‘If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got’ was the motto the workshop ‘Awaken the vision’ started off with. The idea behind this slogan was that when you continuously take the same road, you will keep ending up in the same place instead of moving forward to a better or different place. This goes for AEGEE antennae and projects, as well as for individuals in general. Together with approximately 25 participants we explored how strategic planning can be used in order to find a different road and end up in a better place as an AEGEE local.
After a short introduction with names and games, the basics of strategic planning were explained: terminology and essential questions. Four questions form the basic inquiries for your strategic plan. You start by establishing where you are now as a local. This can be done, as was suggested by a group of participants, by making a SWOT-analysis – by mapping your local’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. After this you question where you want to go. This will be your vision and mission, your long-term idealistic goals and your fundamental purpose as an organisation. Once you have established that, you inquire how you will get there – which aims, objectives and actions you need in order to reach your mission and potentially your vision. Especially the aims and objectives need to be formulated in a SMART way, meaning that they have to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. All these elements combined will result in a perfect strategic plan.
The case study during the second part of the workshop provided participants with an opportunity to put their newly acquired skills into practice. It was their task to work in groups and create a strategic plan for “AEGEE-Awesome”. They were provided with some background information on the local and its surroundings, as well as the aim of the local. The presentations of the different strategic plans showed that the participants had not only grasped the basic tenets of strategic planning, but that they were also interested in discussing approaches to the planning process. Due to time constraints the latter unfortunately could not happen. All proposals, however, could account for approval to a varying degree amongst the groups.
All in all, the workshop can be considered a success – all participants left with a feeling of satisfaction and comprehension, understanding the basics of strategic planning and being willing and able to share that knowledge with the people at home. The vision was definitely awakened.
Written by E.G., AEGEE-Leiden, and Mayri Tiido, member of the Health4you(th) project