The Strategic Process Summary

strategicI’m a firm believer in using The Strategic Process (developed by Erika Andersen in her book, “Being Strategic“) to help you think through the various challenges you face as well as to build plans for your ministry’s future. However, there are a lot of differing ideas on what Strategic Planning should look like for the local church. In fact, one of my favorite bloggers recently claimed that ‘Strategic Planning’ doesn’t really work anymore. As I drilled down the article I realized he was talking about a model of planning that was embraced by businesses and organizations in the 80’s and 90’s – and one in which I don’t personally promote.

That said, let me walk you through what I call the Strategic Process. These five steps can be very helpful in dealing with the various challenges your organization faces. For example, recently a pastor told me his church was struggling getting their teens involved in the church’s youth group because another larger church offered a youth group experience that was attractive to teens, but not very relevant spiritually. This is a great example of a challenge which The Strategic Process can help find solutions for.

The Strategic Process will also be a great tool to walk you through long range strategic plans for your church or ministry. For example, let’s say you have a vision to build a powerful children’s ministry that reaches all sorts of families in your community. The Strategic Process will force you to think through this challenge strategically and critically, allowing you to build a plan towards your goal that is much more likely to succeed.

The Strategic Process Summary
I need to give credit where it’s due. Much of these ideas have been generated and enhanced from Erika Andersen’s book, “Being Strategic“.

  1. Define the Challenge
    Your first step is to clearly define what your challenge is. You’ll do this in no more than 3-4 sentences. This step is critical in that it helps you stay on task during the rest of the process. Without a clearly defined challenge, you may be tempted to get sidetracked and end up creating a strategic plan that won’t really solve your problem. To learn more about how to ‘Define the Challenge’, visit THIS PAGE.
  2. Clarify ‘What Is?’
    In your next step you will stop and take stock of what is. This is where you determine what your current resources are, what you are presently doing to tackle the challenge, and how effective your efforts have been to date. Perhaps you’ve heard the term, “SWOT Analysis”. This is the step in which you engage this tool to evaluate where things stand right now. To learn more about how to ‘Clarify What Is?’, visit THIS PAGE.
  3. Envision ‘What’s the Hope?’
    You can’t effectively build a plan towards a desired future until you’ve determined what you hope that future will look like. In this stage of strategic planning you will build a realistic and fairly detailed picture of what you hope to eventually accomplish. To learn more about how to ‘Envision What’s the Hope?’, visit THIS PAGE.
  4. Face ‘What’s in the Way?’
    Your almost ready to build your plan. Before you do so, there is one more critical step you should first accomplish. You need to acknowledge any barriers which may be in the way of accomplishing your goal. Some barriers may be external barriers – situations or circumstances that may get in the way; other barriers will be internal barriers – attitudes or ways of thinking that could derail your plans. To learn more about how to ‘Face What’s in the Way?’, visit THIS PAGE.
  5. Determine ‘What’s the Path?’
    Finally, you are ready to build your strategic plan. This is where you lay out all the information gathering and research you’ve done in the first four steps to identify how you will most effectively get from ‘here’ to ‘there’. There are actually two VERY IMPORTANT pieces to this step. The first is to identify your top three or four ‘Strategic Steps’. These steps should tackle your most relevant barriers and be the most obvious ‘first steps’ towards your goal. The second piece of the path is to clarify your ‘Tactical Steps‘. This is where the rubber meets the road. Until now, everything has been in the realm of ideas, dreams, and hopes. Your tactical steps are sometimes the hardest to identify and fulfill – because it means somebody actually has to DO something. However, without your tactical steps, you’re plans will remain on paper and all of your time has been wasted. To learn more about how to ‘Determine What’s the Path?’, visit THIS PAGE.

One final note, we don’t often think to utilize ‘The Strategic Process’ enough. There are many times when I will speak to a staff person or leader who has been trained to utilize these steps and who are struggling with a problem and don’t know what to do. It’s obvious on paper, but not so obvious in real life – walk your problem through ‘The Strategic Process’! You may also find THIS STRATEGIC WORKSHEET a great help as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Erika May 24, 2011  

    Wayne –

    I love that you keep finding value in the approach I outline in Being Strategic. I’m thinking that your readers would also find the book itself very useful; that it would provide even more insight and depth about the process.

    You may not know that it’s on Amazon in paperback now (and available for Kindles and other e-readers, as well), so there are lots of ways folks can find it. And if you’d care to link to it on your website, that would make me super happy!

    Thanks again,

  • Wayne Hedlund May 28, 2011  

    Thanks for the reminder Erika. I’ve tried real hard to mention your book on Amazon each time I mention the process but forgot this time. I’ve since made that adjustment. Blessings!