Strategy is another way of saying a long-term plan is going to be developed and put into action.
Mission and vision for individuals, teams, and organizations are essential. They declare purpose and intention. Strategy is the next, necessary step. It determines direction and plans how to move forward. Mission and vision without strategy will remain a hope and a dream. Mission and vision will not determine success. Strategy determines success.
Strategy isn’t easy. At it’s best, strategy is the combination of innovation and hard work. Strategy will initially cause anxiety because it will change things. But in the end, good strategy has the goal of uniting and blessing. Strategy is a plan of action that leads to living into a vision for the future.
Here are nine steps for developing and implementing strategy.
1. Determine where you are.
This one is tough. People and teams often view ourselves as we want to be seen, not how we actually appear to others. A church may view itself as friendly or welcoming, but guests and visitors may not experience this. For an accurate assessment—get external feedback. In the example above, find some people to visit your church and ask for honest feedback. We need to discover our real, not perceived competencies.
2. Start where you are.
We can’t start where we used to be. We can’t start where we want to be. After we discover where we are—we start where we are.
3. Determine what is most important.
Words like priority and focus now come into play. What are the two or three issues most important to the overall well-being of the organization that require immediate and significant attention? We can do anything, but we can’t do everything. At least not all at the same time. One of the most important parts of strategy is determining what not to do.
4. Set specific goals and attach timelines.
Energy and activity now focuses on objectives that clearly affirm what the organization must accomplish to tackle the above priority issues. Here we respond to the question: What does success look like and when will it happen?
5. Determine the who.
A more important step will not be taken. If a person wants to start exercising, who is going to be the person’s partner? If a church wants to move forward on an initiative, who is going to lead the team and who is going to join the leader?
6. Develop the who.
The goal is success. The who will need buy-in, structure, support, encouragement, and constructive feedback.
7. Keep taking the next steps.
The only step we can take is the next step. Good strategy keeps planning and preparing and performing. Good strategy keeps taking the next step.
8. Celebrate progress.
This one is fun. Take time to pause and celebrate progress. Affirm each other. Do so publicly. Have lunch together. Celebrate in ways that are meaningful for you and your team.
Strategy will constantly change because culture, opportunities, and challenges will constantly be changing. Keep determining what is most important, keep setting new goals, keep developing new and existing people, and keep taking the next steps.