Galvin and Associates

Posts Tagged "strategy"

The problem with written strategic plans is that usually there is not much real strategy in them. This is true even of large ministry organizations with strong management. Some organizations have plans that are hopelessly out of date. Some have written strategic plans that nobody bothers to review. Others have detailed plans that are nothing more than a long list of goals and objectives. What is your strategy?

Almost every organization uses a template to guide their strategic planning process. There are many different templates out there and they usually include items like:
• Mission
• Vision
• Values
• Key Result Areas/Key Initiatives
• Measures/Targets
• Goals/Objectives
• Tasks/Activities/Projects

And when a planning group is all done and the strategic plan is written, what exactly is the strategy? Can you briefly and simply explain your organizational strategy?

The problem with strategic plans is that templates don’t work. Even the better ones have an empty space that is labeled “insert your strategy here.” But what if you are uncertain about what should be your strategy?

A recent book by Richard P. Rumelt titled Good Strategy Bad Strategy suggests that every organization has to get the “kernel” of their strategy right before moving ahead with developing detailed plans. The kernel of any strategy must include:
• Threats in the environment (to the organization or its mission)
• Guiding policy (or strategic direction)
• A coordinated set of key initiatives (to implement the policy)

This kernel is the missing ingredient in most strategic plans. A strategy is a cohesive response to adapt to changing conditions in the relevant environment. If your plan already has a strategy clearly spelled out, good going! If not, pull a group of staff or board members together to start talking about it. Don’t stop meeting until you can articulate a clear strategy that makes sense to everyone.

I was working with a board of a Christian camping ministry recently. They were doing well financially and in filling their camp, but they were always getting stuck when the conversation turned toward strategy. Some would say that they were being blessed by God and wanted to talk about what else God might have in mind for them. Others were saying they should stick to the mission and not get distracted by other ministry ventures. As we talked about their dilemma, we found that both sides were right. The board needed to govern the organization, but they also needed to steward the wider community (alumni, donors, parents) and leverage kingdom opportunities (helping other camps, launching new initiatives). We drew a diagram with two concentric circles. The innermost circle we labeled “governing the organization.” The next larger circle we labeled “stewarding the community.” Outside of the circles, we labeled the space as “leveraging kingdom opportunities.” This diagram gave the board a map that allowed them to explore new opportunities while keeping the camp and the mission at the core. Give it a try with your board and let me know how it works.