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Listen to Owen Lee, Pastor of Christ Central Pres in Centerville, VA


Creating a CULTURE of ONGOING Strategic Planning & Execution

A strategy is most simply “what we do.” So we all have a strategy, whether it’s unintentional or an intentionally planned one. This is about the importance and practice of creating a culture that is both highly relational and at the same time practices ongoing planning and execution of those plans.

My deep conviction is that the DUAL VALUES of deep relationship along with a strong mission focus will most honor God AND lead to the best results, especially if it becomes  an ongoing practice of planning and execution.

I have facilitated many organizations on this strategic planning journey, and I make it clear that we will DEEPEN relationships AS we experience the process. In fact, my preferred way to proceed is to spend the first day together building the planning team’s relationship, trust, and team cohesiveness with a “Team Workshop” that grows understanding of how a healthy team works, builds understanding of our own and each others’ God-designed strengths and struggles, draws out the team’s strengths and struggles, and deepens our real knowing of each other. I have seen God use this time to really bring a team together, whether they were in relational stress coming in or felt that they had great relationships already. At the end of a recent workshop for a church, the Pastor commented that he had known everyone from 15 to 29 years and yet he learned significant things about several of the team through this interaction. After a day like this, your strategic planning team is so much better equipped to do the hard work of planning together.



So here is what that planning process looks like. Although I define the terms in one specific way, what’s important is that you are clear on your definitions of terms. Each of the elements in this visual plays a critical role in strategic planning, so I recommend that you utilize all of the elements in your planning, no matter what you call them in your organization. You can discover each element of your strategic plan by asking 11 Key Questions. 

1. Purpose – WHY does this organization exist? This is the broadest and most fundamental statement. It will not necessarily differentiate you from others.


2. Core Values – How do we behave? These are those constant, non-negotiable characteristics of who we are that we should never, ever violate in all that we do. They in a sense describe the boundaries within which we operate, like the left and right guardrails of a roadway that we must stay within. And, taken together, they describe a lot about our culture.


3. Vision – WHERE are we going? This is the inspirational future  that you should always strive for, constantly make progress in moving toward, but never fully attain. It is lofty, usually not directly measurable, memorable (ideally by the entire organization), and constant. It’s your target.


Your Purpose, Vision and Values together make up your “core” that Jim Collins (in his book Built to Last) says you must protect. They should never change, and everything should be aligned with them.

4. Strategic Anchors – How will we succeed? What are the major things you do now to survive and thrive? 

5. Current Reality – Exactly where are we now? To create a strategy, you must also know the real state of the organization today. Until you know where you are you can’t clearly see the gap between that and the Vision, or where you are going, so you can’t know what steps to take to get there. 

6. Ten Year Target Picture -- What will you look like in 5 or 10 years? This is a picture you will paint, balancing vision and faith with wisdom.

7. Key Focus Areas -- What is most important right now? If you are going to make the 10 Year Picture happen, what is absolutely most important to tackle over the next 3 years?


8. SMART Goals – What exactly will we do? To answer this question we develop SMART goals and Action Steps necessary to accomplish these goals. goal must be assigned to and owned by a leader and team.


9. Organizational Plan – Who will do what? How should we organize and define roles in a clear way that will best facilitate our reaching these goals? This might occasionally require serious restructuring of the organization from the top down.

10. Operations Plan -- How will we do things on a daily basis? This includes meetings, metrics, accountability to execute, building teams, and developing leaders. And what procedures and policies are we missing?

11. Communications plan – How will we tell people about this? Who are the key stakeholders in these changes and how should we communicate with each group? 

So the Strategic Plan will consist of all of the above elements. Practicing it as an “ongoing” process as opposed to an occasional major effort will develop planning and execution into part of your CULTURE. The ongoing practice will be to:





Doing all of it in real, vulnerable, relationship will actually deepen your relational culture over time. 

Strategic Planning: Inner_about
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