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Executing the Plan

NAD Executive Committee November 1, 2012

Step 1: Start with your leadership team

For excellence to happen in your church organization it must start with your leadership team. The best team size is a working group of between three to ten persons who constitute your key decision-making group for the operations of your organization. Although your team may be astute, experienced, and wise, these qualities are no substitute for a healthy leadership team (an NAD core value!).  A healthy team must be in place if your organization’s strategy is to ever take wings.

Behavior A – Establishing trust

Church leaders today, as at Pentecost, need an upper room experience that leads to humility, transparency, and a genuine willingness to discover ways of becoming a healthier, more productive team.

When people trust each other, they get things done more quickly and effectively without the need to defend their turf or posture for political advantage. A leadership retreat—guided by an external facilitator—can help jump-start the establishment of trust.

Behavior B – Constructive conflict and commitment

Healthy teams avoid artificial harmony because undigested issues in the leadership team will be magnified many times over throughout the organization.  One author writes, “Where there is trust, conflict becomes nothing more than an honest attempt to find the best answer1.”

Leaders who care for the good of the organization will disagree at times and then work toward crafting a solution that everyone on the team is willing to commit to and support even when 100% unanimity is lacking.

Behavior C – Accountability for results

Persons in healthy organizations hold each other accountable because it’s the right thing to do (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).  Accountability is a selfless act of integrity that puts “doing the right thing” above personal ambition or departmental self-interest. Leaders and staff do not hesitate to call out waste and inefficiency. Excellent organizations are anxious to document their effectiveness. They accomplish mission, get results, and therefore enjoy the approval of God and the trust of their constituents.

1 Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything else in Business

Step 2: Create organizational clarity

In a healthy organization, leaders and staff alike are crystal clear as to the purposes organization and where it’s headed and are passionate in their support.  Less effective organizations either assume that their people already know the mission or don’t care enough to find out.

Behavior A – Take an INVENTORY to see to what extent your leaders, staff, and members understand your key organizational statements.

Identify what percentages of your people are really aware of and guided by your organizational statements. Most organizations score rather poorly in this area.  Are you willing to excel in this area?

Behavior B – Craft clearly understood organizational language

EVERY church organization (including leadership, staff, and members), should be crystal clear on the following:

  1. Why do we exist? What is our purpose (Mission)?
  2. What is most importance for us to live by (Core values)?
  3. What does our shared portrait of excellence look like? (Vision)?
  4. How do we convert strategic visions into everyday reality? What day-to-day activities accomplish mission (Annual Roadmap)?
  5. How do we demonstrate successful accomplishment of our mission? How do we document excellence (Accountability; assessment)?   
  6. Advantages of using common language throughout the NAD   

Behavior C – Creating a compelling vision of excellence

Wise church organizations encourage their leaders, staff, and church members to picture in their minds the organization that they would LIKE to become.  Rather than fixate on problems and shortcomings, they focus on potential and possibilities (See Philippians 4:8).  Appreciative inquiry is a management method using a positive approach to change.

Behavior D – Communicate over and over again until it “catches”

People in an organization will only believe leadership is serious about strategy when they experience organizational language repeated again and again over time and in different forms and especially when they hear it passionately and consistently from the top leader (president or church pastor). A good example of this behavior is found in Deut. 6:6-9).

Step 3: Connect mission and vision to everyday

The Annual Roadmap (or its equivalent) serves a vital function. It links multi-year strategy to the day-to-day operations of each officer, leader, and staff member.  Many strategic plans flounder in failing to make this transfer.  As a result strategy never connects with the real world.

Behavior A – Each office or department of your church organization should complete the Annual Roadmap (or equivalent) which consists of a simple, one-page plan that contains the following components: Copies of blanks and samples will be online at the link below: www.ReachNAD.com/AnnualRoadmapBLANK R208. Watch for release details.

Behavior B – Create a dashboard of success indicators “What gets measured gets done.”  It is important from the beginning to make sure that there is wide-spread buy-in that indicators of excellence are fair, comprehensive, and methodologically defensible. www.ReachNAD.org?ExcellenceIndicators R220.

Step 4: Execute your plans with excellence

Once a strategy has been set, communicated, and planned for, it must be consistently reinforced.  This happens when every process and activity in your organization is structured in a way that reinforces mission. This includes hiring, orientation, worships, performance reviews, staff meetings, social occasions, training, and recognition.  The leadership team must take a personal interest in seeing that missional strategy is embedded in everything the organization does. . 

Behavior A – Prior Year’s Planning: The Cost Center Meeting

When completed, the Annual Roadmaps are presented during the fall of the year to a small cost center conference involving the ministry leader, the leader’s supervisor, the treasurer, and an appointee.  Input from the cost center meetings helps formulate budgets for the ensuing year.  This input is then channeled to a decision-making team who weighs the relative merits of all proposals and decides on the final allocations.

Behavior B – Preparation of a Calendar of Activities and Events

Once budgets have been finalized, planning can begin on the activities and events for the coming year to accomplish mission. A centralized on-line calendar system keeps the entire organization aligned around key events.

Behavior C – Energize, inspire, and document effectiveness

  • Healthy organizations use meetings, devotions, retreats as a way to inspire greatness and keep a laser-like focus on mission.
  • The role of leadership is to “build capacity” in those you lead so that THEY may become effective--the ultimate measure of your success.
  • If you assess what you wish to accomplish BEFORE you begin a project, you’re able to document growth and impact. Important!

Behavior D – Performance Excellence for Everyone

From the time funds are voted, people hired, and plans laid, mission-driven organizations pursue excellence in the following ways:

  1. Everyone participates in a program of assessment and growth
  2. Everyone embarks upon personalized and continuous learning
  3. Everyone is affirmed for unusually outstanding work(Matt 25:21)

High expectations become a way of life in excellent church organizations!

Step 5: Cascade Five Steps throughout the system

Local conferences, regional unions, and the NAD all have the responsibility of promoting a unified strategy among our increasingly diverse territory with an emphasis on the local church.  Ellen White writes “If Christians were to act in concert, moving forward as one . . . for the accomplishment of one purpose, they would move the world” (Vol. 9, p. 221).

Where there is good alignment and tight hand-offs between the entities, the local church receives the training, services, and resources it needs to do good work.  Where there are gaps in the delivery system, the local church feels abandoned and cheated.  Successful cascading involves the following:

Behavior A – Accomplish Steps 1-4 in your own organization first.

A union can best help a local conference deliver the four steps of strategic excellence when the union has first successfully gone through those steps itself. Conferences can do likewise with individual churches and churches with individual church departments. Trying out the steps first gives you experience and alerts you as to potential sources of difficulty as well as help.

Behavior B – Become aware of the rich supply of resources outlined in this document, AdventSource, and other locations that can help you implement the Five Steps. Then, consider becoming a consultant or trainer.  Contact the NAD’s Office of Strategic Planning and Assessment (SP&A) for details.

NAD’s intends to keep the web-site active with the finest resources available.  The Office will also suggest model organizations throughout the NAD who have demonstration programs and are willing to assist other organizations in their own journeys to excellence.

Behavior C – Promote these Five Steps to leadership teams in each of the church organizations that report to your organization.  Coach THEM  through the Five Steps above once you have done them successfully.  Make sure you provide adequate time, resources, and training for each Step.

Make the initial contact through the president (or pastor, if it’s a church); then follow-up up with a retreat for the leadership team with concrete “doables” after the retreat to keep momentum.  Reaching God’s ideal as a church organization requires an extra commitment of time during initial stages. But if the organization and its leadership are patient and persistent, they will find that initial investments of time will pay for itself many times over.