I remember the first time I led a team through strategic planning.
I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew is that I had to have a written plan to turn into my boss by the end of the week. To me, everything seemed obvious. Surely everyone knew what they were to do for the year. I think we finished the whole thing in about two hours. I also think I lost a part of my team that day.
I have helped a lot of teams in their planning process since then and I have taught strategic planning on numerous occasions. I regularly see two missteps when it comes to team planning. Either the plans are not worth executing because they were poorly done, or teams are worn out by the process.
I believe that there are two primary purposes of planning.
The 1st Purpose of Planning is Stewardship
This is the primary thought that all of the resources we have at our disposal are not our own.
They have been entrusted to us by another to steward well.
They are not inexhaustible.
We will probably never have all that we want.
I believe this to be true whether you are leading a for-profit enterprise or a non-profit organization. With these two things in mind, it makes sense that we have to be incredibly wise about the right use of the resources entrusted to us. Under the banner of “resources,” I would primarily include people, money, and tools. Because we believe our cause to be worthy, and because our resources are always limited, we have to employ the people, money, and tools under our watch with great care. And we must employ these resources towards the highest leveraged activities. This absolutely necessitates thoughtful planning.
The 2nd Purpose of Planning is Celebration
You may think this a strange reason for good planning.
I find that leaders and teams often spend days on crafting a robust strategic plan only to forget to celebrate key milestones along the way.
This can ultimately be very discouraging to a team.
This can also raise the belief that the constant, non-stop focus on planning and execution is primarily for the sake of the leader.
To stop and celebrate not only allows a proper break in the daily harried activity, but it also provides a great opportunity to acknowledge individual and team contributions. This places the proper emphasis on team, and not just on a leader. If you are a spiritual leader it also allows you the space to give God his deserved glory for showing up in ways that you had not anticipated, and adding his blessing to your plans. Celebration can take many forms. I think it should be specific, acknowledging critical milestones and key contributions. I also think it should be regular, taking place each time a new goal is reached. To stop and celebrate says that the dog days of planning were worth it. It also keeps your plan a living document that can change and adapt over time.
This post says nothing about how to plan. I will highlight that later. But I hope this post speaks clearly about why we must plan. When we steward our resources well and we celebrate along the way, we will see increased ownership and effort from our teams. We must see all resources as valuable and every effort as noteworthy. To do so elevates the function of planning. Lead and plan well!
Here are some key verses from the Bible on planning: Exodus 26:30; 1 Chronicles 28:12; Job 42:2; Psalm 20:4; Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 14:22; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 20:18; Proverbs 21:5; Isaiah 14:24; Ephesians 1:11