Friday, April 17, 2015

Three Magic Words To Guarantee Buy-in for Strategic Planning

Does the thought of strategic planning almost send you over the edge? Or are you on the flip side of the coin and begging someone in the organization to please, please have a strategic planning retreat before you completely lose your mind?

There's no doubt that in any business there are multiple points of view on which direction to take next, how long before the next sharp curve, where is the next sharp curve, and when do we start? Is the business or team being led by someone who makes decisions on the fly or doesn't make decisions at all? I am a big fan of quick decision-making, and I also like it to be done with confidence and not guesswork. The challenges arise when there has been no long-term planning that maps out the road that will make the vision and mission of the organization more than a dream.

Every business needs to be able to turn on a dime when the opportunity presents itself for new direction that can affect revenues, employees, or the internal culture. Unfortunately, many times decision makers wait until the milk is spilled before putting the cap on the milk carton. The process of strategic planning helps participating key leaders think through the existing and potential challenges and opportunities facing the organization. 

That critical thinking element, effectively facilitated, is what can prepare an organization for the coming years of growth and market leadership. If the business strategy and tactics are not well developed, it will take more resources and time later to understand and fix the consequences of making decisions by the seat of your pants.

Now, I promised three magic words that will make everyone in your business jump on board for strategic planning.  

  1. "Retreat". Strategic Planning Retreat. Who doesn't want to go on a retreat? It's like R & R, a short vacation, and there's food and drink there. And, no suits and ties.
  2. "Away". Strategic Planning Retreats must be held away from the office. No one can retreat at the office. You need a clear head and no interruptions. Away can be a few blocks away or in another state. Away. That's all.
  3. "Facilitated". The retreat will be facilitated by an expert who will make sure everyone is heard, all the bases are covered, the agenda stays on track and on topic, and guarantees you leave on time with a plan in hand.
If strategic planning is in the cards, it's time to pull the trigger and get it on everyone's schedule. Start now by using the three magic words!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maybe this is weird, but I love......old cemeteries.

source: Panoramio

If you're interested in historic places, in particular cemeteries with Confederate graves, here's one way down in south Georgia you may have missed. Read on to the end where you can pick up a great idea to help with restoration.

Last Saturday was a work day for cleanup at the historic West End Cemetery in Quitman, GA. I helped for the first time, and I was so glad I did. This cemetery is a special place to people who grew up in Quitman and attended the schools there as I did. Unfortunately, it has not been well maintained and is in need of restoration and sustainability.

Every year around Memorial Day young students would walk from school to the cemetery carrying flowers brought from home. The children could choose which grave to adorn with their flowers. I always chose the grave of a soldier who shared my birthday. Nearly every person I have a conversation with about the cemetery can tell me about placing those flowers.

The UDC holds a ceremony there each year, and students who are essay winners are recognized. I remember winning one year, then my daughter won when she was growing up. Many others have fond memories of West End Cemetery.

The West End Cemetery was established in 1859 when the Georgia Legislature granted the request to create Quitman as the county seat of Brooks. Many of the town's founders are buried here as well as fourteen unknown Confederate soldiers and veterans of the Civil War.

The cemetery is within the Quitman Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and sits directly on Highway 84/Screven Street. So, if you've ever been through Quitman on that highway, you've driven past this beautiful cemetery.

The cemetery grounds and damaged graves are presently under restoration. There are 463 graves, 135 of which are unmarked. There are 56 Confederate graves.

Surrounded by beautiful, antique wrought iron fencing and gates, West End Cemetery has many Live Oaks, some believed to be several hundred years old, towering as sentry over the graves.

Many local citizens are working on the restoration project. A map is being created by Walter Romine, research by Danny Taylor and John Romine has uncovered interesting stories, and volunteers from the Museum & Cultural Center and citizens are working to clean up the landscape. You may know some of them: Charlotte Jones, Jean Logan, Susan Radford, Charlie and Sandra Ramsey, Betty Harrison, Cindy Dooly, the Boy Scouts and others. And, more help is needed.

One piece of interesting cemetery trivia: Jesse Wade, born in 1794, was buried at West End in 1872. He was a close friend of David Crockett, with whom he frequently hunted in Tennessee. So, as more stories are revealed, West End Cemetery may be a late bloomer for tourism.

The Brooks County Museum and Cultural Center has taken the lead in the restoration project. Make a thoughtful donation to the West End Cemetery Restoration Project. 

To donate, please send your check to:
 Brooks County M&CC, 121 N. Culpepper St., Quitman, GA 31643

Find more pictures on ExploreGeorgia:
Historic West End Cemetery