As you know, I joined the Special Olympics movement last year, well into the 2010-2015 strategic plan timeline. One of the things that impressed me as I learned about Special Olympics was the support within the movement for the plan and the accomplishments achieved towards it, from the expansion of all manner of sports and non-sports programming to the beneficial partnerships that have been cultivated. Strategic planning is critical to the success of any organization, which is why I am excited to be announcing the start of our new strategic planning process that will culminate in our strategic plan for 2016 and beyond.
Over the next 12 months, we will be focused on which strategic outcomes are most important for our movement. We will look at all our programs against those outcomes and seek consensus on which programs could best advance those outcomes. We will be debating the most critical questions that we will face in the years to come, and determining the right path forward for our movement. We will publish drafts of the plan in December this year and again in June 2015 before the World Summer Games in Los Angeles, where we will host our last major consultation, and the final plan will be ready by the end of October 2015. Please see our complete timeline here.
I am asking for your assistance in this complicated but critical task. In order to make it easy for people to share their thoughts and reach as many people as possible, we have established numerous ways that they can tell us what they think. Our door is open to anyone and everyone, regardless of their experience withSpecial Olympics.
Here are the ways that everyone can contribute:
Mission Effectiveness Survey – This survey is available now. It can be taken online here, or it can be printed out, filled out, and returned to us here. It is available to anyone who wants to take it, so we get as many opinions and ideas as possible. If you have not yet completed it, please do so, and ask your athletes, families and volunteers to fill it out too.
Online – We have set up an email address,firstname.lastname@example.org, so anyone can reach our strategic planning team, and we have a Facebook page specifically for athletes, families, coaches, volunteers and members of the public to give input on what Special Olympics should do next. Please use your communication channels and social media platforms to spread the word that we are interested in hearing all opinions about what should be in the new strategy!
Focus Topics – Starting this month, eight work groups consisting of people in and out of our movement will begin working on eight topics of interest to Special Olympics. You can see a full of these topics here. These represent a starting point, not the complete or final list of topics that need to be addressed. You can email@example.com about any of these topics – please know that feedback and ideas from you, or anyone in your Program, are very welcome!
Conferences and meetings – If you or anyone from your Program is attending one of our leadership conferences, or an Athlete Council, Youth Forum or Family Forum, we will be discussing the new strategy at these meetings.
Many Programs around the world have created their own strategies based on our current global strategy, which really got everyone working in the same direction and brought us together as a movement. We want to build on this approach, so even at this early stage I would ask that you please think about how you can ensure your own Program strategy will align with the next global strategy. I am very aware that your Program will have its unique requirements and goals, but there is no doubt in my mind that we are much stronger working together as a movement, aiming for the same goals, sharing resources and knowledge, collaborating to bring the Special Olympics movement forward.
Aside from helping us reach out to your athletes, families and volunteers to get their feedback on the future of Special Olympics, the most important thing you can do is let us know your own opinions. With that in mind, I have two questions I would like you to send me your answers on:
What is the single most important thing you think should be in our next strategy?
For each of the topics we are working on, who is the smartest person you would recommend we should talk to (inside or outside of Special Olympics)?
As we work together on the next strategy, please consider all of us at SOI as a resource – we are here to help, and here to listen. As always, I know I can count on you to contribute the great ideas and feedback that will help all of us improve the lives of our athletes and change the perceptions of people in your communities towards those who have intellectual disabilities.
Thanks for your help and your best thoughts as we move forward.
All the best,
CEO, Special Olympics International