Sometimes the planning process starts with a good yarn, sitting under a tree.
For your planning to be effective, it needs to be treated as an imperative.
Business Planning is a critical part of starting and building a men’s shed. An ad hoc approach is unlikely to succeed. It’s about sitting down with the people of the community and having them understand what is possible and how a men’s shed can be tailored to their wants and need.
It’s about envisioning the future and developing the necessary procedures and operations to achieve that future. A Business Plan is not just a document, the processes the people will go through are just as important, if not more important if you want to build something sustainable.
A Business Plan should be a living document, not something done by external people from above and then put in a drawer to collect dust, which is where 90% on them end up. If the men and women are not involved with the process and it is not a living dynamic document then they will lose interest.
Business Planning is a way to get a men’s shed started on a sustainable footing and is an important tool, not only for structuring and developing the physical men’s shed and getting the men involved but also in securing funding and attracting partners and suppliers. process. It must be designed to source and deliver what the men need to work on their projects
Most people involved with a men’shed will not have had any experience with business planning and therefore little understanding of why it is arguably the most important thing to be undertaken. Even though things like the value chain concept is not well understood it is an important part of the planning process.
With the lack of understanding of a Business Plan and an appreciation of what it takes to produce one that will work, the involvement of the people must be carefully nurtured with them fully committed to the processes involved.
There will be people who offer to do this task for the men’s shed, but again these people generally have insufficient experience outside their own work experience. There is no doubt that people can do various parts of the plan such as provide base information, but the complexity comes in making all the parts fit in such a way that is will be successful. And that always requires the involvement of the men and the community.
“Your efforts in planning a men’s shed can help to bring your problems and frustrations into today so you can do something about them”. Peter Sergeant
While we can offer a completed Business Plan from scratch, this is not the way it should be done. There is no involvement by the men and you finish up with another uninspiring and unworkable top-down approach. The men also miss out on learning what is necessary if they want to start their own businesses along with helping young people to take an interest in what is going on.
Most external people receive little if any training on business planning. If they do it is generally planning as it applies to very large businesses, governments or other organisations and therefore almost impossible to relate to a men’s shed in an Indigenous community.
There have been a lot of changes in the way Business Planning is perceived and carried out by smaller organisations, over recent years. The planning paradigm has changed just as the paradigm for men’s sheds has and is continuing to change. The planning issues are sensitive when we have people operating in different paradigms and trying to solve the same problems.
Because of the many changes that will take place, you may need to focus on Action Research when applying yourselves to the planning processes.
Our approach for Indigenous communities has been to:
- Win the trust and build the confidence of the men, in the concepts presented.
- Conduct an overview of the community, the men and their available resources.
- Meet with the men and listen to their aspirations and show the men new possibilities.
- Draft up with them what they feel they are looking for in the form of objectives.
- Produce the structure of the plan and take it to a level where it will make sense to the men and they can participate in meaningful discussions.
- Start to prioritise all the activities that the men want to get involved with.
- Consolidate the purpose of the men’s shed and structure in the Business Plan
- Flesh out the operational parts of the Business Plan
- Construct an initial Value Chain.
- Write proposals for the required resources.
- Implement the Business Plan.
- Monitor and review progress, seeking to avoid it stalling.
Many of the tasks associated with Business Planning, can, in reality, be done concurrently, but should not be done where it creates confusion.
Another good way to express our approach to a dynamic Business Plan revolves around continuous improvement and the ‘Act, Plan, Do, Check, Act’ cycle, making sure that the men are involved once an initial base document has been set up and objectivity is actually applied to their work.
Whatever approach is taken it is important to remember that Business Planning is a creative process. Business Planning helps to fit all the pieces of the men’s shed and its activities together, in order that they run smoothly and achieve what the men and their community want. The days are gone where situations are stable; change must be part of the business planning process.
Indigenous men, like most men, are not usually good note takers, so the Mensheds Learning modules will provide a basis for learning by ‘spaced repetition’, using both audio and visual.
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We have found it critically important to be able to talk directly with the men and community people involved, not through the prism of other people with their own agenda.
While men’s sheds have been more specifically designed for older men young man should not be overlooked. Young men teach the older men the ways of the modern world, while the older men pass on the wisdom and skills need to build a thriving community.
It’s important to have the younger men involved because they can do some of the heavy liftings and learn more about the skills needed to make a worthwhile project suddenly come into existence. Seeing is believing.
The FAQ Support Helpdesk is equipped to handle such things as additional information, knowledge, tools, processes, checklists, templates milestone tracking, ‘business health checks’, environmental scans and facilitation when and if required. Keep in mind that just throwing how to… manuals and a few tools will not be effective if the men are left without support.