JF Presidents Retreat Dinner Notes by Facilitators
May 20, 2011
Facilitator: Ian Wright
Topic: Went off on a tangent
The JF "change projects" have recently been abolished, from what I hear. The idea is to reestablish that change
project, within the chapter setting, before JFs leave for their placements.
Most JF placements these days have something to do with integrating into a complex office environment and
analyzing the dynamics, barriers, norms, assumptions, processes, etc. within that office environment - then
working to affect change in that framework. Our hypothesis was that affecting change is much the same, no
matter where it is done - there must be a set of fundamentals that are true to any setting.
So the idea is to have JFs find a leverage point within their chapter, and work to create some positive change in
the way things are going. They would have the 4 months prior to departure to make this happen. They could
work with the fellow JF on the project, strengthening that very important relationship between fellow chapter
JFs. They would have total ownership of these projects. They could delegate to chapter members if they see fit.
They would surely encounter lots of challenges, as fellow exec and chapter members are always busy doing
their own thing, without a lot of time to "help" with the project (sound familiar?). They could identify a change
project in early January (work this into the JF day at NC?) then present the idea to their chapter for some
feedback before moving forward with it. There would all sorts of learning opportunities over those 4 months...
chances to document takeaways, coaching opportunities, presentation opportunities... a good toolkit for a JF.
The idea is to practice creating real change in a chapter environment, with total ownership, before going
overseas to do the same thing. As a result, chapter-JF connections could improve hugely, JF accountability to
the chapter could get better, etc.
Facilitator: Amir Allana
Topic: JF’s Knowledge of Strategy
Problems from both sides that prevents strategy-sharing:
People don’t know what to ask
JF’s don’t perceive an interest
JFs have much more to offer than knowledge of overseas programs; but they don’t (discussed below)
Chapter members are afraid of intruding into JF’s space after their return
Ways a President could improve JF sharing:
IDEAL: set up expectation and relationships between the president and the JF before they leave via a
series (more than one) of inclusive discussions
Facilitate a summer discussion with chapter members on “how to ask good questions.” JFs often have
knowledge/insights to offer that they are unaware of until asked specifically. A good
workshop/resource for this would be The Art of Asking Powerful Questions.
In September, sit down with the RJF(s) and discuss, in detail, a knowledge transfer process. Chalk out a
timeline of sharing nuanced, deep overseas experience prolonged over a long (~4-6 month) period
o What this could look like: a series of workshops/discussions: one on gender, one on markets
and business, one on…
During the planning/visioning process, the President could sit down with each exec/leader and discuss
how their team could benefit from understanding the African Programs
Other interesting strategy-related uses for JFs:
JFs are very good at critical analysis and strategic thinking/visioning since they have been exposed to
that in the African Programs. This is an invaluable soft skill to bring back to the chapter. How can JFs be
given the opportunities to use/share them?
JFs are (often) good at coming up with new ideas or small innovations/iterations. Can the chapter
assign JFs with blue-sky ideas/hypotheses they can explore and develop? This attempts to addresses
the “keep JF engaged with the chapter” issue we often see.
Facilitator: Erica Barnes
Topic: Connecting JFs to the Chapter during the Summer
There are various ways for the chapter to communicate with JFs while they are in Africa.
o Entire chapter calling the JF on their cell phone using Skype at a summer chapter meeting
o Individuals calling JF at different times
o Text messaging
o Sending emails – both personally and from the chapter
o Replying to blog posts
o Sending care packages
It is important to recognize that the communication that the JF wants before they start their placement
may be very different than what they want once they are in Africa. This could be due to the headspace
of the JF and/or the ability for the JF to communicate in a certain way (i.e. lack of internet or cell phone
connection). It is therefore important for the president to check in with the JF a couple weeks into their
placement to find out the most effective way for communication to take place.
Connecting the JF to the Chapter over the summer
Incorporating the JF into summer visioning and strategic planning
o Emailing the JF a few weeks before these session happen at the chapter to ask if they have
anything they would like to chapter to discuss or any ideas they would like to present
It can also be important to let JFs know what is happening in the chapter over the summer. This can
allow for the JF to get back into the chapter headspace and may spark ideas or create opportunities for
the JF to connect their placement with the chapter (whether this takes place while they are overseas or
once they return to Canada).
The chapter can play a huge role in motivating the JF to start thinking about their role in Canada.
Sparking ideas by asking questions or presenting opportunities for when they return may get them to
start thinking about how they will share their experience with the chapter and university.
SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT THIS COULD LOOK LIKE:
o “Hey JF, wouldn’t it be neat if we had some more fabric and things from your placement for
that mock village we have each year?”
o “Hey JF, the chapter was talking and we think it would be awesome for you to do a
presentation to our general members in September. Let me know what you think.”
o “Hey JF, our member learning team has this sweet idea for a new project to take on. Do you
have any ideas to pass along to them?”
Having a chapter member (other than the president) being responsible for connecting with the JF –
This could be the member learning, learning partnership or someone who is excited by the opportunity
It may be important to communicate to the presidents what the JFs have talked about in pre-dep (i.e.
this year there has been a focus on the JFs’ impact in Canada and starting to plan out their RJF role
while they are overseas). This information could be useful for the president’s to better understand
when and how to integrate their JF into the events of the chapter over the summer. This may be
especially important for the presidents who have not been JFs.
Facilitator: Keith Arnstead
Topic: The Dreaded JF Dropout
o Weekly calls
o Set expectations for communication with the JF and chapters
o Blogging: Presidents should role model by commenting frequently and at depth
o Alleviate members’ fears of not personally knowing the JF, to facilitate communication
o Include JF in Presidential year plan creation
Assignment: Contact a few members about talking to the JF on their own time
Facilitator: Dhaval Bhavsar
Topic: What role should chapters have in the selection of a JF?
Some ideas that were discussed:
RJFs are the best resource to use to select JFs regardless of whether or not they had a bad experience,
or have become jaded by the program, or if they want to select someone just like them or someone
o The rationale was that RJFs have the best picture about the challenges that are to be faced by
the volunteer who goes over, and because the tools that are originally used as a criteria for
selection include characteristics such as problem solving, innovative, entrepreneurial, etc,
these characteristics can transcend personality traits like introvert/extrovert, learning styles,
MBTI, and other things
o The core characteristics of a successful JF include many things, but each JF has a different
balance in those skills/styles, so selecting someone completely opposite can be beneficial, or
not, which can be said the same for selecting a person identical, or even selecting someone
strictly based off of the criteria
Chapter members can support RJFs in the selection process by not relying on the RJF to advertise and
promote the position by themselves. Coming back from a placement in late August, and beginning
promotions for the next JF is a daunting task, and supporting the RJF in this is crucial.
This will also mean that it is recommended that the RJF have the role of an RJF, allowing them to
invest their time at the chapter to mentoring and coaching future JFs, so as to prevent this cycle
(burned our JFs when they return) from repeating.
o Some chapters will have RJFs that want to be an integral part of certain program areas, and
they should not be prohibited from taking those on, but it is critical to understand that RJF are
not the same people they were when they left, and might have different interests and
motivations for staying a part of the chapter and organization
How best to support:
o Attempting to select JFs for 16 months, and not for the first 8 months
o More tailored application processes
To prevent just previous JF applicants going overseas the following year (edge), mixing
up the interview questions, to hit similar points and thought processes, but keeping
them on their feet
Will eventually get a better balance of JF ergo RJFs in the arsenal of the chapter
o Measuring burnout of the RJF when they return, keeping things off their plate, and not
burdening them with the whole task of facilitating all member learning and connection Africans
to Canada program
o Giving the RJF the option to select future JFs. If they feel they are not able to make a
constructive and effective decision, leave that to other chapter members. If the task of
selecting is left to the selection team, then all the selection team has to do which is solely the
task of the selection team is selecting the next JFs. The whole chapter can take part in
different capacities to organize the application process if need be.
Picture will describe this thought better:
RJF’s option to be a part of the selection team
or not. If not, then president and others can
be that team.
Minimum of 2 people for the team