By Cameron Reid – JCI Scotland Strategic Director 2017
In May 2017 I attended the 3-day Growth and Development Academy in Lörrach, Germany, run by the JCI European Development Council. As a Strategic Director of JCI Scotland, as well as JCI Scotland National Conference Director for 2017, I wanted to attend to help develop myself through the Academy and take the tools and skills developed back to JCI Scotland to take the organisation forward.
I wanted to learn and develop several things from the Academy. Firstly, I wanted to learn tools and skills in order to understand how to attract new members into JCI as well as retaining existing members. I felt that I needed to expand my knowledge about JCI and how it operates, and the connection between local and national organisations as well as national and international. This was an opportunity to experience the ‘international’ side of JCI abroad for the first time and meet JCI members from all over Europe, develop how I can get engaged with JCI, and lastly to step outside my comfort zone and develop public speaking skills – something I have been working on through many training events JCI Edinburgh has put on.
When the whole group arrived, I was not disappointed. The Academy immediately got us to get to know each other through team-building activities. We went on to finding out more about JCI; what it is, how it was founded, the statistics, and the global impact. It was good to go over this first as we learned that having a clear and consistent message across JCI about JCI is important to help recruit new members, making everybody clear to help manage expectations.
Then came learning about the Active Citizen Framework and going through each step (Analyse, Develop, Execute, and Review) in depth, and how that can relate back to our local and national organisations. We went onto discussing “Where to Start” in setting up, or developing a local organisation using the Active Citizen Framework and how to put it into practice. It involved identifying the community, connecting with community stakeholders, engaging with young community leaders, uniting the active citizens, and then building a JCI local organisation which is sustainable and impactful – something I found especially interesting and relatable.
The next module was on creating an environment which is right for the people. The key message which came out of this was ‘Why’. Why is the person interested in JCI? Why is the person in JCI? Why might someone be interested in joining? Ensuring these questions are asked allow you to help them to understand JCI more and what it can do for them, and how they can help shape it- allowing it to be the right environment for them.
Finally for the day, we went onto the key roles and administration that takes place in JCI local and national organisations- showing the connection between both, and then how that connects to the international level. We were then assigned an ‘overnight assignment’ where we were assigned groups and worked together on putting the theory we learned over the day into developing a Plan of Action.
The next day, over breakfast, our group continued to work on our Plan of Action. At 9am, we then started the next module. This was around strategic planning; how to carry out a SWOT analysis, communicating our strategy, implementing it, and evaluating it. We also spoke about developing a vision, brand, and values for our organisations – all of which fits into the wider JCI mission, vision, and values.
Other core modules we developed included speaking about how to motivate our members through engagement and recognition, engage with projects and activities, finding out who are members are, recruiting and retaining members, marketing and promotion, communication, and developing partnerships.
We then got back into our groups and continued to develop our Plan of Action. We had to develop a name and theme around our presentation- our name was the “Dream Captains” which was focused around the theme of our JCI local organisation fulfilling people’s dreams and being able to help shape and develop their lives through us and JCI.
The following morning, each group had to present their Plan of Action to the rest of Academy, including 5 judges. The judges consisted of the European Development Council chairperson, the assistant chairperson, 2 of the academy trainers, and Chiara Milani- the 2013 JCI World President. Chiara also attended part of the academy helping to answer some of our questions about JCI.
After all 5 groups did their presentation, our group was announced as the winner. The prize? The opportunity to present at the General Assembly during the JCI European Conference. The General Assembly is where all the national presidents and international executives gather to discuss issues affecting JCI Europe and national organisations. Having the opportunity to present at this was great to step outside of my comfort zone, but in a safe environment. Public speaking skills was a skill I wanted to develop and being able to get this opportunity really did help with this.
In summary, the JCI Growth and Development Academy was a fantastic opportunity for me to develop myself through skill development, international networking, and going outside my comfort zone. I was also able to bring many of the skills and tools developed back to JCI Scotland and implement this on a national level, as strategic director and national conference director. Through developing our plan of action, we can take the theory we have learned and implement it back into our national and local organisations. It is now a mission for me in JCI to develop a local organisation, using the tools and skills developed during my time at the Academy. This will help JCI Scotland grow and develop and help make the organisation sustainable and continue to be impactful.