Strategic Planning for Roller Derby League – Part 10. The follow through

If you made it this far, then your league has:

The league's mission, goals and committee strategies are all connected to benefit the greater good - your members!

The league’s mission, goals and committee strategies are all connected to benefit the greater good – your members!

With each committee breaking down each goal into bite-size tasks, it makes the running of the league less daunting because ALL members are doing a little bit of something.

The flow of ideas become more fluid and committees can confidently make decisions about what to try next, as the next strategy will also reflect a common league goal. Members can refer to the materials created during the strategic planning process to help jump-start conversations within the committee.

At the committee level, there is still debate as to what strategy to focus on, if there are several potential candidates. But members can also measure their strategies against the league’s mission to help analytically make a decision, eliminating personal interests and bias toward one decision than the other.

If you’ve written your league goals using SMART guidelines, members will be able to analyze strategic contributions toward achieving that goal. For example, if advertising your league’s new skater intake brings adds 5 dues-paying fresh meat members, that strategy has contributed to the goal of increasing membership by the start of the 2016 season. It also shows the strategy of advertising new skater intake is effective and worth trying again.

Failure is reduced as it gives committees the power to re-evaluate and try strategies again. A failed committee strategy does not get abandoned and ignored if it doesn’t work. The committee may choose to evaluate its failure, alter and try again, or they may choose to table it and go in a completely different direction.

Your mission, goals and strategies should be able to connect easily to each other. The strategy that has potential to achieve multiple points within the mission is often a good place to start.

Committee Strategy helps achieve league goals. League goals help achieve league mission.

Committee Strategy helps achieve league goals. League goals help achieve league mission.

For example:

The training committee’s strategy of:
Advertising to promote new skater intake nights…

Helps achieve the league goal of:
Increase membership by 10 male adult skaters, 15 junior skaters and 5 female adult skaters by the start of the 2016 season…

Which contributes to achieve the league’s mission:
To educate and develop the community of roller derby while providing an opportunity to engage in an alternative sport, healthy-living, competitive atmosphere and volunteerism.

This strategy has potential to make a large impact toward the league’s mission because it has potential to affect multiple points within the mission: community development, raising awareness which will provide more opportunities for other to engage in the sport. It’s a good strategy to pursue.

However, in order to maintain the empowerment, committees directors and members need to make the commitment to: 

Regularly communicate the mission and goals to the entire league

This will improve member engagement, empower them to stay on task and increase member buy-in. Post your mission and goals in your league’s private Facebook group. Scan or digitize your flowchart from the session and post it online or hang it up in your practice space. Include your mission on all internal and external league communication.

Conduct regular meetings at the committee level

Committees need to come together regularly to discuss progress within their strategies. In person is best, but there are alternatives like Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger (not my favourite as context is often lost and it’s easy for conversations to get off track).

When a committee strategy is chosen to be focused on, every committee member should be given a task to contribute to its completion. The meetings are simply providing updates as to where each committee member is at with their task and discuss regular week-to-week business the committee is responsible.

If the meetings are REGULAR and everyone makes the commitment to be PREPARED to provide a quick update, you will find meetings will go quickly and all committee members will know what others have been doing to work toward the goal. Full transparency reduces questionable behaviour and allows members to hold each other accountable in achieving the league goals.

Insist committee chairs report at board meetings

Committee chairs should prepare a monthly report summarizing what the committee has been doing to work toward the league’s goal. For example: At the first board meeting after the strategic planning session, XYZ’s training committee chair may report they have sent a request to the finance committee for advertising funds approval and they are awaiting a decision.

During the finance committee report, the chair may communicate to the training committee chair the finance committee approved the request and they have the go ahead to start booking advertising.

As a result, directors make fewer decisions at the board meeting level and become more league facilitators and policy implementers. The week-to-week operations and strategy decisions are moved to the committee-level, because you have developed a strong foundation to make decisions from.

Larger league re-focusing goals are handled at the board level. For example: to achieve goals the league may have to decide to increase dues, integrate a paid a staff member or review skater code of conduct policies. One-time and short-term goals are handled by the committee members. For example: fundraising or bout events, pricing out and purchasing gear, determining skater intakes.

Because the work at the committee level is regularly reported at the board level by the committee chair, board members know what’s going on and can monitor activity, but have less of a hand in implementation because that work has been pushed to the committee level.

If meetings are regularly conducted at the committee level, chairs can distribute tasks and continue involving their members in discussing ways to achieve goals. Everyone becomes engaged and involved!

What a novel idea – everyone has a hand in contributing to the league’s success!

By setting a league mission, writing league goals based on that mission and allowing committees to set strategy to achieve the league goals:

  • Moves the decision-making power to the committees and gives them the power to also implement them.

Since league committees are made up of more skaters than directors, tasks are more equally divided across the league, board members are less likely to suffer burnout and…

…the league is truly
BY THE SKATERS, FOR THE SKATERS
as all are contributing to the league’s success!

Thank you for reading through my strategic planning series! I look forward to hearing feedback about your experiences with roller derby strategic planning.

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 

Strategic Planning for Roller Derby Leagues – Part 9. Determine strategy to achieve short and long-term goals

You’ve come a long way in determining your league’s direction! Be sure to give your members a pat on the back. 

Committee Strategy helps achieve league goals. League goals help achieve league mission.

Committee strategy helps achieve league goals. League goals help achieve league mission.

This next step can be completed on the same strategic planning day or task each committee chair to have their own meeting to develop strategy a few days after the strategic planning session.

Developing strategy means asking: “How are we going to achieve our goal?” and this is where members earn their sense of empowerment and become more engaged to participate in their league’s success.

The facilitator asks for the board of directors to join as a group and have the rest of the members split into committees they serve on. Members who aren’t on the board or part of a committee can join any group they have an interest in.

Any member who has not previously joined a committee can consider this their committee draft day. Whichever group they join, they are now a member.

Each group needs to appoint someone to record ideas. With the league goals and league mission displayed, discuss what you can do at your board or committee level to help contribute to the league goals. These tasks will help set your committee’s focus over the coming months.

For example, in the previous activity, members decided this was the league goal…

Increase membership by 10 male adult skaters, 15 junior skaters and 5 female adult skaters by the start of the 2016 season.

To achieve that goal the committees may contribute in the following way:

Training committee:

Ask for advertising budget to promote new skater intake nights to help contribute to the goal of increasing memberships.

Increase the number of new skater intake nights.

Develop a 3-month fresh meat plan that provides consistent skill development and progress check points to keep new skaters engaged and returning to fresh meat practice.

Fundraising committee:

Investigate more public fundraisers and include a recruitment component to take advantage of the new audiences.

Media committee:

Develop a fresh meat information package which provides practice days & times, places to purchase gear, fees and communicates what it’s like to be part of the culture of roller derby.

Finance committee:

Budget $200 to buy more ‘tryout’ gear

An example flow chart

An example flow chart

Once each committee brainstorms their ideas, the facilitator creates a flowchart capturing all the ideas (this is big task and may need to be completed after the meeting).

Individually, committees now have now strategically chosen their direction, which contributes to larger league goals and mission. From this point, it’s up to the committees to appropriately task their members with jobs in order to complete these strategies.

To achieve the league goals, tasks may include one-time or short-term projects, like buying more loaner gear so new recruits can try (and get hooked) on the sport. On the other side of the spectrum, leagues may need to change policy, change the way they are internally structured or change the way they run their league in order to achieve goals. Larger league re-focusing initiatives will need to be handled at the board level. (For example: to achieve goals the league may have to decide to increase dues, integrate a paid a staff member or review skater code of conduct policies.) One-time and short-term projects should be handled by the committee members. It just doesn’t make sense to task board members to price out and purchase new loaner gear when you likely have 15+ members who could also complete that task.

If your board of directors are guiding all the decisions (big and small) and taking on the responsibility in implementation, not only will those board members eventually burn out, they also set themselves up for criticism (as discussed in the introduction of this series) and are missing out on engaging and using a very skilled and capable group – the rest of the members who are not on the board.

Writing league goals and empowering your committees to make decisions to achieve those goals, will eliminate the guesswork of focus, put trust and faith in your committees, which will then boost morale through conscious member engagement.

But once you’ve written your mission statement, determined league goals and set strategy, your work doesn’t stop there. Following through after the strategic planning process is essential, which is discussed in the next (and final) post.

CONGRATULATIONS! Your strategic planning session is complete. Go buy yourselves a round or two.

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 

Strategic Planning for Roller Derby Leagues – Part 8. Determine your goals

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make sure members take a break and do a fun activity before starting the next step. Time to plank!

During the strategic planning process, a league can write as many goals they feel they can realistically achieve. Just like how mission statements follow a formula, writing goals also follows a formula:

S – Specific: The who, what, when, where, why and how of the goal.

M – Measurable: Include a way to measure success. How will know you you’ve achieved your goal?

A – Attainable: Based on your current league resources, is the goal attainable?

R – Relevant: Is it consistent with the league’s mission?

T – Timely: What’s the deadline or time frame in which you want to achieve results?

For detailed information and more examples of SMART goals, please visit this article. Also check out this great article by 8-Mean Wheeler of Terminal City Rollergirls about goal setting for your league.

XYZ League has completed analyzing where they are and where they want to go and have determined three categories to focus on for the next year: membership, training and space.

Armed with their new mission statement as guidance, members can now work together to analyze popular topics within each category and determine common goals which reflect member priorities.

blog categories

Members may vote to choose the most popular topics to write goals around. Or members may want to specifically write goals focused on increasing a current strength, eliminating a weakness, achieving an objective or reducing a threat. However you choose your league priorities, be sure there is discussion and an opportunity for members to vote.

Looking at XYZ League’s desired achievement (opportunities) under membership, it’s discussed that a league priority should be recruitment and retention so the league can potentially expand into four teams. A potential goal that reflects that priority, follows the SMART acronym and supports the league mission could be:

Increase membership by 10 male adult skaters, 15 junior skaters and 5 female adult skaters by the start of the 2016 season.

The goal is specific. It tells us exactly what the league wants to achieve – gain new members.

The goal is measurable. Specific numbers if recruitment are indicated so members can monitor progress while reaching it.

The goal is attainable. It will take focused work to make it happen, but is within reach for the league based on it’s current resources.

The goal is relevant. The goal of increasing membership across multiple spectrums supports the highlighted section of the league’s mission below:

The XYZ League is an all-ages, all inclusive roller derby league. Our mission is to educate and develop the community of roller derby while providing an opportunity to engage in an alternative sport, healthy-living, competitive atmosphere and volunteerism.

The goal is timely. An end date of achievement has been set.

Because this goal reflects the member priorities outlined in the previous exercise and contributes to achieving the league mission, it’s a good one for the members to accept.

It’s clear another goal priority should encompass overcoming the weaknesses within membership. Communication, drama and unwelcome environments appear to be an issue. Let’s write a SMART goal to help bring focus to overcome that concern:

Create an environment of mutual respect, tolerance and trust to maintain 80% skater retention and reduce reported member conflict by 20% by the start of the 2016 season.

The goal is specific. It tells us exactly what the league wants to achieve – keep existing members and reduce conflict by creating a positive environment.

The goal is measurable. Success is measured by how many skaters stay and how many formal complaints are reported (this league is obviously coming out of a recent league shakeup). Coming up with ways to measure the league environment or league culture can be tricky. You may want to develop a ‘league environment’ survey to help gauge the members thoughts on how they feel interacting with the other members. Then set measurables looking for increase in positive responses at the end of the goal term and have everyone re-take the same survey.

The goal is attainable. It will require shifts in attitudes and culture to make it happen, but it’s possible.

The goal is relevant. This goal achieves the following highlighted sections in the league’s mission:

The XYZ League is an all-ages, all inclusive roller derby league. Our mission is to educate and develop the community of roller derby while providing an opportunity to engage in an alternative sport, healthy-living, competitive atmosphere and volunteerism.

League goals should contribute to achieving the league's mission.

League goals should contribute to achieving the league’s mission.

The goal is timely. An end date of achievement has been set.

Because this goal also reflects member priorities and also contributes to achieving the league mission, it’s another good one to accept.

Goals should be written so all ideas within the mission statement are equally reflected. If you can’t write a goal to reflect part of your mission, members may want to step back and evaluate the mission to see if that idea should be in there.

Generally speaking, four yearly goals and two long-term goals (3-5 years) is a good place to start for smaller leagues. Be sure your goals are broad enough so all committees in your league can potentially contribute to its achievement.

The next step includes members breaking into their own committees to break down the league goals by brainstorming ideas on how their committee can contribute to each goal. This is called building strategy and is discussed in the 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 

Strategic Planning for Roller Derby Leagues – Part 6 and 7. Where are you at? Where do you want to be?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re powering through strategic planning in a single day, now might be a good time to change the session energy with a fun activity, coffee break or even lunch.

Once your mission statement is determined and displayed for all to see, the facilitator can now encourage members to share their homework.

Using four flip charts or a large white board broken into four sections, the facilitator records members responses to the following questions:

  • What does XYZ League do really well? (strengths)
  • What does XYZ League do not so well? (weaknesses)
  • What would you like the XYZ League to achieve in a year? Three years? (opportunities)
  • What would prevent the XYZ League from making those achievements? (threats)

As members are sharing their thoughts on league strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the facilitator and members will start noticing commonalities or themes emerging.

Here is XYZ League's SWOT analysis. It's important to remember this is a brainstorming session and to be open to all responses.

Here is XYZ League’s SWOT analysis. It’s important to remember this is a brainstorming session and to be open to all responses.

Once all responses are recorded, the group then chooses categories that encompass common themes and reorganizes all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats into categories. (See example)

Answers are then organized into common categories, which visually show where skater priorities lie.

Answers are then organized into common categories, which visually show where skater priorities lie.

With help from the facilitator, the members choose categories of social, membership, training and space as common themes. Then the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats get re-organized under each category. Ideas that don’t fit under any category can be set aside and considered a minor priority or a new category can be created to include it.

This process visually illustrates to all members general areas where league resources may need to be allocated and provide a starting point for goal writing.

In the example we see socially, the XYZ League is performing very strong. The members noticed the league’s strength in that area and since there are no weaknesses or opportunities, the league probably doesn’t need to focus on the social side of their league relations at this point. But it’s important to acknowledge that social issues are still important to members.

Membership and training, however, have several points that imply many members view those categories as priorities to focus on for future goal setting. These two categories will need to be examined in more detail in the next step.

The space category, while it’s not as detailed as membership and training, also contain potential for the league to focus on.

TRIGGER WARNING: If your league is recovering from a massive blowup, this step may trigger finger pointing, accusations and bringing up bad blood. It’s important for the facilitator to keep the conversation focused on the guiding questions and remind the participants that they are going through the exercise to help look ahead, not look behind. If issues continue to be brought up, section off a page or whiteboard area for ‘parking lot’ topics that will be revisited after the strategic planning process is complete.

This step will probably take the most time of your day and some of the conversations may become exhausting. But staying focused, finding reasons to laugh and remembering you’re all there to make your league better will help you stay on track.

The next post will outline how to take your gathered information and turn them into goals.

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 

Strategic Planning for Roller Derby Leagues – Part 5. Determine your mission

Image courtesy of patpitchaya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patpitchaya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to Wikipedia a mission statement communicates the “purpose of a company, organization or person, its reason for existing” and is directly connected to the goals you will be writing further down in the strategic planning process.

If you already have a mission statement, congratulations! If you don’t, you’ll want to start off your meeting by having the membership contribute to writing one.

A basic mission statement answers the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Why do you do it?
  • For whom do you do it?

To write the mission statement, members share their answers to the above questions. The facilitator records ideas on a flip chart or white board. The most valued key phrases, determined by the members in attendance, are highlighted and amalgamated into a one or two sentence mission statement summarizing their reason for existing.

For example, Gotham Girls Roller Derby includes the following statement as part of their mission:

“GGRD is committed to fostering serious competition on a national and international level, developing amateur athletes for competition, and promoting the physical and mental strength and independent spirit of amateur female athletes.”

Missions statements are necessary before starting the strategic planning process because future suggestions for league goals will be analyzed against the mission statement to ensure the goal will help the league fulfill their mission.

For example, if Gotham were going through the strategic planning process, they would look at each potential goal and ask:

  • Does this goal foster serious competition on a national and international level?
  • Does this goal help develop amateur athletes for competition?
  • Does this goal promote physical and mental strength and independent spirit of amateur female athletes?

If the league answers ‘no’ to all the questions (one yes is okay), then the goal suggestion should be tabled or altered until it can be considered as contributing to the overall league mission. If your membership can’t agree on any league goals that fit under the mission statement, you may need to update your league’s mission.

Rose City Rollers follows a slightly different theme for their mission statement:

The Rose City Rollers are Portland, Oregon’s all-female flat track roller derby league. Our mission is to develop women of attitude, athleticism and passion to play a hard-hitting sport of speed and skill. As pioneers in the rebirth of roller derby, RCR continues to foster its growth.

Rose City may ask the following questions when planning their goals:

  • Will this goal help develop women of attitude, athleticism and passion to play roller derby?
  • Will this goal foster league growth?

If your league is co-ed, includes juniors or makes giving back to the community a priority, you may want to include those points in your mission statement as well. The more input members have to develop the league’s mission statement will result in stronger individual ownership of living up to the league’s mission

For more information on how to write a mission statement, check out this article on how to write a mission statement and 5 steps to writing a mission statement.

Let’s create a mission statement for our fictional XYZ League by answering the basic mission statement questions.

blog mission

The facilitator presents each question to the members which are recorded on flip charts or white boards.

 

You can see all the responses from the members when the facilitator posed each question. From there, the members voted on the top four key words under each question and the facilitator highlighted them.

Using the most popular key words, members craft the mission statement.

Once a mission statement is created, the league votes to accept or tweak it further. Here is the mission statement for XYZ League, based on the important key words chosen by their membership.

The XYZ League is an all-ages, all inclusive roller derby league. Our mission is to educate and develop the community of roller derby while providing an opportunity to engage in an alternative sport, healthy-living, competitive atmosphere and volunteerism.

You’ll notice this mission statement has a different focus from Gotham or Rose City – it is more focused on community and awareness, which is a common theme for younger or non-hypercompetitive leagues. Going through this process will allow each league to craft their own unique mission statement which directly reflects the kind of members they have, what they collectively want to achieve.

Once you determine your mission, you can begin analyzing where you are at and where you want to go, which is the topic of 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