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Strategic Planning Update: Member Wisdom Revealed!

Listen as Kevin Lynch reviews the BHS Member Satisfaction Survey in 2016.


Since our last post about Strategic Planning, a variety of activities designed to more clearly hear the “Voice of the Society” at many different levels have been completed.

On May 13-15, the Society Board of Directors (SBOD) met for a three day reflective retreat, where they discussed:

  • Our DNA
  • Why We Exist
  • The Past and Future History of the Society
  • Big Shifts We’re Making and Must Make
  • Core Competencies
  • Key Constituencies
  • External Trends Shaping Our Future
  • Implications For Strategic


In May and June, the Strategic Planning Team presented their first full-fledged Member Survey, with nearly 3,000 members choosing to participate.  A full report of the research was presented to the SBOD at the July Board meeting and is now available for online viewing here.  

Twelve key conclusions emerged from the findings:

  • BHS is demographically isolated as a 95%+ white male organization.
  • Although singing in a chorus is the most widespread BHS activity, the quartet still lies at the heart of barbershopping.
  • Member engagement in BHS is concentrated at the grassroots chapter level, with much less affinity with their Districts and with Harmony Hall.
  • BHS is missing opportunities for stronger branding, partnership development and outreach at the level of District conventions.
  • The appeal of barbershopping is a potent mix of factors that occurs when “ringing chords, together, really well, for others.”
  • These intrinsic benefits tend to survive, no matter what might be working or not working in a particular chapter, chorus or district.
  • Young barbershoppers are the most wildly enthusiastic segment of our entire BHS community.
  • In addition to the pure joy of singing, young members viscerally understand the value of barbershopping as part of their personal development.
  • As a whole, the Society faces “the risk of moderate satisfaction”.  On many measurements of performance, we receive a score of around “4” on a 5 point scale.  This suggests there is still considerable room for improvement, but also creates the real possibility of becoming complacent, of thinking a “4” is good enough.
  • Members are able to gravitate to the kind of chapter that best suits them — ranging from show-focused to competition-focused to community-focused to social and fellowship focused.
  • We are making progress towards the “Four Pillars” (described in detail here).
  • Barbershoppers’ potential philanthropic generosity has yet to be fully realized.


In June, 46 key influencers provided written comments.  They identified and gave us deep insight on several opportunities, challenges, and recurring issues, including:

  • Membership
  • Marketing, PR, Image
  • The Music
  • BHS Diversity (or lack thereof)
  • Music Education
  • BHS Gender Policies
  • Partnerships, Collaboration
  • Outreach
  • Barbershop Culture
  • Governance, Leadership
  • Chapters


At the International Convention in Nashville, a dozen or more BHS members from all walks of barbershopping joined the Board for an “Open Mic Session” where members talked and leadership listened.

In July, under the leadership of BHS member Matt Gorman, a Youth Advisory Council was created as an arm of the Strategic Planning Committee. The first meeting took place in August and we look forward to the first reports from that team.

Coming up in August will be a forward-looking Future Directions Survey.  Be sure to lend your voice to this critical forward-looking work!

As always, we appreciate your thoughts and ideas.  The Strategic Planning Team has set up a special mailbox to receive any direct input or  inquiries you may have.  Write them at with your comments, suggestions, and questions.