Thursday, May 25, 2006

An Open Source Organization for Reenacting Groups

**Welcome Civil War Books and Authors readers!**

Part IV - Goal Setting

Goal Setting is the next step in creating a group using OSORG. It requires that you already have these things accomplished as per the last installment:

  • Basic vision of what kind of group you want
  • Very basic group mission statement

To recap the last installment on pleminary planning, we established an example group, The Generic North Carolina Confederates or TGNCC for short. Here were my thoughts on the TGNCC:

What I imagine for the TGNCC is an authenticly-minded group who specializes in a North Carolina Confederate impression that spans from the beginning to the ending of the Civil War. The group would be company-sized so as to fit into any larger organization, but look reasonably filled out when doing a specialty impression. In order to maximize the fun for the group, we need to have the ability go Federal at some events, but with the same standard of authencity as the Confederate group.

From that vision, we established a mission statement that reads:

The Generic North Carolina Confederates is a group of reenactors devoted to promoting a devoted and authentic portrayal of North Carolina Confederate soldiers and civilians before and during the American Civil War.

The only change we made between the initial vision and mission statement was to allow for a civilian element in the organization.

We're ready to move to the next stop on the OSORG roadmap, Goal Setting.

OSORG Goal Setting has three aspects, guiding, immediate and long term.

  • Guiding goals are standards set for the group. These goals are what you need to refer to when setting your immediate and long-term goals.
  • Immediate goals are the steps to take your group where it is at now to move it to a predetermined vision in the near future.
  • Long-term goals are different visions that you plan for your group. By using immediate goal setting, you move from one long term goal to the next, within the context of the guiding goals.

Your guiding goals shape your group for the future. Everything your group will do revolves around what you have established in your guiding goals.

To set your guiding goals you'll need to have your basic vision and mission statement handy. The point will be to create guiding goals that reflect what you already see for the group. For TGNCC, we've come up with these guiding goals:

TGNCC have five guiding goals in mind:

  • Give an accurate, authentic, and devoted portrayal of confederate soldiers and civilians,
  • Create quality living history presentations that give a factual and balanced view of North Carolina in the Civil War,
  • Research and make accessible the history of North Carolina regiments and organizations to other reenactors and the general public,
  • Encourage the attendance of history-credible events and living history presentations that hold participants to a higher standard of authenticity, and
  • Help Civil War reenacting to become a hobby once again by de-empathsizing inter- and intra- group politics and introducing group organization and participation at the individual level.

OK, now to break down these goals.

The first two are along the lines of the mission statement and empathsize authenticity and focus on North Carolina, so nothing is questionable or out of line.

The third goal is not exact to the mission statement, but easy to reason. If you do this hobby, naturally you will need to do research. So although not mentioned in the mission statement, posting research for the public is definitely promoting awareness of the group's credibility as being authentic and devoted.

Though the fourth goal is not mentioned in the mission statement, events are another aspect that are easy to reason - they're part of the hobby and assumed. By applying the mission statement to this goal, the group is raising the standard for the events it attends. Since Civil War reenacting offers many events, this guiding goal specifies what type of event the group will attend, weeding out the ones that don't meet criteria.

The fifth goal is the sticky one. The reenacting hobby and its politics were not alluded to in the vision or the mission statement. It can be reasoned though, that the group by example is improving the quality and credibilty of the hobby, therefore enhancing its own quality and credibilty. Also, the goal itself is harmonious with the group's vision and mission statement. OK, a long shot reason, but plausible. It also establishes a guide for the internal workings of the group, which is important. This guiding goal stays in for now.

Now that the guiding goals are established, it's time to say something about immediate goals. As stated before, immediate goals are the detailed steps between the long-term goals. In the case of the ongoing example of TGNCC, the OSORG roadmap is an example of immediate goals setting. You're simply creating a roadmap - or a list logical steps - to arrive at a group vision. Make sure your steps are easily attainable by the group, but don't create so many that your roadmap looks like a bus-stop map! You'll use the guiding goals to prevent any sliding away from the group vision.

Lastly, it's time to set long-term goals. These goals map where your group is going years into the future. These goals detail group growth and activities, and gives group members something to look forward to. It also helps to prevent "been there, done that syndrome".

For TGNCC these long-term goals have been established:

TGNNC's long-term goals include:

  • Establish a functional group centered around OSORG,
  • Raise group membership to fifty active members, both military and civilian,
  • Establish state-wide group representation,
  • Introduce authentic, historically accurate, and consistent living history programs to many North Carolina civil war battlefield parks and historic areas, and
  • Raise money for North Carolina park maintenance, preservation, and restoration.

Although I won't go into detail about each goal, an important rule of thumb when setting long term goals is in most cases, each goal is dependent on the last. In the example above, you must have an organization to raise fifty active members, you must have enough members to be state-wide, you must be state-wide to introduce programs to the parks, and so on.

As always, commit your goals to paper!

NEXT: Part V - Membership and Material Requirements

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