Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, September 24, 2003



One of the clubs I ran for in Sweden had "contracts" with runners in the training groups. As a runner, you made some commitments to train and compete, and the club made some commitments to support your efforts. I don't remember all the details (it was more than ten years ago), but I remember it seemed like a good idea.

Poking around on the internet, I bumped into another "contract" for a Swedish club. It still seems like a good idea. In this case, the contract is the same for all of the members of the club's "relay project." The contract is set up around goals, expectations for the runners, expectations for the club and expectations for people who want to help out.

The goals cover several years (2003-2005). The top goal is to win Jukola or Tio Mila. But, they've also set lower level goals for 2003 -- goals that it is realistic but challenging to meet and goals that they really ought to meet unless something goes wrong.

Next, the contract includes partial goals for 2003 for each individual runner. Each runner will try to improve compared to last year, become a more sure orienteer, run the club's test loop under a specific time and do what it takes for the club to reach the realistic goals for 2003.

The contract sets out some specific expectations for the runners. For example, each individual is expected to turn in a training plan, make certain training sessions priorities and help arrange training sessions and camps.

The club also makes some commitments to the runners. For example, the club will arrange relevant training and provide subsidies for training camps.

The last section of the contract is for people who aren't committing to the entire project, but want to help out and support the effort. These people can commit to helping with training sessions, be team leaders are relays, etc.

I think this sort of thing -- making a formal agreement about goals and efforts -- can help an organization perform well. Everyone gets on the same page and can feel that others are, or at least should be, committed to the same goal. For a club with a lot of new blood, I'd think a "contract" like this would help set the tone and keep some continuity.

I checked some results to see how well the club did compared to the goals for 2003. They met the realistic goal for Tio Mila but missed the "ought to meet" goals for the Swedish relay champs and Jukola. They missed the realistic goals for Stigtomta relay, but the second team met the "out to meet" goal for Stigtomta relay.

Overall, they've got to be disappointed with the 2003 results. Maybe they set their sights too high.

I wonder how common this sort of "contract" is?

posted by Michael | 1:17 PM


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