Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Lodge strategic planning

HOW-TO: Implement your lodge's strategic plan

Where are you going?

Intacct implementation plan

Reminder - Masonic cemetery survey

Resources

Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Lodge strategic planning

To be successful, an organization must set goals that reflect its unique strengths and challenges. So when the fraternity finalized its 2010-15 strategic plan, it became more important than ever for lodges to have strategic plans of their own - plans that intersected with fraternity goals, but were tailored to each individual lodge.

Last year in Lake Forest, Irvine Valley Lodge No. 671 began that process. Master Wil Smith explains:

Background

We started having lodge-wide planning discussions in 2007, but they never materialized into a strategic plan. Five years later, we had a lot of new members, and many of the same questions were repeating. It was time to go back to planning.

I called a meeting last fall with current pedestal officers and the men in line to become lodge masters for the next five years. We knew we wouldn’t get everything done in one year, but we could get the ball rolling on some enduring projects.

Framework

  • Group vision: The first meeting was an open forum discussion. We each talked about our individual goals for our year as master, and our overall vision for the lodge in the next five years.
  • Common themes: Masonry means different things to different people. As a group, we came up with at least 20 different goals. But the more we kicked them around, it seemed that every idea fell into one of three categories: personal growth, lodge growth, and growth within the community.
  • Three pillars: We decided to call these categories the “three pillars of Irvine Valley Lodge.” As years go by, the specific goals under each pillar can change. But the pillars will endure.

Accountability

  • Strategic managers: We designated a chairman for each pillar. He is accountable for defining and managing his pillar’s specific goals.
  • Any volunteers? Rather than automatically assigning this responsibility to a pedestal officer, we looked for members who had the time and were genuinely passionate about pillar goals.

Getting specific
Each pillar chair was tasked with defining three concrete, measurable goals for the year.

  • Personal growth: Publish a quarterly Masonic education Trestleboard article; improve the quality of ritual; create a “buddy system” for brothers who may need relief.
  • Lodge growth: Increase opportunities for fellowship and family outside of the lodge; create a system for engaging and retaining new members; increase financial holdings.
  • Community: Establish annual Toys for Tots partnership; increase participation at lodge blood drives; expand the lodge’s elementary school reading program.

Communicating the plan

  • Ongoing: The pillar chairs and I talk and email frequently about their progress.
  • Introduction: In my installation speech, I explained the planning process and the framework of the three pillars. At the January stated meeting, I announced the pillar managers and their specific goals. We will give a progress update at every stated meeting.
  • Trestleboard: At the end of last year, we ran Trestleboard articles about the strategic planning process. In last month’s Trestleboard, we identified the pillar chairs and goals. We’ll continue to use the Trestleboard to give progress reports.
  • Fireside chats: This year I introduced “fireside chats”: weekly spoken updates, just two-to-four minutes long. I record them via the voice memo app on my iPhone. Every week the audio file is posted to the lodge website and emailed as a link to every member. The day after stated meeting, I give a broad update for the month ahead. Each of the next three weeks is dedicated to one of the pillars.

Closing thoughts

  • Short-term progress: The pillar chairs have committed to accomplishing their specific goals by the end of the year.
  • Long-term legacy: The development of a lodge is a living breathing thing. It’s ongoing. That’s why these pillars must be able to evolve as the lodge evolves.
  • Overlap with statewide initiatives: Elements of the fraternity’s statewide strategic plan are definitely encompassed in the personal growth, lodge growth, and community pillars of our lodge’s plan. It happened naturally.

Up until this point, when someone on the street asked, “What does your lodge do?” I think our members would fumble for an answer, or each would give a different answer. This plan establishes our identity.

For more information, contact Wil Smith.

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HOW-TO: Implement your lodge's strategic plan

Once you’ve committed to put a lodge strategic plan in writing, the real work begins. Here are 12 tips for achieving the goals you’ve set.

  • Assign a manager to every priority area. This member will not single-handedly complete the goals under his priority, but he is accountable for seeing that they get done.
  • Ask:Who has the time and interest to spearhead this goal?
  • Regular updates. Every month or two, check in with priority managers.
  • Ask: What progress has been made on your goals? If none, why?
  • Ask: Do you have adequate resources (money, volunteers, lodge support) to achieve the goals?
  • Set deadlines. Establish a timeline for every goal, and emphasize the importance of sticking to it. That said, if a goal is not complete in time, revise the deadline - do not let it simply slip off the radar.
  • Ask: Will the goal be achieved on time? If not, why?
  • Huddle up. Every few months, schedule a meeting of priority managers and lodge leaders. Review the original plan, share progress updates, and discuss new action steps, if any.
  • Ask: Are the goals and objectives still realistic?
  • Ask: How can we improve future planning meetings?
  • Reward success. Celebrate strategic plan milestones. Even a simple announcement and round of applause will boost morale and keep the lodge motivated.

Don’t have a lodge strategic plan yet? Read this How-To article and try this list of strategic planning questions.

Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Implement your lodge’s strategic plan in the subject line.

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Where are you going?

Strategic planning, whether it’s for a lodge or for a business, boils down to two things: Determining where you want to go, and deciding how to get there. Neither is simple.

To organize your thoughts or jump-start strategic planning, try these questions.

  • Where have we been?
  • Where are we now?
    • What is our purpose?
    • Why were we founded?
    • Why do we exist now?
    • What are our core values and beliefs?
    • What are we really committed to?
    • What are our strengths?
    • What are our weaknesses?
    • What are our opportunities for growth?
    • What are our threats?
  • Where should we go and why?
    • What do we want to do/achieve?
    • What do we want to preserve?
    • What we do want to avoid?
    • What do we want to eliminate?
    • What values will guide the work that we do?
    • What obstacles are in the way of realizing our vision?
    • What can we be best at?
    • In what ways are we unique?
    • What do we want to look like in five to 10 years? (This is your vision.)
  • How will we get there?
    • What must we do long-term to reach our vision?
    • How will we know if we’re successful?
    • Do these strategies build our reputation?
    • Which of our goals can we accomplish in years one and two?
    • Which of our goals require five years?
    • What will we do in the next three months, six months, and so on to implement our plan?
    • How will the plan be disseminated and to whom?
    • How much money, resources, and time are we willing to commit?
    • How will we monitor the plan and assess our progress?

For more strategic planning instructions, read this How-To article.

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Intacct implementation plan

Last year, as part of the strategic plan initiative to improve resources for lodge finance, administration, and building management, Grand Lodge rolled out Intacct - an accounting and reporting solution that will simplify processes for lodges and hall associations.

The Intacct system has been beta tested by more than 50 lodges and is now ready for all lodges and hall associations to begin implementation in 2013.

Enrolling in Intacct

Enrolling in and learning to use Intacct is a fairly quick and simple process. All Intacct resources are located in the secure Member Center at freemason.org. Log in to the Member Center, then visit Member Center > Resources and Publications > Intacct Resources.

To enroll in Intacct, complete the following steps, in order:

  1. Log into the Member Center at freemason.org and complete the Intacct Test Site Sign Up Form. Return the form either by email (intacct@freemason.org) or fax (415/776-7170, Attn: Intacct Team). Once your form has been processed, you will be able to access the Intacct test site.
  2. View the eight pre-recorded Intacct training videos, located in the secure Member Center. (Total viewing time for all videos is about 2-hours.)
  3. Attend a training session. Choose at least one of the options listed below:
    1. Two-hour live webinar from 9:00-11:00 a.m. on Feb. 15, April 16, June 11, or Aug. 20
    2. One-to-one training call with one of the Grand Lodge Intacct Team members
    3. In-person training (To be held throughout the state, dates and locations TBD)
  4. Submit your Dec. 31, 2012 trial balance to the Grand Lodge Intacct Team; they will upload the trial balance to Intacct in order to establish a clean starting point for your 2013 transactions.
  5. Complete and submit the Intacct Use Agreement Form. Once received and processed, you will gain access to the “live” site.

Ongoing support

The Grand Lodge Intacct team is available by phone (415/292-9170) and by email (intacct@freemason.org) during normal business hours. There is also an interactive support “University” on the Intacct system, and Intacct provides customer support on evenings and weekends. In addition to initial trainings, the Grand Lodge Intacct Team will host quarterly live webinars beginning in March.

Hall association access

The Intacct system is now available for all hall associations. The hall association enrollment process is the same as the process for the lodges. Enroll today!

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Reminder - Masonic cemetery survey

In last month's issue of The Leader, we explained the purpose of the Masonic Cemetery Task Force and let you know to expect a survey regarding your lodge’s cemetery properties.

If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to complete this brief survey to help ensure your lodge’s cemetery properties will endure for generations to come.

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Resources

By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

Last month, we introduced a Masonic Senior Outreach Services guide for lodge leaders. We continue the series this month with an essential guide to Masonic Family Outreach Services.

You’ve already received several resources related to this branch of Masonic Assistance, including an informational flyer and a Trestleboard article reminding members of their benefits. This guide combines and consolidates those materials.

This month: MFOS guide

View, share, and present to fellow officers as a PowerPoint, or print and save as a reference.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has expanded Masonic education within the past five years. Of the 138 who responded:

54% - Yes
38% - No
8% - Don't know

Among those who said yes, 38 percent created an entirely new Masonic education program.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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