Retreats, Workshops Can Help
Councils Plan for the Long Term
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
Whether it’s scheduling meetings or preparing for
special events such as ship commissionings,
awards ceremonies or fleet week celebrations, planning is part of what every Navy League council does as
a matter of course. But when it comes to dealing with
operational or internal issues, such as council management and leadership philosophy, goal-setting or mission definition, more in-depth, longer-term planning
can come into play.
To tackle these kinds of concerns, some councils
hold annual or bi-annual special planning sessions in a
workshop or retreat-like setting that offer the opportunity for leadership to reflect, critique and determine a
course for the future.
In January, Savannah, Ga., Council board members
met for an all-day planning workshop to review the
council’s accomplishments since its first workshop two
years earlier, as well as set some new goals. It also
served as an educational and motivational session for
the council’s six new board members, according to
President James W. Keller.
The workshop was conducted by Navy League Senior
Director of Regional Activities William Waylett, who typically conducts three to five planning sessions a year with
councils across the country. They are available in several
formats that include strategic planning, a review of council officer and board member responsibilities, and annual planning and goal-setting, or a combination thereof.
The Savannah workshop combined, among other
things, goal-setting and the board/officer presentation
with an “environmental scan” that weighed the council’s resources and capabilities with the external environment in which it operates to ascertain whether new
initiatives are needed for the council.
“It gave us a chance to discuss things that we’ve done
that were successful and look at what we’ve been doing
to see if they are the kinds of things that we should be
doing,” Keller said. “This is a learning process for all of
us. I’m happy we did it a second time.”
The council’s first workshop in 2007 was an internal
exercise, conducted without the participation or involvement of Navy League headquarters. At the time,
two of the Savannah Council’s longtime leaders had passed away and
the organization was at a crossroads
as new leadership sought a way forward, Keller said.
“We had to decide whether we
wanted to sink or swim,” he said.
“We decided we were going to try
to swim, and that’s what we’ve
been able to do.”
The council has been shifting
more of its focus to area service
units and reorienting its thinking,
Keller said, to “how best to help the
people we need to help. If we can
continue to do that we can attract
younger members, bring young,
energetic talent to our council,”
which is good not only for the organization’s future but for the service
members it supports.
The Camden-King’s Bay, Ga.,
Council board will be holding its
first planning retreat in June or July,
after its new officers are sworn in,
Atlanta-Metropolitan Council President Charles M. McCleskey, left, and Don Giles,
the council’s vice president, Legislative Affairs, right, accept a Navy League
Outstanding Council award on behalf of the council from National President J.
Michael McGrath during the 2008 Navy League National Convention. The council is looking to schedule a planning retreat later this year to help educate new officers, provide a refresher for older ones and define new priorities and objectives.