By: Rachel Luoma, MS, CAE
I don’t know about you, but I grew up a military brat. That meant if you weren’t 10 minutes early, you were late. It also meant the dishes were to be put in the dishwasher in a specific place and spontaneity was that you only had a day or two of notice before an event or activity. I laughed out loud at BuzzFeed’s 25 Signs You Grew Up As A Military Brat as it explained my childhood pretty accurately.
I will never forget the 5 P’s as my dad called them “poor planning perpetuates poor performance”, or, my personal favorite, the 7 P’s “piss poor planning perpetuates piss poor performance”. The 7 P’s were typically reserved for when I got into trouble.
Now that I am older, I have such a great appreciation for my childhood and the things that were instilled in me – hard work, planning and follow-through. As an association management professional, I realize that many of the same values hold true that I learned in my childhood.
Recently, one of our organizations with a certification element was looking at enhancing its value proposition by adding a continuing education requirement as part of its renewal. The organization was evaluating its current renewal process and was looking at potentially transitioning from an assessment based renewal (i.e. testing) over to a training based renewal (i.e. continuing education).
There are a multitude of factors to consider when revising a certification program or adding a new element and they all boil down to one key factor – PLANNING. Planning is a universal process whether you are talking about something minor or something major.
Often times, the success of an initiative comes down to planning. What considerations do you need to make in the planning process? Where do you start?
Principles of Association Management, 4th Edition, by Henry L. Ernstthal, CAE, is a great place to get a framework for the planning process. This book was essential as I was preparing for the Certified Association Executive (CAE) examination.
It would be natural to want to jump in with both feet first and start talking about all the changes that need to be made. However, before that process begins, you have to look at the “who” and the “why” of the planning process – as outlined in steps one and two of the process identified by Ernstthal.
This is an essential part of the planning process as it will ensure that the organization assigns accountabilities in the process, and more importantly, that it doesn’t work outside the scope of the mission.
From there you have to collect data and scan the environment. Questions to ask in the planning process of the development of a continuing education program include:
How does the program impact the profession? Positively? Negatively?
What is the financial impact on the organization?
Would the industry see value in a program of this nature? Is there a need?
What is the primary competition for the program?
What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats of this program?
What would the mission of this program be?
What are the goals of this program?
Beyond these theoretical questions, there are operational questions that need to be reviewed as well. Once all these questions are answered, if there is still a desire to move forward, one must put together an operational plan with quantifiable goals, objectives and strategies as well as a timeline for implementation.
From there, accountabilities need to be assigned as well. The final part of the planning process that isn’t necessary outlined in the steps, but is key to success is monitoring, reporting and evaluating. Included in your plan, you must set up a system for monitoring your plan through the implementation phase, report the progress to the applicable parties and set up a system to evaluate your plan.
The bottom line is that a “properly planned program propagates peak performance”.
Hey…did I just create the 6 P’s? My dad would be proud!