How big or how little?  Easy or hard-as-nails?  Toastmasters looking to start a DTM project naturally have some questions.   Should the project be so easy that one can do it by oneself? “I’m a hard-working person.  Its time to make things easy for me.”

The DTM project is a capstone, an effort that others will admire.   Our slogan in Toastmasters is that our clubs (and districts) are where leaders are made.   The DTM project proves it.   Ideally, the project is remembered because it works for a while, months, perhaps for years.  A long-running project can be called one’s “legacy,” fairly earned.

The DTM project is a showcase for leadership.  By design, the DTM project is bigger than one person can do by oneself.  You’ll achieve this milestone with volunteers and a guidance committee working on your team. Other people leave their mark.  The DTM candidate rallies a team and calls for input on planning, not just the execution.

So, what makes a good DTM project?  Toastmasters International tells us that the project should change an organization.  The organization can be a business, a non-profit mission, or even Toastmasters itself.  Many Toastmasters have asked about completing a DTM project by running a speech contest.   Don’t do it.  Because we run speech contests every year, the methods, processes and volunteer roles are often identical and familiar – hence there is a reduced role for leadership planning.  A speech contest does not make a memorable project.

Here are some qualities to consider for your DTM project:

The project has an impact that endures. 

Because of this project, things run better.  People achieve more because this project makes things effective and efficient.  The project solves a problem or reduces friction in the nature of work.  Once people in your organization sample the results, they will want to keep using your project.    

The project is bigger than one person can handle alone. 

You’ll be leveraging the power of other people to get things done.  It will require engagement and oversight.  Your project is more profound than clearing out old records and files.  A team is needed to stare complexity, vagueness and inconsistency in the face and proclaim, “there is now a better way.”  Build your team and collect fresh guidance.  You might be positively surprised by what your team recommends.

The project inspires.  Others remember it.

You may create a watershed moment of change, such that people may say “I remember when we did things the old way.  It was harder then.”   Here is your call – create a project of such significance that people divide time by your impact.  Now, people will say, “we are able to do more.”  You have the chance to ring the beautiful bells of inspiration.  This is worth working for.  This is your chance to be called an inspirational leader.

Put some thought into your DTM project.   Presidential candidates put together an exploratory committee before they run for office; DTM candidates can seek advice too.  You are offering your leadership skill and can make the world a better place.   Run away from suggestions to do “the same old thing” that others have already done.   Be original and be bold.  Make your DTM Project something that people talk about.

Steve Broe DTM, DTM Chair

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