Wisdom Wednesdays: Don’t Just Try Harder: What is Your Strategy?

by Jim Galvin

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.

For an article on strategy recently published, click here: http://galvinandassociates.com/downloadables/GotStrategyCCCA.pdf

Jim Galvin, Ed.D., founded Galvin & Associates, Inc., in 1999.  Based in Elgin, Ill., he is an organizational consultant specializing in strategy, effectiveness and change.  Jim has been a speaker at several ALDE events.  http://www.galvinandassociates.com

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3 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesdays: Don’t Just Try Harder: What is Your Strategy?

  1. It’s always good to hear from the pros like Jim, Pat etc. Regarding strategy, I’ve noticed that organizations rarely tie their vision to their mission. It seems to me that developmentally, vision should be cast as “mission accomplished” so it is actionable. Perhaps this is another reason why strategy seems often to be adrift. When vision isn’t the mission’s impact over time, it will not provide the benchmarks that provide clear loadstones or milestones to evaluate progress. Additionally, we don’t look at these issues from th perspective of the audience(s) we serve and thus don’t articulate these issues from the “outside-in.” That’s why Uncovering your Promise is important.

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