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In working to scale my Rotary Club’s fundraising efforts I’ve approached it as I would an assignment to increase performance and productivity in a business.

The first step is to know what the real problem is. There are a lot of techniques to find the real problem and one of the most effective (for an owner) is to have a dialogue with somebody who knows the right questions to ask and won’t accept platitude answers. And this “somebody” is the key to my next point.

Trying to do this on your own is like trying to win the Super Bowl with a great quarterback but no linemen, receivers or defense. It’s a team effort and my first step with my Rotary Club was to put together an “A” team. This group of members was concerned, smart, willing to help and willing to help motivate the troops.

I picked my team based on experience, presence and creativity. I made sure to include a couple people who are up and coming to develop future leadership. This is as you should do in your business, always be developing talent. Like “Mission Impossible,” they got a mission and were willing to accept it.

One of our first strategies was to seek feedback from as many involved parties as possible; similar to a 360o degree feedback program. My “A” team was the first to participate in this process and provided the base of ideas to create a structure for fundraising growth.

The next step was to conduct seven brainstorming sessions for all the members to attend. We had fantastic response and more ideas that I could ever have imagined. Of course, just like in a business, the person suggesting the idea will be its champion and be on the team to implement that idea. But that implementation will be like trying to get wild horses on the same trail if there’s no structure and this is solved with my next point.

We formulated a strategy. The “A” team wrote our version of a business plan for this event. In this case, it started by creating 16 teams of about eight members each. The team approach provides a captain (like a department manager), some peer pressure to be involved and a bit of competition on the way to overall team success.

Can your company say the same? Or do you feel your day is trying to corral those wild horses? By the time you get most of them rounded up you’re exhausted and can’t remember why you wanted them all in the same place.

The team approach works. Not only does it build excitement but also there is buy-in as to the overall mission. In those seven brainstorming sessions we heard the same ideas many times and that will reinforce the buy-in given how many groups suggested the same strategy.

The final step is implementing and when you’ve done the thorough job of preparation, as outlined above, implementation is a lot smoother than just formulating an idea and telling people (club members in my case; employees in a business) to do it.

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