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TOOL 14 Review – The Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Placemat

By John Pearson

7 Reasons Why Strategic Plans Fail

Read pages 4 and 5 in Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, and you’re hooked (and convicted)! The authors list five ineffective ways that many leaders use when defining and addressing the strategy process:

  1. They define strategy as vision.

  2. They define strategy as a plan.

  3. They deny that long-term (or even medium-term) strategy is possible.

  4. They define strategy as the optimization of the status quo.

  5. They define strategy as following best practices.

How does your board define strategy? (Read my review.)

TOOL #14: THE ROLLING 3-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN PLACEMAT

Roll-up your sleeves and gather the strategically-gifted board and senior staff around the table—and begin with this: “What is our strategy?

Tool #14 in the resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 4, “Taking Time for Strategic Planning,” in this jam-packed 272-page resource. The tool features a simple one-page template (11” x 17”) and a process for creating and annually updating a rolling 3-year plan.

Many ministries have used a variety of strategic plan approaches (and reminder—one size doesn’t fit all). We appreciate “The Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Placemat” process first introduced to us by David Schmidt of Wise Planning.

But—warning! The strategic plan placemat is the final step, not the first step, in developing, discerning, and delivering a God-inspired strategic plan. As a first step, the tool includes a pop quiz to assess the readiness of the board and staff to begin a strategic planning process. There are at least seven reasons why strategic plans fail, including:

  • EVENT THINKING: Strategic planning is viewed as an event or a task, instead of a transformational ongoing year-round process.

  • INTERRUPTION: Strategic planning is seen as an “add-on” interruption and inconvenience to my “real work,” instead of becoming absolutely core to my role.

  • SACRED COWS: Strategic planning “economizes” by involving fewer and “safer” stakeholders who honor tradition, dead horses and sacred cows, versus out-of-the-box dangerous ideas!

Caution! Review all seven reasons why strategic planning might fail in your organization—before you launch! You may find that several key people (board and/or staff) have never experienced a healthy and effective strategic planning experience.

And this reminder from Ruth Haley Barton:

“Just because something is strategic
does not necessarily mean
it is God’s will for us right now.”

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Is prayer or “pseudo prayer” part of our strategic planning process? “Pseudo prayer . . . gives a wink and a prayer to holy input, versus an extraordinary process of assembling spiritually discerning people together to hear from God—who then joyfully follow His plan.”

MORE RESOURCES: In his guest blog, “Engage Board Members in Generative Thinking,” from the Lesson 2 in More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, Bruce Johnson reminds board members that one of the three governance functions, generative thinking, is often ignored in the boardroom—and that’s unfortunate! Click here to read his blog—and how your board can use generative thinking to enrich your strategic planning process.

 

This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.

 


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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