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3 Biggest Misses in Strategic Planning

So you've finally gone through the process of developing a 12-to-18 month strategic plan with your leadership team. But do you know what causes most plans to never get off the ground?

Very few churches we’ve worked with had a good process for regularly scheduled strategic planning. But even the ones who did found the process had more than a few holes in it. In our work, we’ve identified the 3 Biggest Misses in Strategic Planning…let’s see how you fare against these:

1. Little Follow-Through. The tell-tale moment for one church we coached came when a person on the leadership team suddenly blurted out, “Hey, whatever happened to that 5-year plan we came up with?” Not only could they not remember when they wrote it (it turned out to be three years earlier!), they were having a hard time remembering what was even in it. A plan is only as effective as the accountability system you build into it, as in: who’s responsible for what and when and to whom?

2. Lack of Team Involvement and Buy-In. Creating a strategic plan via a team process definitely means it’s going to take a little longer. But the flipside is “buy in.” When leadership team members genuinely take part in the planning and have real input, ownership exponentially increases. That means “High D” leaders need to reign in their “take charge” tendencies and let a facilitator work the process. And the reward is this: the more people you have in the boat with you, the better your stress level and the more potential your plan has to succeed.

3. Confusing Goals with Strategies. Good Goals are what you want to be in the future; Strategies are how you’re going to get there. Many leaders are naturally “task-driven” because they simply want to move things forward…and it’s easy to drill down quickly to the “how”. But true Goals will push organizational values to the front and often force “why” questions. Goal discussions are typically driven by opportunities that a team takes the time to identify.

As the Elemental Churches FOCUS Tool says during its facilitation process: “An Opportunity is what is true right now, but a Goal is what you want to be true in the future. A Goal describes how you want the situation described by an Opportunity to change. A Goal is also not a Strategy; a Goal is what will happen if your Strategies work.”

Q: What do I need to change today to ensure we plan well for the future?

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)

Dave Workman | Elemental Churches


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