Should the Church Be Asking the Same 6 Questions as J. Crew?

Olan Hendrix once said, “Strategic thinking is like showering, you have to keep doing it.” Many churches are intentional about setting short and long-term goals. Unfortunately, because there is no ongoing process they quickly get stuck and revert back to previous ways of thinking once goals are accomplished.

Strategic Operating Plans guide teams to clarify their mission, vision and core strategies — and then create the right structure and accountability to realize it through prioritized action initiatives. The process is a continual circle because strategic thinking must always be ongoing.

The May edition of Fast Company recently featured an article by Danielle Sacks that really demonstrates the importance of strategic planning.

1. Perspective: Where are we now? In 2003, the company found themselves in financial distress, they were no longer a force in the fashion industry. Their turnaround began when they admitted that they were stuck. They had to come to an understanding of how they got to where they were.

2. Planning: Where are we headed? The company decided that they had to return to designing distinctive clothing. They wanted to develop a coherent brand that would drive business forward.

3. Action: What’s important now? J. Crew quickly determined that actions steps needed to be taken to improve communication between stylist and merchandisers. They also realized that every piece of the creative organization — from retail to catalog to web — had to be unified. (Sounds really similar to eliminating ministry silos).

4. Structure: What form best facilitates our plan? The company hired Millard Drexler in 2003 and later made Jenna Lyons president. The two key leaders worked together to form a structure that supported their core plan.

5. Management: How are we doing? Annual revenue has tripled since 2003 and specific goals have been accomplished. The company returned to designing distinctive clothing and they are clearly unstuck.

6. Renewal: What must change? The company now constantly adjusts their product lines, tries new ideas, assesses and quickly terminates anything that doesn’t work. Their strategic planning has created a company of constant experimentation, iteration and adaption.

How are you doing when it comes to strategic planning? 

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Tony Morgan
Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.