The Pellucid Perspective - December 2013 - (Page 8)

STRATEGIC PLANNING Europe follows US lead EGCOA Vision 2020 Initiative Taking Shape By Jim Koppenhaver A recent headline in one of the golf industry digital newsletters I receive announced the European Golf Course Owner's Association's (EGCOA) strategic initiative launch and initial plans which caught my eye. Anything in the golf industry that discusses strategy, vision or the future is always of interest to me because we're still as an industry very immature in these capabilities or exercises. To be fair, we've not had a lot of experience in this area, but my observation is that we're also not very skilled in strategy, particularly at the industry level, and that's further complicated when trying to accomplish "strategy by coalition." Having the benefit of living through and, to a limited extent, participating in the US version of industry strategic planning (Golf 20/20), I feel relatively qualified to make commentary and offer suggestions to our colleagues across the pond about how they can learn from our decade of experience along this same path. Let's start with some of the similarities between their initiative as outlined in the press release and how the US industry forces approached the long-term strategic plan: * Both initiatives involve a coalition of industry stakeholders who have diverse and somewhat different optimal outcomes * Both have initial roots in research to determine the current condition and the baseline values for their respective key metrics from which growth targets can be projected * Neither entered the process with a formal plan for financial backing and the key element of "who reviews and arbitrates which initiatives should be funded and figures out the critical question of, "Who pays?" The differences between them are somewhat nuanced but worth noting: * The EGCOA initiative is being led by the course owners association whereas Golf 20/20 was a PGA TOUR production which enlisted the help of the major equipment manufacturers, the larger management companies, the PGA of America and the USGA * The EGCOA initiative hasn't (yet) established any big, audacious goals such as Golf 20/20's reach for doubling the golfer base in 20 years * The ECGOA initiative has a much shorter time horizon with its 7 year span and requisite crystal ball as opposed to Golf 20/20's 20 year vision * The ECGOA's version has a much more geographically diverse constituency to unite and govern over (as noted by the 13 national associations which they would like to have participate and shape the outcome) * The ECGOA is getting outside help to lead and manage the effort vs. the Golf 20/20 attempt to have existing 8 The Pellucid Perspective stakeholder organizations delegate people on a voluntary part-time basis to advance the project It seems on the surface that the European version of Golf 20/20 may be a little more grounded in pragmatism and trying to "feed villages" vs. the US golf industry's attempt to "solve world hunger." I don't know whether that's due to a) The Europeans and their leadership possessing less hubris as to what's achievable or b) A lower level of industry politics and higher capacity for collaboration or c) They learned a powerful and painful lesson from our attempts. Regardless, as they shape their upcoming assault on the forces that are stymying growth abroad, I can give them some suggestions and save them time and money from what we learned here in the states: * Get a diverse group of competent people/entities for the key components of strategy, research, planning and execution. Make sure that it includes both dreamers and pragmatists which will facilitate opinions and recommendations across a range of outcomes vs. one institutional point of view that invariably produces the "school solution" * Relax the need for message control. Yes, it makes sense to not have all the various committees off on their own separate tangent and soapbox but in the US version, even from the beginning of Golf 20/20 the research and exploration was choked off repeatedly by the stated and desired outcomes of the "politburo" * Set realistic and quantifiably-supported goals, and don't be afraid to publicly adjust as necessary the milestones and the targets when the intermediate results dictate * Put thoughtful, independent tracking in place to both measure progress and, as importantly, understand what dynamics and metrics are breaking down if the numbers don't follow the roadmap (being optimistic, this also works in the other direction to understand what is working if it's succeeding wildly) * Resource the initiative adequately; it's not realistic to believe that you're going to get good thinking in sync with the project timeline when the resourcing is predominately volunteer labor from within the ranks of the various organizations doing this as their 3rd part-time job My advice while they're at it would be to set up or fund an entity to construct a basic, solid industry information infrastructure which would capture the key metrics of industry health which have eluded the US industry for many years. Today we still have a very patchwork and, in several areas, redundant array of entities and sophistication providing the essential metrics for the industry. For example, neither Pellucid nor the NGF explore on a regular basis the migration of golfers up and down the involvement continuum (i.e. how many golfers who December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - December 2013

The Pellucid Perspective - December 2013
Back to the future for golf course owners
Winds of change blowing in tee time sales world
An “Island” of creative thinking in player development
Europe follows US lead
November golf weather impact: Mother Nature gives golf the “cold shoulder”
Boston, MA: Red Sox nation plays golf too
OB Sports chosen to operate Tucson muni courses
Too tough to chew

The Pellucid Perspective - December 2013