Client Story: United Country Western Dance Council<sup>®</sup>

Client Story: United Country Western Dance Council®

“The Essential Story Process provided an avenue for Council leadership to discuss, celebrate, and realign the organization’s purpose and potential. Our leadership team bonded through the process of identifying the core values that differentiate and define our organization. In our third decade, we are more united in purpose, process, and perspective than ever.”

~ Keith Armbruster, President, UCWDC

The United Country Western Dance Council® (UCWDC®) is a not-for-profit, member-based organization that oversees a competitive dance circuit of qualifying events and Championships in North America and around the world.

Founded in 1989 in the USA, the UCWDC serves members including event directors, dance professionals, and competitive dancers. In 2022, the organization sought to address misunderstanding of its purpose, purview, and governance that was beginning to harm its brand. Several factors were at play, including rapid growth into new continents, changing industry demographics, natural leadership succession, and an internal desire for the organization to tackle larger goals.

As a first step toward meaningful change, UCWDC retained Phrase Strategy to conduct our Essential Story Process. A key goal of our engagement was to achieve alignment between the UCWDC brand, its leadership’s intentions, and its stakeholders’ needs and perspectives.

Through several workshops and working sessions with Council leadership, one-on-one interviews with Event Director Members, an analysis of the worldwide competitive dance industry, and an audit of UCWDC’s brand perception, we pinpointed organizational misalignments. Helping the organization clearly differentiate types of membership and distinguish between the goals of members and commitments of Council leaders was key.

Working closely with UCWDC’s past and present leaders, we then articulated the organization’s Essential Story. This included an all-new Vision, a fully refreshed Mission that can be operationalized, and the articulation of a concrete “big, hairy audacious goal” that now lives as part of UCWDC’s brand story.

The UCWDC’s Essential Story acknowledges its three-decade history while making space for current and future members and goals. We also worked directly with Committee members to demonstrate how the Essential Story informs and helps align day-to-day work, including its by-laws, rules, organization chart, member communication, and more.

The UCWDC’s new Essential Story was unanimously ratified by its membership and now serves as the foundation of the organization’s direction, decision-making, and communication both internally and externally.

“With Maria Ford’s guidance and facilitation, we came to understand better who we are individually and collectively. She created tools to help us understand the myriad roles and responsibilities each Council member holds. Decision-making and communication improved as soon as we learned to ask each other, ‘which hat are you wearing?’”

~ Jennifer Jeffries, Strategic Communication Project Manager, UCWDC