Galvin and Associates

The Default Strategy



I have a diagnostic question I have been using with new clients lately. I simply ask, “What is your strategy?” I’m surprised by the large percentage of ministry leaders who struggle to answer it.

Some leaders can articulate their strategy well. Some recite their mission statement and confuse that with having a strategy. Others express what I call a “default strategy.” An organization in default mode usually tells you what they do and then has some variation on this answer: we‘re going to do the same things in the same way except try harder this time.

Sometimes an organization should do the same things the same way. At other times they need to make a strategic shift in order to increase effectiveness. The problem for ministry leaders is figuring out when to pivot and when to persevere.

If you sense that your way of doing ministry is becoming increasingly ineffective, trying harder is the wrong solution. Here are seven signs that it is time to make a strategic shift:
 Attendance is in slow decline
 Budget is in slow decline
 Key donors stop supporting you
 Client needs change
 The culture shifts
 New technology disrupts
 Organizational culture has grown stale

If you sense that your strategy is in default mode, then start asking questions. Hold strategic conversations with your staff, clients, donors and peers. Ask them what no longer works as well as it used to. Keep going until you have a fresh portfolio of strategic initiatives that will keep your organization moving forward.


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