Strategic Doing for Faith Communities

At the heart of the Strategic Doing discipline is connection – how we connect with one another so that we can think and do together. When we connect we are able to get more done, to innovate, and to accelerate transformation in our organizations, our communities, and for our planet.

What Is Strategic Doing?

Strategic Doing is a discipline designed to help people form action-oriented collaborations quickly, move them toward measurable outcomes, and make adjustments along the way. Incubated at Purdue University, Strategic Doing is being used by organizations, groups, and individuals across the United States and in 143 different countries to better manage complex challenges and to align mission, vision, and purpose with action, outcomes, and impact.

Strategic Doing’s approach is universal, used effectively by a wide variety of groups and organizations: corporations dealing with technology innovation, urban neighborhood battling issues of systemic racism, rural communities addressing wicked problems like those related opioid addiction.

Often Strategic Doing is used as an alternative to more traditional approaches like strategic planning. Other times it is used to move existing strategies and goals “off the page” and into action.

“Strategy” seems to be something with which a wide variety of faith communities have difficulty, including those from different faiths. Research conducted by the Barnra Group found that faith leaders struggle with strategy. While a majority of faith leaders feel they are effective in some aspects of leadership, like motivating people, only one out of every seven (14%) say that they are effective at thinking and acting strategically. You can read more about that research here. Similarly, the eJewish Philanthropy has found that many synagogues could also use some new perspective about strategy. Many mosques seem to be looking for new approaches as well.

How Are Communities of Faith Using Strategic Doing?

Over the years, many people of faith have gravitated to Strategic Doing, encountering it as a participant in a larger community-wide or organization-wide initiative. Many have shared that they’ve taken elements of the discipline back to their own congregations or organizations and seen great progress and promise in its application.

We love this example of how Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan used Strategic Doing. They note, “When it comes to church work this method is particularly empowering for laity. Newcomers and long-timers alike can engage in this process and have their voices heard!”

It is at the suggestion of these friends and colleagues that we are customizing a set of practices, tools, and trainings specifically designed for faith communities.

Strategic Doing helps communities of faith reach their full potential as places where…

…deep focused conversations occur
…powerful questions are considered
…gifts are discovered
…opportunities emerge
…wise choices are made
…desired outcomes are shared
…pathways unfold
…words become actions
…our work is ongoing
…we continuously nudge and support one another, and welcome others into our work

What Resources Are Available to Support Communities of Faith?

We offer a number of different resources for faith-related communities and organizations. These include resources for strategy design and guidance, reading and discussion groups, conferences and other gatherings, and trainings and practice.

Resources for Designing and Guiding a Strategy Process
More and more faith communities are turning to Strategic Doing as the process they use for designing their own future and taking immediate action to begin transforming themselves into the faith communities they will become. This process looks little like traditional strategic planning. It is fast, lightweight, and fun. Most importably it delivers near-immediate results. We can help you design and guide a strategy process that is right for you, working with a small team, an entire congregation, or a network of partners.

Resources for Reading & Discussion
Communities of faith interested in building the capacity of their individual members to practice a more agile, collaborative style of leadership can use the book Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership along with the companion Strategic Doing Agile Leadership Workbook for Communities of Faith (available in late 2019.) The book offers insights into the both the science that undergirds the ten skills and how these ten skills can be put into practice. The workbook prompts reflection and provides ideas for further practice and application. These two items are ideal for reading groups and discussion groups at either the leadership level or for the entire membership.

Resources for Conferences & Other Gatherings
We have several Strategic Doing practitioners, including some of the co-authors of Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership, who are regular speakers and workshop leaders at conferences and other gatherings for people of faith. They are available for keynote addresses, as panelists, and as workshop leaders.

Resources for Training & Practice
We offer several different kinds of training, from half-day sessions, to full-day sessions, to a 2.5-day training that leads to becoming a Certified Strategic Doing Workshop Leader.

Resources from Friends and Partners
We are very excited about some of the like-minded people and organizations we are working with. To highlight just a couple, let us introduce you to:

  • C. Christopher Smith and his new book How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press). Christopher points out that we often don’t know how to talk well with others– especially with people whose backgrounds differ from our own and shows us how church communities can be training hubs where we learn to talk with and listen to one another with kindness and compassion.
  • The Englewood Review of Books has this to say about our book, Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership.
  • We’ve also become engaged with an innovative organization called Common Change. Their purpose is to eliminate personal economic isolation. They offer a powerful platform upon which small groups can form to pool money with people they know to share with people they care about. We’re excited about this partnership.

Scott leads the Strategic Doing for Faith Communities work. Connect with him to learn more.

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