Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ask the Experts: Why should clubs and districts have strategic plans?

Past District Governor Steve Wilcox, Chair of the vision facilitation team for District 5960 (Minnesota; Wisconsin, USA), replies:

Club and district strategic planning provides a vision for the future and a written action plan that promotes consensus, consistency, and continuity. This statement of goals and initiatives provides a road map that’s easy for leaders to communicate and club members to understand. Although it may seem business oriented, it serves an important purpose for any club or district that wants to grow and become more effective.

The simple act of writing down goals in a group setting builds camaraderie and fosters agreement on a vision and benchmarks. This renewed focus on objectives naturally pushes clubs and districts toward action, and when leaders routinely communicate the documented goals to club members, accountability increases.

In addition, members are more likely to buy in to Rotary when they understand its goals and their role in achieving them. The idea of Service Above Self provides Rotarians with a reason for belonging, while a strong plan provides the framework for that service.

Without such a plan, Rotary’s annual leadership turnover creates inconsistency, as new leaders come aboard with new ideas. When a plan is in place, present and future leaders can move forward with minimal confusion.

Successful organizations must be both strategic and tactical. Rotary clubs already have boards that are responsible for tactical, or day-to-day, activities. Every club should also have a strategic guidance group, perhaps made up of past, current, and future presidents, that defines and maintains the long-term, strategic path.

Reprinted from Rotary World, April 2008

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