Posted by Craig on September 14, 2017 1:18 pm
Published on behalf of the Board of Directors
Keeping an organization this size running smoothly every week is no small feat, but there's an equally important duty that the Board members of the VUL undertake, and that's determining the long-term strategic objectives of the league.
Every five years, our organization comes up with a new 5-year plan, and the current one, Strategic Plan 2021, just started this year. Our last plan was focused on growing the number of people in Metro Vancouver playing satisfying, spirited ultimate to 8,000 players starting from 6,000, and we skyed that goal, ending up with an estimated 10,000 players in total. (We counted players of all ages, and youth ultimate really took off.)
For our new plan, starting in mid-2015, we gathered feedback from players, volunteers, staff and board members, and re-imagined the goals of the organization. We also dove deeper than last time and examined our Vision and Mission, which had been unchanged since the establishment of the VUL several decades ago.
Through a lot of hard work and wordsmithing, we ended up with three major outcomes: A new Vision statement, an updated Mission statement, and Strategic Plan 2021.
We presented the new plan at the Annual General Meeting in November 2016. Here's a summary and explanation of where we hope to see the VUL go in the next five years. If you want, you can view the complete plan.
Building a Plan
We started by forming a clearer idea of what matters to us and our members: why we play, why we volunteer, why and how we want to see this sport grow. What was our vision for the future?
Vision: "We envision a future where ultimate is the leading recreational sport. We want everyone involved to have fun, develop skills and character, live healthier lives, and build lasting relationships through spirited ultimate. We aspire to be a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable society, committed to excellence, and a model and resource for other organizations."
We then took our Mission and reworked it to be explicit about what we try to accomplish, day-in and day-out. The Mission is the answer to the question: "Oh, so what does the VUL do to help achieve the Vision?"
Mission: "Ultimate is our way of bringing joy into people’s lives. We organize, promote, teach, and support spirited ultimate in Metro Vancouver for participants of all ages, genders and abilities. We collaborate with other organizations to foster the growth and development of the sport. We are guided by Spirit of the Game in everything we do."
With those in mind, the Strategic Planning Committee worked to figure out what we should do, and what we could do, if we put our minds and hearts and resources to it. For 2017-2021, the VUL will be focusing energy and resources on four PILLARS that we believe are critical for the league's stability and future growth. Here's what they are and why they are important:
Why is it important? Because young players represent the future of our league and our sport, and if we don't do our part to ensure there is satisfying, safe and spirited ultimate for youth, the long-term sustainability of our league and sport may suffer, and youth may learn the sport in ways that don't emphasize the same principles and playing styles that make the VUL so successful and enjoyable.
What are we going to do? We're working to ensure youth ultimate is taught and played with Spirit of the Game, and youth players learn from qualified coaches and instructors. And, we're making sure that kids know that ultimate is a fun sport to be played all through life, not just in school. This will ensure that the league will continue to have new players, unlike some other sports whose participation drops noticeably as players age.
Why is it important? Because this is the core of what we do, and because our players are also our volunteers, captains, supporters and friends.
What are we going to do? The last strategic plan was focused on growth without losing satisfaction. The next five years, we're going to flip that, and maximize member satisfaction while maintaining or growing membership. It's not that our quality has slipped; rather, it's that we think that by focusing on quality, we can delight our members and achieve better long-term growth and stability. Related to that (and also echoing the youth goals), we're going to work hard to develop the VUL into a life-long community. This is already evident in many ways, but we want to do even better when it comes to supporting historic teams, providing ultimate for folks of a range of ages, fitness levels, and other characteristics.
Pillar: Regional Support
Why is it important? For a couple reasons: Because folks shouldn't have to drive a long way to find ultimate, because field space is not unlimited in Vancouver, and because we believe folks who move out of Vancouver proper should still have access to high quality ultimate.
What are we going to do? We plan to support the development of several viable and spirited leagues around Metro Vancouver -- and that could take shape in many forms, from an advisory role, to organizational support, to providing resources or tools, to running leagues in other cities. We will be further developing this Pillar in the coming years.
Why is it important? By virtue of our size, we're already being looked at as an example of what (or what not) to do as ultimate grows in popularity world-wide. We also feel that we have a responsibility to act in a sustainable, progressive way, and to set a standard that other leagues and organizations can adopt.
What are we going to do? The thing about being a leader is that it's hard to spell out the next five years of steps to take; it's kind of like saying "We'll invent several things over the next 5 years." However, our general goals are to:
- Promote & improve inclusivity and gender equity
- Demonstrate thought leadership and share knowledge and experience
- Execute pioneering ideas and initiatives that have a positive community, social, or environmental impact
In addition, the Strategic Plan 2021 has 6 Foundations which support all of the pillars: Spirit, high quality facilities and fields, effective communication, mutually-beneficial collaboration, reliable staff and HR structures, and of course, good governance. Each year we'll invest in those foundations to ensure we can support the objectives of our Pillars.
At our Annual General Meeting this fall, we'll discuss how the Plan is progressing. Don't miss it!
If you're interested in helping us achieve these goals or having a say in the future growth of the sport, consider getting involved! Opportunities include:
- Applying for a job or volunteer position (see the Jobs page)
- Joining a committee like the Strat Plan Committee (see the Jobs page)
- Running for the Board of Directors. Read the Board FAQ, and plan to attend the AGM on November 15. Full details will be posted by early October.