by Benjamin Turconi, California '12
-10 Minute Read-
Someone once said, “Good luck is the result of good planning.” I think there are few who would argue whether or not it is a good idea to plan things in advance. But how many of us actually do it? While we can get by in life without making plans, the key to strong chapter operations – as in any organization – is proper planning. Planning allows us to do far more than just determine the things that we are going to do – it creates possibilities beyond the initial idea.
Planning something together gives ownership to all those involved in process. There are many ways that this ownership is distributed through the planning process. First, individuals can contribute suggestions, which may make the initial plan even better. Second, responsibilities can be parceled out, giving each person a stake in the success of the plan and making the task more manageable to accomplish. At a minimum, all those involved in the planning process know that they could have spoken up if they didn’t rather than just being told, “This is happening.”
The chapter retreat is a practice that all chapters should take part in. While an important aspect of the retreat should be about planning, it also accomplishes a lot more. It is important to take a step back to gain perspective on the organization. This allows you to gain insight into individual members’ strengths and weaknesses, the desires that everyone has for the future of the organization, and a chance to rekindle some of that brotherhood that can be lost in day to day operations. The chapter retreat is essential to any chapter that wants to operate at the highest level of efficiency. They are how you make a good chapter great, and a great chapter even better.
Working with the headquarters, the Purdue chapter held a chapter retreat at the beginning of Fall semester. Plaid, an organizational management firm, administered Birkman personality tests and facilitated the retreat for the chapter. Sometimes it can be invaluable to get an outside perspective and Plaid provided just that. During the retreat, the chapter had the opportunity to learn about each individual’s personalities and how they fit together as a chapter. They also spent time planning out
their goals for the next semester and what path they wanted to be on for the next year (such as increasing their GPA and exemplifying “Human Service”). By the end of the two-day retreat, the chapter understood each other better, had their eyes on their goals for the future, and was ready to work together to accomplish their goals.
Purdue Venerable Dean, Trey Jagiella, had this to say about the change that has occurred:
"It became clear to me early on that the chapter was in dire need of change. While it was hard to implement change at first and I faced many obstacles throughout my first semester, it became easier and easier to get the chapter on the right path. Many of the members that frequently caused problems at the beginning of my term are now actively working with me to create a better chapter."
Since the retreat, the results for Purdue chapter so far have been amazing. They have begun to implement the Cornerstones program in the chapter, held their first philanthropy event in quite some time, improved their GPA, had the most service hours per man of any Greek organization on campus, they have re-started their newsletter The Hourglass, and they have reworked their entire pledge program.
While the work at Purdue Acacia is by no means done, there are good signs of progress. The big takeaway from this experience should be that by doing the work at the beginning to determine where you want to go, everyone will be more inclined to help reach the goal. There is an old African proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” By holding a chapter retreat and a planning session, you can ensure that the chapter can achieve more than what was previously thought possible by having everyone get there together.
Chapter Retreat resources can be found in the Chapter Resources Dropbox or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.