Nov 07 2008

Victories of the Heart: STRATEGIC RETREAT November 6, 2004 Selected Action Plan Proving One Unified Leadership Development Team

These selected excerpts from the 2004 Strategic Plan written by the retreat’s facilitators clearly show the plan was to have one leadership group remaining in control of all development and selection authority for new leaders and programs, with an evolution to a joint Board Leader group.

After May 2005, the original leaders abandoned the letter and spirit of this 2004 Plan after manipulating the leadership and assuming the inactivity of the other leaders.

Personally, I never understood the original leaders had left the original leader team, never to come back for at least a year. It wasn’t until it became clear the consensus Board-Leader Strategic Plan action plan to develop a UNIFIED small group facilitator’s training was being DERAILED by them about a year and a half later.

I worked with the small group facilitator task force and wrote the document, reviewed and voted on by the once unified leader team of 8, and ratified by the Board. This document was presented as a basis for training.

What happened? I and the other leaders were invited to a small group facilitation training being sponsored by the Wisdom years. I didn’t go, but heard it was awful.

Did it lead to anything else? No. Why? It was haphazard and self-centeredly developed. I am guessing here, but think it possible the original leaders thought of themselves “winning some competition” with the rest of us 3 leader teams of 6 men.

This guess of mine is not too far fetched. Later when I began to try to hold these leaders accountable, one wrote me a long email in which he basically put the Breakthrough leaders down with some comment like, “you guys haven’t done anything to develop new Breakthrough leaders…” It was a pretty shocking statement, among other shocking statements.

I have the email, so can document this is what was said. I really don’t care if anyone else is concerned. I am setting the record straight and it’s important to me.

Anyway, the relevant excerpts from the formal record of the 2004 Strategic Plan makes it clear enough. The men who devoted many hours developing the 2004 Strategic Plan, the volunteer Board of Directors, and 6 of the leadership team of 8 wasted their time and money.

The organization could have had a successful group training by now, nearly 5,000, I mean 6 years later.

Maybe, even the Wisdom years would be able to live up a little more closely to its hype and not struggle for participants in Chicago. The Boston debacle would not have happened, or would have been successfully done later.

The Shadow weekend would be a very different program, maybe have its own DVD, mentioned on another leaders Psychology today site, instead of ignored, and I would be supporting it, not encouraging it to be eliminated.

Certainly, there would not have been the embarrassing tequila on the genitals, nudity and silence and other bad program ideas.

VOH principals used the saying “if you always do what you’ve done…” so much it really became very irritating.

However, what it means is it’s extremely important to learn from history and not make the same mistakes.

This is the systemic problem in VOH…making the same mistakes over and over. I heard there is another “task force” to study the small group facilitation problem…a problem nearly 5,000, I mean (I’m poking fun at the totals on the website) 30 years old…with plenty of written history..such as right below and the entire Strategic Planning report and related documents.

I have warned these task force members in my writing about this…beware of wasting your time..if the original leader doesn’t like what you do, which is likely, it will go nowhere.

In VOH, compliance, blind loyalty has always been rewarded. Critics get deep-sixed, so be sure you can sleep in deep water.

Here are the excerpts:

November 6, 2004



A. Program Development Process:

1. Ideas to develop new programs would be presented to the Weekend Leadership Group, which will offer input and make a decision.
2. This decision will be presented to the Board for input.
3. The Weekend Leadership Group will have veto power over decisions on Program Development.

ACTION PLAN: As discussed and agreed to on Retreat.

C. Stabilizing Weekend Leadership Meetings

Weekend Leadership meetings have been too few and irregular. Because VOH has a bimodal power structure with the Board and Weekend Leaders responsible for separate functions in the organization, it is important for Weekend Leadership Meetings to take on a more regular schedule. Monthly meetings were recommended. Board members said it is important to them to know that the Weekend Leaders are meeting.

ACTION PLAN: Kurt Schultz will take responsibility for following up with the Weekend Leadership Group.


Up to now, the selection of weekend leaders has been a top-down process in which current leaders have selected weekend participants in whom they see potential. This was criticized as a process that did not provide for men wishing to step up and participate in training on their own initiative. Beginning a more formal training program would require a model for teaching the skills necessary to facilitate Heartwork. Other problems discussed included the Spirit of Generosity program, and the lack of training for Keep-it-Up leaders. The goal of a new Leadership Training initiative would be to ensure the continuity and quality of the VOH weekend experience, while allowing for innovation.


A. Develop policy and procedure that specifies a path for leadership training
B. Specify skills necessary for Heartwork facilitation, and initiate a forum for teaching those skills
C. Rethink the Spirit of Generosity program
D. Increase training for Keep-it-Up leaders
E. Ensure that the new model of leadership training allows for men to volunteer rather than just being chosen for that role
F. Evaluate the practice of maintaining fixed leadership teams versus mixing up the teams

Paul Kachoris volunteered to pursue this program with the Weekend Leadership Group.

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