Strategic Planning for Roller Derby Leagues – Part 2. Encourage participation from your members, book a meeting, find a facilitator

There is no time like the present to start your strategic planning process. But in order for it to be successful, membership participation is essential.

The board of directors, committee chairs and anyone else who is supportive of going through the process need to engage other members and encourage participation. To do this, communicating the reason WHY you’re doing the process is essential. This is a time to be honest with your members.

For example:

“The board needs direction from their membership on where to spend time and resources.”

“The board knows many are unhappy with recent decisions made by the board (or xyz committee). Let’s gather our ideas and find a common goals to work toward.”

It’s important to understand not everyone will be open to the idea of going through the strategic planning process.

Members or even your directors may respond with indifference (the board never listens so why bother participating), members my resist (we fear change – let’s sabotage the process), or members may remain passive through the process and only speak up if the result of the strategic planning process doesn’t reflect their values (I’m going to sit in the back of the room and wait and see what happens).

If you’re faced with dissenters, it’s important to not brush them aside. Their opinions still matter and they are likely jaded from previous league issues or drama. Communicating what the process involves and how each member will contribute and benefit can help quiet the indifferent, resistant or passive aggressive members and turn them into contributing members. Also helpful can be assuring all members that going through the process will only make general league culture better.

Expect to ask members for a full-day commitment when going through the process.

A small investment of providing lunch and other comforts to make the process more bearable is a good decision!

A small investment of providing lunch and other comforts to make the process more bearable is a good decision! Image courtesy of piyato at

It may not take a full day, but you don’t want members rushing through the strategic planning process just to get on with the rest of the day. Rushing the process is only falling back into the pattern of making snap or unguided decisions, which you are attempting to eliminate or avoid.

Choose a day that works best for the majority of skaters. Ensuring it’s not near a bout, tournament, or other regular league meetings will help encourage attendance. Investing league funds into catering a lunch or buying a round after the meeting may also make attending more enticing.

Find a facilitator who is impartial.


Image courtesy of sixninepixels at

There are professionals who are paid to walk organizations through the strategic planning process. If you have funds to hire one, I’d recommend it. But I’m sure for most leagues new to the idea of strategic planning, the investment of a facilitator may not seem a priority. That’s okay too. A dedicated volunteer, a retired member or a spouse of a skater can also be good choices if they have good communication skills.

Bad choices for facilitators include any board member, coach or committee chair. Essentially, anyone in a leadership role is a bad idea. Going through the strategic planning process ultimately changes the way a league makes decisions. Members in leadership roles may unknowingly (or knowingly) sabotage the process to keep the way things run the same. You also want to assure the membership this will be an open and honest process. If your facilitator is the board chair, a member may be intimidated to speak freely.

The facilitator will ask guiding questions during the strategic planning process, help document and compile responses and move along the conversation once a discussion topic has run its course. Facilitators help focus ideas, but shouldn’t contribute, so finding a non-member will allow all to participate in the process.

Once you communicate with the league, book a meeting and find a facilitator, it’s time to give your members homework, which is discussed in my next post.

The New Year often reflects a time of change, which is what prompted me to write this series of posts containing a step-by-step guide on leading your league through a strategic planning session. Optimized for roller derby leagues, I tried to keep it as simple as possible and did my best to describe the activities.. Feel free to alter the process to best meet the needs of your league! Additional ideas and suggestions (if you’ve gone through the process yourself and want to share your successes/challenges) are always welcome in the comments!

More posts in the series
Strategic planning introduction
Part 1: How often should a league strategically plan?
Part 2: Encourage participation from your members, book a meeting, find a facilitator
Part 3: Give your members homework to bring bring to the meeting
Part 4: Release the meeting agenda and rules of engagement
Part 5: Determine your mission
Part 6 and 7: Where are you at? Where do you want to be?
Part 8: Determine your goals
Part 9: Determine strategy to achieve short and long-term goals
Part 10: The follow through 


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