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4 Indispensible Truths About the Art of Planning

All of us have been in planning meetings before with a team that seemed to have had a breakthrough moment. You know, that moment when everyone says, “Yes! That’s exactly the direction we need to move, and that’s exactly how we need to get there from here!”

There was energy, excitement and unity as everyone left the meeting. But the more time that passed after the meeting dismissed, the more that energy that was there faded, and the less movement toward actualizing the plan took place.

In fact, a large majority of planning meetings don’t actually provoke much real change in most churches and organizations.

Here are four reasons why many of your plans aren’t really getting you anywhere:

1. Planning is hard work.

Anybody who tells you any different is lying to you. Not only do you need to have the ability to get the stakeholders in the room, but there are some key questions you’ve got to wrestle to the ground. There are probably a lot of things we could do, but what must we do? What plan best fits and reinforces our culture? How will we resource the plan? How do we know if the plan is working? What staffing structure best suites our plan? Will the plan actually get us where we want to go?

2. Plans don’t self-execute.

No matter how incredibly airtight your plan is, no plan self-executes. You’ve taken the time and put in the hard work of putting a plan together, and in so doing you’ve taken one of the first steps in making vision real. But now comes the really hard work. Executing the plan.

3. No plan survives contact with the enemy.

I have a long and rich military heritage in my family. Maybe that’s why I love this statement so much … because that’s where it comes from. All great generals and military leaders know that no matter how well conceived that plan is at head quarters, officers on the field of battle are the ones who are actually leading their men to take the hill. The enemy never behaves exactly as you expect him to. Great military leaders understand the art of making adjustments on the fly, all while keeping their eyes on, and men moving toward, the objective.

4. A good plan that can’t be changed is a bad plan.

If you’re inflexible, you’re going to find executing a plan to be nearly impossible. No matter how much preparation you put into it, there are still going to be unforeseen obstacles. You may find you have the wrong leader executing the plan. You may have underestimated the resources required to execute the plan. Or you may overestimate the pace at which the plan can be properly executed.