The new Strategic Plan developed by the Council of Elders and the Operation Plan developed by the administration were approved by the General Conference of Elders May 18. Here are excerpts from the introductory letters sent to the elders, along with definitions of the terms used in the plans. (See the print or PDF versions for the Strategic Plan and Operation Plan chart.)
Strategic Plan: From the Chairman
The Council of Elders and home office administration are pleased to present to you our new Strategic and Operation Plans. It has been a dizzying six months going from concept to completion. As you will remember, the feasibility study took place at the August 2007 Council of Elders meeting, with the Council giving full endorsement to the project.
The initial groundwork, including interviewing and selecting a facilitator and conducting the necessary interviews to create a briefing book, took us into early January. Once these tasks were completed, the bulk of the Council's work took place in two strategic planning retreats held in January and February. Staff members have worked feverishly since, getting the plans ready for distribution.
The new plan is clean and graphic, and it flows in a logical manner from vision and mission to strategic action steps. We have included definitions of all components.
You will find the Vision and Mission Statements are unaltered from previous Strategic Plans. Guiding Principles have replaced Value Statements. While the content is fundamentally the same, they have been reworded to fit the new more dynamic planning process. The reason is simple—Value Statements only state values; Guiding Principles state principles and the action that must be taken as a result of holding those values.
Positioning Statements are new to our culture. These are broad statements about the direction and focus of the organization. As you can see, they, too, require us to take a stand on what we intend to do. The Strategic Plan ends with the statement of three major goal areas for the Church—Public Proclamation, Congregational Care and Organization, which set the stage for the Operation Plan to be presented by the president.
Again, it is our pleasure to present you with the new Strategic and Operation Plans. We expect they will be the first step in becoming more efficient, productive and accountable—all qualities we believe are important to the God we serve.
On behalf of the Council of Elders,
Vision: A picture of the "preferred future"; a statement that describes how the future will look if the organization achieves its ultimate aims.
Mission: A statement of overall purpose of the organization. Describes what you do, for whom you do it and the benefit.
Guiding Principles: General guidelines that set the foundation for how the organization will operate.
Positioning Statements: Broad statements about the direction and focus of the organization.
Goals: Broad, long-term aims that define accomplishment of the mission.
Objectives: Specific, quantifiable, realistic targets that measure accomplishment of a goal over a specified period of time.
Objectives must be SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
The performance of the organization is graded against stated objectives.
Critical Success Factors: Major items or issues that must "go right" to achieve one or more objectives.
CSFs are limited to those things that can be impacted by the organization.
Barriers: Existing or potential challenges that hinder the achievement of one or more objectives.
As with CSFs, limited to those things that can be impacted by the organization.
Strategies: Broad activities required to achieve an objective, control a critical success factor or overcome a barrier.
Operation Plan: From the President
In the flow of organizational planning, once the Council has established the overarching goals for the Church listed in the Strategic Plan, the ball is handed off to the administration to implement the plans necessary to achieve those goals.
During the strategic planning process we identified scores of worthy tasks and undertakings, but attempting to tackle all of them at once would be a fruitless and frustrating exercise. This model of strategic planning requires that we identify and address the highest priority issues, rather than listing every single thing that is part of normal continuing operations.
Public Proclamation: Our highest priority for the coming year is to build a significant presence on the World Wide Web as the primary vehicle for delivering the gospel to the world.
We have been heading in this direction for a long time, but we are specifically focused on developing a master plan and increasing the number of skilled staff capable of implementing it. In addition to technical considerations, a major challenge will be to create a variety of Web content that more effectively engages our audience.
Our long-term intent is to increasingly communicate with our audience through the Internet—it provides many more open doors for contacting the public; it allows rapid response and opportunities for building a relationship with those who are interested; and it is far more economical.
To that end, we plan to build multiple new Web sites in order to attract a wider audience to the gospel message. We will strive to keep our sites fresh and abreast of technology, promoting electronic literature in order to reduce print and mailing costs.
Increasing print and postage costs are plaguing all businesses, and we must strive to ensure, as much as possible, that our print material goes to a more highly qualified audience. Consistent with this priority, we will implement an annual renewal process for all periodicals to identify committed subscribers. Print circulation numbers will drop in the short term, but we anticipate that our Web strategies will rebuild and maintain these circulation levels.
We will undertake close cooperation with talented Web designers and artists throughout the Church to achieve the most effective sites, hire appropriate staff to manage and maintain these sites, and use contracted services to supplement staff as needed. We will also develop a plan to optimize search engine hits on our sites.
The Bible Study Course has traditionally been a major tool for spiritual development. One of our high priorities is to rewrite and expand the BSC , plus simultaneously develop an interactive Web version to increase its effectiveness.
In addition, another major editorial project will be to write new, more condensed, first-contact literature for all of our Web sites in order to more effectively provide a "milk to meat" approach.
This will require staff education and development programs to increase the impact of our message through a more compelling delivery in both written and video materials, which will in turn encourage return visits and loyalty.
Focusing on the Web as the primary vehicle for preaching the gospel does not negate other forms of delivery, but it does redirect our priorities in spending. For example, we will begin to limit our use of print advertising, shifting more to increasing the percentage of readers using electronic versions.
Congregational Care: In the strategic planning exercise, the Council determined that our number one internal need was for an effective succession plan for replacing our aging pastoral ministry. To accomplish this task, the priority organizational strategy for Ministerial Services must be to "develop a comprehensive training program for ministerial candidates, including facilities for the development of pastoral candidates, to meet our current and future needs to ensure that there is a pastor to care for each congregation."
History has taught us well that the Church's health and growth depend greatly on providing quality pastoral care in every congregation, both in maintaining a manageable pastor/congregation ratio and in serving effectively. We must ensure that we not only have the manpower to fill positions, but that they are as effectively trained as possible to meet the growing challenges of pastoring God's people in "this present evil age" (Galatians:1:4).
In addition to new manpower training, Ministerial Services has identified several other key projects to fulfill the part of our mission that addresses caring for the disciples who have responded to God's calling. The most obvious location for "preparing people" is within the environment of the local congregation. Therefore, you will see that our strategies target areas to improve that environment.
Specifically, the plan calls for implementing training programs in conflict resolution, upgrading speaking skills and quality of presentations, improving the content and reach of our educational programs for the entire Church, educating pastors on how to stimulate member involvement, improving ways to help retain our youth by developing their relationship with God, and improving our methods of assessing the spiritual growth of members and congregations.
Organization: A new arena of focus emerged from our strategic planning retreats that we labeled simply as "Organization"—meaning, the structured part of the Church that consists of employees and elders. In this area the emphasis is centered on improving issues such as unity, teamwork and satisfaction. These are critically important matters for the general well-being of the Church.
Effective communication is always a key in any area of relationship building among humans, and especially so within the Church. That will therefore be a prime target for improvement through a systematic means. Another major step forward in coordinating projects, assessments and measurements will be in elevating the role of our Human Resources department. We have already begun in the past few months to assess how to more effectively coordinate all areas of HR, and we will dedicate more finances, time and effort to serving organizational and employee needs.
On behalf of the operation managers and home office staff,