What I Learned from a Sour Leadership Meeting about Planning

Every year our staff takes an overnite retreat in September to map out plans for the next year. Our process is relatively simple. The elders determine the 2-3 broad objectives for the coming year. Then we translate these into strategies and then involve our ministry teams in developing the tactics. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Well, the past two years we’ve run into a glitch. We invite the elders to join us for dinner the night of the retreat. We bring them up to speed on our progress that day and welcome questions and insights. But, after that dinner in two years straight, both groups have gone away discouraged and deflated rather than encouraged. We all have good hearts and want what’s best for the church, but we seem to lose traction in our dinner meeting.

Here’s what we discovered. It’s impossible to bring one group up to speed in one hour what another group has accomplished in eight, especially in these crucial big-picture areas. So, we are planning next year to involve these elders in that planning day for two reasons. They need to experience the relational dynamic the staff experiences in the planning process. Secondly, they need to be involved more deeply in that process to gain greater ownership.

As an interim step this year, we are suspending acting upon our plans for 2010 until we can bring the elders into that planning process. We’ve scheduled an extended meeting soon to hopefully bring our elders up to speed.

So, if you are planning your next year now, consider how you can include your key stakeholders.

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