News — May 22, 2019

A Personal Development Model for JCI Members

Written by the 2019 JCI Skills Development Committee

As an organization that empowers young people to create positive change, JCI provides development opportunities for young people to enhance the skills that empower them to create long-term impact. For this reason, some JCI National Organizations have been focusing on creating development paths to enrich young people’s skills to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Led by 2019 National President Nora Gamst, JCI Norway has implemented and found success with a skills development program. In 2013, Gamst served as a Local President and served as National Secretary General in 2017 for JCI Norway. Professionally, Gamst serves as a Senior Advisor in the Norwegian Ministry of Health and works to develop policies that better the current health care systems. She is also a certified Insights Discovery Practitioner for JCI.

JCI Skills Development Committee Member for Africa & the Middle East, Mohammad Hijazi, conducted an interview with Gamst to discuss the specifics of JCI Norway’s Personal Development Program that has been helping members learn new impactful tools.

Hijazi: How did you come up with the idea to create the JCI Norway Personal Development Plan?
Gamst: In 2016, Lars Inge Leirflåt—JCI Sandnes President and former JCI Norway Executive Vice President for Operations—developed an on-boarding program that was used for candidates in several JCI Local Organizations in Norway. When I became JCI Norway Deputy President in 2018, this efficient program was discontinued due to a lack of follow-up resources, but I wanted to develop this program further for JCI Norway’s Plan of Action. So, I contacted Lars and asked him if he wanted to work on this together. I was so lucky to get him on board! After a couple of months of meetings and several prototype programs tested, JCI Norway’s Personal Development Program was born.

Hijaz: Can you explain the most important aspects of the program?

Gamst: I think the most important aspect of this program is that it’s designed to be flexible so members can choose which actions and activities they’d want to pursue. Initially, we had fixed development paths, but quickly realized that it is important for this program to serve as a guide without a strict pathway for users to take. We’re all different and JCI members should be able to choose their paths freely as well as mix different areas of the program for the path they want to pursue. Ultimately, this program showcases the possibilities that JCI members can take for personal development.

Hijaz: Which development path has been the most popular?

Gamst: We are still in the testing phase with this program as it is under continuous development. As I explained earlier, the paths we’ve created are flexible and can be mixed according to the needs of the member. The feedback we’ve been receiving from members is that they feel like they don’t have or want to develop themselves using other possible pathways which is okay as well. Only time will tell if one path is more popular than another, although, all paths are interrelated. For example, if you want to become better in public speaking, you might also need to develop your networking and leadership skills. We are following the usage of the Personal Development Program closely at the local level to be able to make improvements. We’ve also included this in our 100% Efficiency program.

Hijaz: As an introduction to JCI, your program encourages new members to undergo a development path called JCI Basic. Can you tell us about JCI Basic Path and how it motivates new members to become more active?

Gamst: When you become a new member of JCI, we all know that it can be overwhelming to understand all the opportunities this organization has to offer. The Basic Path is meant to make your first membership year easier using four parts. First, the basic courses like JCI Achieve, JCI Impact and other important courses. Secondly, we introduce basic activities such as holding short presentations that encourages new members to engage. Third, we explore basic participation in local, national or international events that create positive change and lastly, we discuss the unique contributions each member can customize for themselves based on their abilities. Our goal with JCI Basic is to make the first year easier for members, introduce them to JCI and what we’re about so that first year feels less overwhelming and encourages active citizenship.

Hijaz: What are the key factors for success in your plan?

Gamst: We have made a Local Organization Guide for this program that explains the factors for success we want members to remember when using the Personal Development Program. These factors include each member having a mentor who they can follow up with and rely on as support, setting up realistic goals for each year and learning how to be flexible. Local Organization Boards need to follow up their members as well with the assigned mentors. Last but not least, achievements should be celebrated continuously, as small or big as they may be.

Hijaz: Why do you think such a plan is important? Would you recommend it to other organizations?

Gamst: Within JCI Norway, we saw a need for a tool to provide support for Local Organizations while guiding their members toward personal development. We tried to design this tool to be simple and transparent so that it can be presented to young people interested in, newly joined as well as experienced members of JCI who wish to develop in new areas. For Local Organizations, this tool shall ensure that new members receive support and follow-ups in the areas they wish to develop in.

I would recommend some sort of development program or tool for other National Organizations. Each organization is different and has needs that might not be similar to our program, but the tool is available if other organizations want to adapt it for their community needs. We’ve seen other National Organizations who have already developed similar programs to ours. What I would like to see is collaboration and combing all the best aspects from each program that is out there to make this type of program even better, but still flexible and adjustable to the needs of National or Local Organizations. This way, we can learn from one another and develop an even better program for our members!

The 2019 Skills Development Committee wants your help in creating a Personal Development Program that can benefit all National and Local Organizations! If your National or Local Organization has created a development program or implemented projects to achieve this goal for your members, send your successful plans to so we can learn from one another!

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