive to proactive. By following this process, your club can actually anticipate, plan, and create the future of club work. It can stimulate creative thinking and nurture team building. Strategic planning emphasizes the process in addition to the end product. It takes into account the vision, creativity, values, as well as the structure and culture of your club. More importantly, it leads to a common vision among your members and helps to clarify this vision for potential members.
Most of us have the best intentions in mind when we start something new, like going to the gym, saving money, or eating healthy. But many of us find ourselves abandoning the most well intentioned resolutions shortly after they are made because there are no defined benchmarks along the way.Club leaders and even members experience this same frustration when organizational or program benchmarks are not defined. But there is hope. Setting and communicating SMART goals can help your club more effectively achieve its commitments.
If the whole point of setting goals is to achieve them, then the best goals are smart goals. SMART is a handy acronym for the five characteristics of well-designed goals.
S – SPECIFIC (Who or What): It is important to remember that a goal cannot be too general in nature. It must be to the point. It must define a specific outcome. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.
M – MEASURABLE (How): All goals must be measurable. When members successfully reach a goal, they will be motivated and determined to do more and do it better. Establish concrete criteria for measuring your progress. When you do, you will stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the excitement of achievement that continues spurring your members on. To determine if your goal is measurable ask: How much? How many? How will we know when it is accomplished?
A – ATTAINABLE: It is important to know your members’ capabilities. Any goal must be within reach. It must be possible to attain what you set out to achieve. If it is not achievable, it can lead to negative experiences and a lack of interest in trying again. When members identify goals that are most important to them, they begin to figure out ways to reach them.
R – REALISTIC: The measurable parts of a goal must never be too easy or too difficult. To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective which your members are both willing and able to accomplish. Breaking a goal down into smaller tasks will give the club additional chances to be successful and to make adjustments which, in time, will help to reach the final goal.
T – TIME SENSITIVE (When): Each goal or objective must have a time limit. Without it, there are no deadlines. Working within deadlines makes it easier to measure and determine success. Time limits must be measurable, attainable, and realistic. Remember, if you don’t set a time frame, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because there is no urgency to get started or to finish. Giving your goals an end point provides a clear target to work towards.
How Do We Ensure Implementation of Our New Plan?
Here are some guidelines that will help ensure that the plan is implemented.
- Involve the people who will be responsible for carrying out the plan in the planning process. Include club president and officers, committee chairmen, and members to ensure the plan is realistic and collaborative.
- Make sure that the goals are realistic. Always ask, “Can we really do this?”
- Don’t forget to specify who is doing what and when it needs to be done.
- Translate the strategic plan’s tasks into job descriptions so everyone can keep track of their own responsibilities and, more importantly, let others know if the tasks cannot be completed by the targeted date.
- Let everyone know that the tasks will be regularly reviewed. People tend to do their jobs when they know that someone will be checking.
- Be sure to distribute the plan to everyone -- and that includes all members. Invite review input from all. Ask your members: “How are we doing?”
- Have pairs or teams of members be responsible for a task, rather than just one person. This helps to instill confidence in all members and is a way to nurture and cultivate new leaders.
Simply put, strategic planning determines where an organization is going over the next year or more, how it's going to get there, and how it will know when it arrives. Your strategic plan does not have to end up as filler for the club’s archives. These guidelines can be an invaluable map to your club’s future.
—Chris Sienkielewski (N.J.), GFWC Leadership Chairmam