Yesterday I watched the Chicago marathon and like most fans lining the route, my thoughts turned to…development. Ok, perhaps I need to broaden my interest,s but the annual race in Chicago really served as a great metaphor for good development work. You can not wake up one day and run a marathon. It takes careful planning and hard work building stamina and endurance. More than that, it takes others to help you train, to pace and push you and help you toward your goal. As it is preparing for marathons, so it is building a strong development program. Like training for a marathon, building a strong development office requires a commitment. Once achieved, it takes careful planning and hard work. The training/program building next needs a “critical eye”. What are we doing right? What doesn’t work? How can we get better? At this time a team comes in handy. This team can take many forms–it could be a group of colleagues, volunteers or fellow employees. Working together these groups push each other to get the best out of each individual. They ask the hard questions. They bring other perspectives, They ask “Why?”
A strong development program is built over time just like a marathoner. Time, work, and a critical eye are necessary for success. As you look to build or improve your program, do so as if you are training for a marathon. A sprint will provide more exciting results quicker, however they can not be sustained over long distance. Build your program as if your organization will be there for the long-haul.