There are three stages to setting up any new adventure, especially one involving a group of people.
- The idea
- Turning the idea into reality
- Implementing the program
Right now, a team I am involved with is hurtling towards stage 3 and it has been a wonderful journey.
Not everything has been smooth sailing, but most fascinating is realizing the similarities between forming the Dunedin Music Society as a public charity, and just about every other musical ensemble or non-musical program I have witnessed being created.
Here are seven points you might find useful when you find yourself bringing a group of people together for the first time:
- Be flexible. Not everything will go as planned. That means changes will need to be made as you go along. Being flexible is the most effective way to keep the project alive and on the rails. What sort of things may need changing? The Dunedin Music Society has so far experienced changes in the dates of goals and events, the people involved, unexpected interruptions to the development process, and starting multiple tasks several times.
- Work with the best folk you can find. Bringing people together hopefully means including a wide variety of personalities and perspectives. Some folk will agree with everything you say, others will disagree by a matter of discourse. Some folk you will get along with very well, and others you would rather not be so enthusiastic. None of that actually matters. There is a task to be done, and you should ask the person who is likely to get the best outcome in the most efficient and effective manner to do it.
- Let them do their thing. Letting go is difficult, especially if a leader is inexperienced. We like to be in control but if someone else is assigned a task, let them do it. Of course offer assistance, and help them identify whatever resources could get the job done quickly and effectively, but consider this: they may be the expert at that task, and you are not. Don’t get in their way.
- Prepare diligently. There were several options we had in setting up the Dunedin Music Society. One way was to write a short summary in a week and coerce someone else to co-sign it. Instead, I decided to pull together a team of Performers, non-Performers, Professionals and Amateurs, and it took us 18 months to develop a comprehensive list of rules, regulations, and expectations. Doing so has made life so very much easier for those who followed.
- Take swift action. When things are mostly ready, start. There is no need to drag your feet, or to be reckless. It may have taken us 18 months to prepare the DMS’ Constitution and Bylaws, but thanks to that diligent work a Board of Directors was recruited, interviewed, appointed, and the first Board meeting was actually held within a span of two weeks! Would you like to become a Founder of the Dunedin Music Society? Get the details here.
- Stay focused. As people come and go throughout all three stages, new expectations enter the process and perhaps some repetition or interrogation may occur. Especially in today’s technological world, the squirrel phenomenon is rife. Discussions can take unexpected turns and you could lose yourself in a vast rabbit warren of related and seemingly relevant issues. Keep the task at hand in front of you, and stay focused on it. There are things that have to be accomplished, but only a handful of tasks that need to get done now.
- Over-communicate very clearly. No matter what the message, make it concise and make it clear. Everyone who needs to hear that message will do so with different expectations, so be sure to employ every communication technique you can think of. Whether it is your development team, supporters of your idea, peripheral parties who have expressed interest, or those who are brand new to what you are doing, you can never share enough about what needs to get done, and why. Don’t hold back talking to each other!
So far, the Dunedin Music Society has benefited tremendously from experiencing all seven of these points. Doing so is setting us up for a very strong start.
The way we intend to transition from reality (forming the Board of Directors) to getting things going (implementation) is by inviting our circles of influence to become Founders of the society – myself included. On Saturday, March 11 at 2:30pm, we are presenting a variety of live music along with raffle prizes, a silent auction, and an initial appeal for funds: resources to help us setup a visual identity, a membership program, and a whole host of initial expenses.
Without living through the seven points listed above, I doubt whether our club would either be happening at all, or last very long. So far, all the indications are that the Dunedin Music Society will soon be off to a strong start and be around for a very long time to come.