Over the last three years, the team at Harmony Hall, your Society Board of Directors, and the Districts of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) have been focused on enriching our programs, tightening our operations, building visibility and partnerships, and setting the Society on a sustainable financial path.
With much of that work now underway, BHS is secure in the present and very excited to be looking towards the future. To plot our long-term course, we have started a long-range, Society-wide Strategic Planning Process. We are delighted to provide you with an overview of this project, and encourage you to check back here frequently for updates.
Forming Our Strategy
The goal? The most far-reaching, expansive, visionary plan possible to secure the future of BHS as far into the horizon as we can see. Our intention is to define a path that will do nothing less than ensure a whole world singing for as long as we can imagine. Thus, the plan we develop will look at every aspect of what it means and will mean to be the Barbershop Harmony Society, including our product, our members, our structure, how we’re governed, our business model and the financial underpinning for success.
The plan will certainly be informed by the needs and wants of our current members and stakeholders, but it will also look beyond that to what we must do to remain relevant and of service to future generations of barbershoppers as well.
The process actually began last fall, when BHS senior staff began working with the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) of the Board. Previously, the SPC had been called the Annual Planning Cycle Committee, and had been focused on setting annual benchmarks for the staff.
With the current state of the Society stabilized, we developed a way of thinking about our current work around a set of four key outcomes: The Four Pillars of BHS:
- Through the medium of barbershop harmony, we maintain and expand supportive services for a global community of artists.
- Through the medium of barbershop harmony, we elevate artistic and leadership skills through education and best practices.
- Through the medium of barbershop harmony, we establish lifelong singing as a core community asset.
- We scale our impact by growing social enterprises, individual philanthropy and institutional philanthropy.
Having organized our current state around these pillars, we were then able to turn our attention to the need and the opportunity for a much longer planning view. This led to the process that is now about to unfold.
What will the process look like, and how will the members be involved?
The ultimate plan we will be informed in equal parts by input we’ll gather from our members, by data we’ll gather from the external environment, and from what the BHS team has learned through its total immersion in the business of the Society.
The project will take place in three main phases:
- In the Gathering Phase, currently underway and extending through November 2016, we will collect input from our membership, produce internal analysis, and scan the external environment for key strategy “clues”.
- In the Synthesis and Design Phase (October 2016 - March 2017), we will develop and design the strategic plan based on the information gathered.
- Finally, in the Approval and Communication Phase (March-May 2017), we will bring forward the recommended plan for buy-in and, ultimately, approval.
The Gathering Phase will be an opportunity for an unprecedented amount of member input into the Society’s future. Here’s what’s coming up:
- On May 16, a Member Satisfaction Survey will be distributed to all BHS members. This will be your chance to tell us, in detail, how we are doing. We’d like to get this report card from every single member.
- In May, your Society Board of Directors will be meeting for an entire weekend retreat focused on broad, anything-is-possible discussions about the future of the Society.
- In July and August, a smaller set of BHS members representing key member groups will be asked to participate in a more extensive online discussion of the future of Society.
- At the International Convention in Nashville, we’ll be doing a “come one, come all” Town Hall meeting to allow any and all members the chance to tell us what’s on their minds.
- In August, we’ll be distributing a Future Directions Survey to all members, to get your opinions on some of the ideas that have begun to emerge.
- In August, we will also be launching a new survey tool, called the Cultural Data Project, to develop detailed profiles of our chapters and what makes them tick.
- Districts will provide direct input to the process via 1:1 conversations with CEO Marty Monson on a quarterly basis.
- In September and October, members of the Stategic Planning Committee and senior staff will travel to every District to meet with your Houses of Delegates.
- Even while this data gathering proceeds, we will also be doing an external scan of the choral world, other choral organizations and other membership organizations. This work actually began a few weeks ago at the Choral Ecosystem Forum at Yale, co-sponsored by BHS.
Who is on the Strategic Planning Team?
Ultimately, the development and execution of the Strategic Plan is the responsibility of the CEO of BHS, Marty Monson, and his staff. Marty’s primary point person for the process is Kevin Lynch, Chief Strategy Officer. The Strategic Planning Committee of the Board provides oversight to Marty, Kevin and the BHS staff. Ultimately, the Society Board will act to approve the finished Strategic Plan.
As a member, your voice will be heard through the channels described above, so please be sure to respond as those requests come your way. Additionally, we have set up a special email address to accept any inquiries you may have. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, suggestions and questions.