Recently, I was able to check off another bucket list item. My wonderful wife, Jen, purchased a ticket for me to attend an NCAA Men’s Basketball Sweet 16 game to watch my beloved West Virginia Mountaineers. Although the outcome was not what I had hoped for, I had an incredible experience. As I watched I was reminded of the importance of a game plan.
Effectiveness and success in most endeavors requires thoughtful preparation and thorough planning. Sometimes success and effectiveness may happen unintentionally, accidentally, but most often success comes to those who have a carefully thought out game plan. A game plan is a strategy or a series of steps that a team must follow in order to be able to accomplish its goals. A coaching staff will prepare a particular strategy for a game, based on the respective strengths and weaknesses of their own team as well as the opposing team. The game plan takes into consideration many factors. Study winning teams and you will see that they plan to win. Study ineffective or losing teams and you will see that they often had no game plan, or a poor plan at best. As Alan Lakein said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
I have been a pastor and worked with hundreds of pastors in the last 25 plus years. In my most effective years of church ministry (regardless of their size or location), the leadership teams at those churches had a carefully thought out game plan for the year. Reflecting on my most ineffective years in ministry, I know the game plan was not well thought out or we had no plan at all. Sometimes I was just too lazy to do the work required to plan. Sometimes, our teams were so busy doing the work of ministry that we failed to take the time necessary to plan for the next season. Sometimes to save time, we simply repeated the previous year’s game plan without making adjustments and improvements specifically for the new season of ministry.
I know the same holds true for the churches and church leaders with which I have consulted and coached over the years. Sadly, far too many churches and church leaders have NO game plan at all and somehow expect different results for their efforts. The old leadership axiom holds true though, “If I always do what I have always done, I will always get what I have always gotten.” And, many of us have heard that the definition of insanity is to do the same things over and over and expect different results. But, many choose to do nothing differently.
Here’s the point. I believe most organizations and leaders can reach their desired goals and experience greater levels of effectiveness with a carefully thought out game plan that is implemented and adjusted as needed. So as you prepare to launch new initiatives here are some questions to consider as you prepare your game plan:
- Have we clearly defined why we are doing this? Understanding why you are doing what you are doing will assist in creating a narrative to inspire involvement and contribution of people.
- Do we know what it is that we will do and not do? This will help in clarifying and setting purpose and goals.
- Do we know how we are going to do what we are going to do? This will provide the framework for strategies and systems to clarify and support the new initiative.
One of the mistakes that I see ministry teams make when launching new ministries ideas is that they don’t spend adequate time putting together a game plan. Therefore, many try to do too much too soon or underestimate the process of change and transition and the new initiative has a short lifespan. A carefully thought out plan before the launch can increase the probability of successful implementation. As the writer of Proverbs said, “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run” (Proverbs 21:5, The Message).