Progress and healthy growth require the right changes at the right times.
- What changes are you making?
- Why are you making those changes?
- What are the outcomes you desire?
As a leader, if you want to move forward, change is always in play. What is your strategy?
To successfully lead change, a smart strategy is always needed.
Before we get to the 7 main questions…
These first three questions will get you started regardless of the project size; from the overall vision for your church to a departmental goal or team project, it begins here.
Three starter questions for strategic thinking:
- What is your desired outcome? (vision and direction)
- What changes are required? (the price you are willing to pay)
- How will you get there? (the step-by-step plan to follow)
The most challenging element, however, is not the development of the plan; it is sticking with the plan that you created. That’s where so many strategies fall apart.
That doesn’t mean your plans won’t need to be adapted along the way; they nearly always do. But that’s very different than failing to follow through in the execution of the plan.
In my practice as a coach and consultant, one of the most common things I see is not the inability to make a good plan; it’s the inattention to following through with it.
Developing a perfect plan is far less important than the diligent execution of the plan.
Let me share an excerpt with you from my book Confident Leader.
The primary difference between good and great is disciplined diligence. Discipline deals with your inner character. Do you have the right stuff? Diligence deals with your outward focus. Are you doing the right things?
You will drift from your strategy if you are not disciplined in who you are (vision, values and culture) and diligent in what you do (completing the necessary steps.)
Without discipline you will drift toward comfortable relationships and leadership that doesn’t stretch you. Without diligence you will drift toward an inward focus, discipleship without evangelism and maintenance over progress.
This will inevitably leave you falling short of your desired vision or goals.
The following seven very practical questions will help you stay focused and on track in seeing your plan through to the outcomes you desire.
7 Practical Questions to Create Your Best Strategy
1) Who is the point leader, and who’s on the team?
Leadership always matters. God’s presence and power is essential, but He chooses to work through called and gifted leaders who are committed to His purpose.
It starts with the point leader. Do you have the right person for the job? And then who is on the team? It matters to get the right mix of talent and the right chemistry.
An important but seldom asked question in the strategic process is –
“Are you and your team excited and passionate about what you are doing?”
Going through the motions because something seems like the right thing to do will rarely get you across the goal line. Instead, a God-inspired purpose and plan are needed with a high passion for seeing it through.
2) What is God saying to you?
God has gifted you with wisdom, experience, and cumulative insight from the team, but keep listening while you design and implement your strategy. Then, give God room to change it as needed.
This may seem blatantly obvious, but it’s best to start with God, not your strategy. Meaning don’t create your strategy and ask God to bless it. Instead, ask God to guide you while you design your plan, and then ask for his favor and power upon it.
3) How will decisions be made?
Curiously, from the highest levels in any church, this question is not often answered quickly or with clarity.
How are decisions made?
Whether it’s the whole church, a campus, or a ministry area, how decisions are made is a critical strategic question.
Your decision-making process shapes productivity, group chemistry, morale, creativity, clarity, and workflow.
The actual process matters, but it’s more important that you have an intentional decision-making process and that everyone on the team understands it.
One of the best ways to avoid organizational bottlenecks is to know who makes what decisions and how the process works.
4) What are the key objectives and the preferred timeline?
Designing a good strategic plan starts with clear written objectives in tandem with a written timeline. Don’t rush this process.
Full ownership by the team is essential to gain the commitment and energy that will inspire the necessary follow-through.
When you have the key objectives in chronological order, you then begin to list the next steps to achieve the objectives in order.
At this point in the process, the details of the plan are developed.
The details need not be so micro that you bog the group down, but enough detail, so it’s crystal clear about who owns what.
5) What are the obstacles in your path?
Every vision, dream goal, or initiative worth achieving will have obstacles to overcome. Solving these obstacles is one of the leader’s top priorities and greatest responsibilities.
It’s impossible to anticipate every problem that may arise as you progress toward your goal, but the more you can see before they happen, the better.
To help you get out in front, ask yourself what the financial, relational, timing, logistical, influence-related, and communication obstacles in your path are?
Identifying obstacles leads in part to the resources you need.
6) What resources are required?
The primary three resources a church leader works with are:
- Time – Your most priceless resource. Use it wisely.
- People – Your most precious resource. Care for them well.
- Money – Your most powerful resource. Steward it well.
Your objectives will have already identified several of the more obviously necessary resources. The discerning of potential obstacles will reveal another layer of needed resources.
The need to adapt your strategy begins to show up at the combination of obstacles you meet and the resources you need.
When obstacles seem high, and resources seem low, don’t give up. There is always a “path around” so that your strategy can still work and your vision can be realized.
Perseverance is a necessary part of the process. We’ve all had a master’s level course on this subject over the past few years.
7) How will you review and measure progress and determine success?
One of the “simple secrets” to strategic breakthrough for a local church is to follow through and complete the strategic plan you started. Simply put, finish what you start.
The end result may not be perfect or exactly what you planned initially, but there is great power and momentum in finishing what you said you would do.
Completing your last project creates credibility, belief, and greater buy-in the next time you cast a vision.
Who will own the review and how will you measure results?