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Starting 2017 … Strategically!

drawing businss concept

The BHS Strategic Planning Process is continuing to move forward.  Here’s the quick story:

  • We have complete the “Gathering” stage, wherein we have collected a massive amount of data and opinion about where we’re at and where we should be headed.
  • We are mid-way through the “Synthesis and Design” stage, with a clear direction emerging for our Strategic Plan among BHS staff and Board alike.
  • We are on track to move the plan into final draft stage this spring and begin sharing more details in the second half of 2017.


Now, here’s the longer story:

The Society staff, Board and Strategic Planning Committee are deeply engaged in the second phase of our Strategic Planning Process … the “Synthesis and Design” stage.  In this stage we are taking everything we have learned in the “Gathering” phase and turning it into a concrete picture of an exciting future for the Barbershop Harmony Society.

As a reminder, here is what we have done so far:

  • Listened to 2900 members who gave us a “report card” on how we are doing through the Member Satisfaction Survey.
  • Spent an entire weekend as the Society Board, focusing on “blue-sky” discussions about the future of the Society.
  • Produced a “come one, come all” Town Hall meeting at the International Convention to give any and all members the chance to tell us what’s on their minds.
  • Solicited deep commentary from 75 key BHS “influentials” and 17 District Presidents.
  • Got specific feedback, from 3100 members who took our Future Directions Survey, on a wide range of futuristic topics ranging from our vision, to our membership model, to gender and inclusion, to the kind of events we should produce.
  • Conducted a Listening Session at every fall District Convention, reaching hundreds of “Joe Barbershoppers”.
  • Commissioned a major study of the “Choral Ecosystem” and where the Society fits within it.
  • Established a Youth Advisory Council as an adjunct to our planning team, and added a representative from this group to the Strategic Planning Committee.
  • Completed a survey of all of our BHS Associates.
  • Spent 2.5 days at a staff retreat in October to begin outlining the strategic plan framework.
  • Brought that framework to a working session of the Board in November and gained remarkable unity around future concepts.
  • Activated five core staff teams to begin building the qualitative dimensions of the plan.  Each team spent a day working together in December, followed by several team meetings to refine the plan document.



Through all of this work, we’ve focused on a few core concepts that are guiding future plans:

  • Confirming The Obvious:  At the heart of the appeal of barbershopping is a mysterious alchemy that occurs from four voice parts “ringing chords, together, really well, for others.”  It’s the music, stupid!  Despite our worship of competitive excellence, it’s really about the fun.
  • Open To Change:  There is a remarkable level of interest in trying new directions that will allow barbershop harmony to grow, expand and touch more lives.  This can be done while preserving the traditional aspects to which many members are attached.
  • A More Diverse Future:  We are a demographically isolated Society.  This is big opportunity for growth and expansion.
  • A Big Appetite:  Our stakeholders want more:  More programs, more resources, more music!

Learning from these concepts, we have now assembled an array of working teams that are , including:

  • Focusing on participation and engagement
  • Delivering value for communities of artists
  • Sharpening programs
  • Build revenue, brand and unity
  • Honing our financial model
  • Leveraging technology
  • Leveraging data
  • Modernizing leadership
  • Rearticulating mission, vision and purpose statements
  • Building a business structure for the future

The staff brought a first cut of the plan to the Board meeting at the Midwinter Convention in San Antonio.  The Board supported the direction that the plan is taking and affirmed that it is consistent with the scope and process it had set forth and reflective of the input gathered to date.

From February through March, we will fine tune the plan and anticipate bringing it to the Society Board for approval in May.  From there … look out, world!  More singing is on the way!

As always, we appreciate your thoughts and ideas.  We have set up a special mailbox to accept any input or  inquiries you may have.  Write us at with your comments, suggestions and questions.