Strategic Planning for Your Year in the East (2019)

You’ve just been elected Worshipful Master of your lodge. You’ve done time at the Warden positions (hopefully), your lodge is confident in your abilities, and now you’re getting ready to step up. Are you scared? Over-confident? Somewhere in the middle? Are you and your officers on the same page? Do you have a plan?

Having just completed my fourth consecutive term as a Worshipful Master, I can assure you that the job will be much easier if you utilize the training programs organized by Grand Lodge, the technology lessons of Hiram’s Edge, and the advice of your Past Masters and Masonic Mentors. I recommend that you:

  1. Attend Master’s Path
  2. Take the Secretary and/or Treasurer’s Training
  3. Watch the Hiram’s Edge lessons on:
  4. Make a “call list” of Past Masters and Masonic Mentors
  5. Read my blog regularly

Master’s Path – Creating a Plan for your Year in the East

If you’ve taken the “suggestions” of your District Deputy and the Past Masters who came before you, hopefully you’ve already attended at least one Master’s Path. If this is your first, change that cycle next year. Make a plan for you, your Senior Deacon, and both of your Wardens to attend Master’s Path in 2019.

I recommend, at some point in that four year training cycle, that your officers take both the Secretary and Treasurer training programs. Even if they are not going to hold one of those jobs, as Master they should know what they involve.

To enhance the Master’s Path experience, the team at Grand Lodge provides online resources at These resources include pdf versions of all Master’s Path materials, a downloadable copy of the book “Duties and Responsibilities of Lodge Officers and Committee Chairmen,” and Lodge of Instruction.

Combine all of these tools and you’ll be able to create a sensible and effective strategic plan for your term in the East. Incorporate the task list outlined in the Grand Master’s Award and you might just have a spectacular year.

Most Worshipful Paul Gleason

That’s a lot so far. What’s missing?

At this point I’d like to express my gratitude to RW Steve Cohn, editor and compiler of the “Duties and Responsibilities” book and Master’s Path presenter of “The Business of Freemasonry.” Each of these is a tremendous resource for you as you assume the East, but both could use an additional component. Can you guess what that is?

Technology education is the “missing piece” I’m referring to. I was at Master’s Path on Saturday and heard statements like, “Make sure you have a website”, “Use email to communicate”, and “Be careful with social media.” These are all great points, but the “how to” is not covered. We need to add that.

“Duties and Responsibilities” was first published in December 2006. To put that in perspective, Facebook was launched on February 5th, 2004, Twitter hit the scene in July 2006, and Instagram didn’t post their first image until October 2010. When our book was written, there was no way of knowing what these platforms would become.

As Worshipful Master, you will need to understand and explain the communication value and the potential pitfalls of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Are you prepared for that? Read the Social Media Code of Conduct to learn more.

To be clear, this is by no means a criticism of the work of my predecessors. It’s simply an observation that the world has changed. Happily, I have been assured by the organizers of Master’s Path that we will be adding technology education modules next year.

I have offered my personal expertise and the resources of Hiram’s Edge to assist with this arduous undertaking. Be sure to read my blog regularly so you don’t miss any important updates on Master’s Path and other Masonic Education activities.

And now for something completely different …

Before you begin this exercise, study and complete all of the planning components of Master’s Path. The steps that follow here are meant to enhance your planning by utilizing technology, not replace existing Masonic education.

For those of you who were confused by the LOI lesson last month, it was called “Value Proposition” and was adapted from a post I wrote in January called “The Branding Brilliance of Hamburger University.” You should read that before going any further. Email me if you have any questions or comments you’d like to share.

Creating a value proposition is an important component in the “Identity” portion of “Community, Identity, and Purpose,” our three main LOI topics for the first half of 2018. It is also part of this lesson, so you’ll need to understand the concept.

Once you complete that task, watch the video below:

Erica Olsen is the COO and a co-founder of OnStrategy and the author of Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies, 2nd Edition. She holds a BA in Communications, an MBA in International Management, and has developed and reviewed hundreds of strategic plans for public and private entities around the world.

Let’s go through what Erica just told us, step by step, as it relates to your job as Worshipful Master. Watch the video again if you need to. I replayed it a dozen times as I was writing this article. There’s a lot here to digest.

1) Creating an Articulated Plan

What are your primary goals for your year in the East? Do you want to win the Grand Master’s Award? Is there a specific number of Masons you want to raise? What about finances? Do you have a plan to keep the lodge solvent?

Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Once completed, take that list and open up a Google Doc. Paste the list in, add a paragraph or two explaining what your vision for the year is, then share it with the rest of the lodge.

Read my article on Community, Identity, and Purpose for instructions on how to use Google Docs. If you’d prefer another tool, read my Online Collaboration article.

2) Strategic Differentiation

Competitors of Freemasonry

Are there other fraternal organizations operating in your community? Some of your Masonic brothers may belong to the Legion, the Kiwanis, or the Elks. You may even see a few Knights of Columbus in our ranks. How are they different from Freemasons?

It seems like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many Masons simply don’t know. As Worshipful Master you should study these other groups. We’re competing for a man’s “free time”. Why should he spend that with us?

This is the part of the lesson where your lodge value proposition becomes important. You cannot provide a proper differentiation analysis without understanding exactly what your lodge brings to the table. What’s your value in the community?

3) Organizational Engagement

By the time you get to this step you should have an articulated plan and a differentiation analysis for all fraternal organizations meeting in your community. Now you need to get all the brothers in your lodge on board.

The monthly communication is of course the best venue for open discussion, but summer is coming. How do you keep everyone in the loop as you plan through the summer? Best answer? Use your communication tools.

Your email marketing software and internal (closed) Facebook group are two of the best ways to “stay in touch” when lodge is not in session. Last summer I had weekly barbecues at my house – email invites and pics on Facebook.

Just because we’re going dark doesn’t mean we don’t stay active. Set small summertime tasks for each of your members and reward them with recognition on your group communications. That way you hit the ground running in September.

4) Organizational Transformation

As a member of the Grand Lodge Training Committee I have been blessed with the opportunity to do service work with a number of men who share a common vision about the transformation of Freemasonry. Our values will not change, nor will our ritual, but the way in which we recruit, train, and retain our members will improve.

Part of your responsibility as a Worshipful Master will be to take part in LOI and encourage your officers and members to do the same. In addition to our normal LOI schedule, we’ll also be offering more online training next year.

This will be the next step of our transformation as a fraternity. What can we do to improve our retention numbers? How can we do better? Our leaders have been asking these questions all year. You’ll see our answers in the new education modules. Would you like to give us your input? Use the form below to send in your feedback.


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