Planning for the Future
by Dawn Farmer, National President, TBΣ |
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0099FF;”]D[/dropcap]uring my travels this past fall semester, I had the pleasure of meeting many members of Tau Beta Sigma at various schools. It is always interesting and refreshing for me to hear about the ways they serve their band and community, and field the questions that they may have about the Sorority. I recently have been asked about the term “strategic planning;” students want to know what exactly it is, and how they can use it in their own chapters. The National Council and National Leadership of Tau Beta Sigma have been using that word extensively over the past biennium, and with impressive results. Due to our use of strategic planning, we have seen an increased number of active members, retained members, and active chapters. We have become more fiscally stable and improved our communication on small and large scales. Our strategic planning meetings and teamwork has contributed the success of the Sorority.
So what is “strategic planning” exactly? How is it used?
Strategic planning, in the simplest definition, is when an organization or group defines their goals and outlines steps to reach those goals. Strategic planning is an ongoing process that changes over time. An organization, like Tau Beta Sigma, must continue to assess their direction and shape their mission and goals to carry out those ideals. When setting up a strategic plan, the stakeholders of the group must understand the current position of the organization and then outline possible areas for change and growth. Action plans can then be developed that will facilitate forward direction and growth in the areas outlined in the plan. When the first Tau Beta Sigma Mission Statement was developed in the 1990’s, the Sorority was in a certain place; through a strategic planning session last biennium, it was decided that that Sorority had moved forward and that our Mission Statement should reflect that. It was through Strategic Planning and evaluation of the organization’s goals and objectives that facilitated the updating of our Mission Statement. Tau Beta Sigma National Leadership also uses strategic planning to shape our programming, projects, and membership drives.
How can strategic planning benefit my chapter, district, or band program?
If you think that there might be a way to improve your group, then strategic planning can help you. When a group of people that care about their organization gather together to inspire positive change, the results can be amazing. At the chapter level, this may look like chapter members sitting down to discuss the purpose and mission of the chapter. It is important to note the current role of the group within the band, school, and community. From there, the members can brainstorm ideas and possibilities for potential expansion of roles or improvement. Reflect back on the purpose of the group, and then decide which avenues of growth or change are most aligned with what your group represents. Then, set goals with action steps. A goal is a broad statement, while an action step is a specific plan. If your goal is to “recruit more members from the jazz bands,” then an action step could be “host more receptions for the jazz ensembles.” This sort of planning can be used for chapters, districts, band programs, or even joint chapters. While it takes time and follow through, it can be an asset and an important foundation for improvement.
How do you start and enact strategic planning?
The first step of strategic planning is finding a group of people who care about the group and then entrusting them with the future plans of your organization. Usually this group of people consists of elected or appointed leaders, but may also include members in different levels of participation. Once you have a core strategic planning team, those members can facilitate the development of the overall vision planning for the group. All or most members should be involved in that process when possible. When the group understands their purpose, they are more able and willing to see growth and change as necessary components of success. As goals and action plans are established, the tasks and jobs should be delegated out to multiple members of the group; having more people contribute to the growth and change inspires a sense of ownership within the organization.
What happens next?
Strategic planning takes time. Change takes time. Members have to work together, over time, to enact change and growth for their group. Projects and tasks will need to be followed up on, while some will need to be abandoned. Not all goals are always met, as the group changes over time or objectives for the group change. Sometimes strategic planning is difficult due to the number of factors involved; however, with a committed group focused on strengthening their chapter/district/band, it is ultimately rewarding and amazing.
Many campuses have offices for student organizations that are able and willing to help groups with this type of project. Also, consulting with your advisor, director, or sponsor could yield valuable information or assistance. Do not hesitate to ask around if you feel that strategic planning, goal setting, and mission statement development are tools that could improve your group.
As spring is underway, I hope that everyone continues to have a productive and musical semester. I look forward to meeting new and old friends at district conventions, and please do not hesitate to introduce yourself to me or other National Officers; we truly enjoy speaking with you. Remember to value the Ideals of the Sorority and continue to work For Greater Bands!
Looking forward to all that is to come in the Future, Dawn!