I was thinking this morning just how important Arrow has been for me. That doesn’t mean it has been comfortable. I find my paradigm regularly challenged and somehow at the same time I find myself encouraged.
You might remember I wrote a short reflection a couple of weeks ago on strategic planning and quoted Will Mancini who said:
Have you ever put the wrong document in the paper shredder? There’s no way to get it back. You just can’t put the strips back together, not amount of time or tape will fix it. A similar thing happens to vision when you develop a strategic plan. The assumption is that more information will produce clearer direction, but just the opposite is true. I call this the “fallacy of complexity”. Too much information shreds the big picture into so many small pieces that the vision is hopelessly lost. More information equals less clarity.
Last night and today we had Graham Clarke take us for three sessions on Strategic Planning.
My experiences of strategic planning have not always been positive… in fact the very combination of those two words brings up feelings of nausea. I was deeply encouraged though, by Graham’s approach.
One of the things he said I want to think more about: The difference between calling and assignment. Basically he was saying that we are called to be us and that the specific assignments we take on change through our lives. It’s a useful framework that I will chew over and probably write a reflection about in the near future.
The most helpful thing I have ever heard about strategic planning I learned from a my friend Stephen Baxter (http://stephenlbaxter.wordpress.com/) who very helpfully boiled what is often a very convoluted process down to three questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to be?
- How do we get there?
Stephen boiled these three questions down further to three words:
Now?, Where?, How?
I have referred often to Stephen’s framework and was interested that Graham used a very similar approach. He brought with the dialogue around it some very helpful wisdom that I could deeply identify with. Some of the main things I want to remember are:
- Mostly churches and Christian organisations spend all their time talking about vision and spend very little time, if any, honestly engaging with the current reality. They then wonder why nothing changes.
- Generally speaking, the result of our current way of doing leadership is not empowering people and it is alienating our creative ( the people that think outside the box) and strategic people (the people that care about how we actually do the grand plans).
- The Australian Christian Church finds itself at a unique time in history, the old ways of doing things are not working and God is needing to do something new. Graham posed the question “Are we on the edge of a second reformation?”
- Knowing who you are (your values), where you are going (your vision) and what you are meant to be focussing on (your mission) provide the boundaries that allow you to think outside the box.
- It is always much more effective if the vision, mission and values come out of genuine dialogue rather than imposed from on high. The leader is not to create the plan but to create an environment where planning can effectively happen.
- Your vision is your most powerful tool for aligning your organisation. Your vision is never about doing something (thats the mission) its about being something.
- Measure what is important to you. What you measure you can manage and measurement allows you to know whether you are being effective. As part of this, focus on outcomes and not activities
- In order to really get where we need to we need to move from being an institution to being a movement of believers, and we need to move from program delivery to being a platform for potential.
- When it is working well everyone will know “I am doing what I am doing because this is what God has called us to be”.
I’m not sure how much sense you can make of these statements, but for me they are all useful touchstones, or reminders about what is really important.
You can look at Graham”s church’s website (http://www.barraboolhills.com.au/) to get a feel for how some of these principles work out in practice in his context. I really enjoy hearing from people who come from very different worlds to me and get a glimpse of what they have learned in their journey.