Monday, August 24, 2020

Is Your Vision Stuck on One Strategy?

It’s highly likely, during these COVID-19 days, that your ministry’s mission and vision are being tested. Here are two book recommendations with insights on vision, mission, and strategy.

Is your vision statement or your mission statement stuck on just one strategy? Has COVID-19 decimated that strategy? In his 2020 book, The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business, Michael Hyatt writes. “A practical vision is specific enough to suggest strategy, but not so specific it commits you to one particular strategy.” Are you stuck on a sacred cow-type strategy? 

Hyatt asks 10 questions about vision—and his book (read my review) dramatically changed my thinking about the importance of vision. I was a mission statement zealot. Vision was important, yes, but it’s the mission that gets you from Point A to Point B—or so I thought. The vision is focused on “what, not how,” says Hyatt. Both are important, of course, but maybe it’s time your board takes a second look at your foundational assumptions on vision, mission, strategy, and core values?

How would your board and CEO answer Hyatt’s 10 questions?
   1. Are You a Leader or a Manager?
   2. What Difference Does Vision Make?
   3. What Do You Want?
   4. Is It Clear?
   5. Does It Inspire?
   6. Is It Practical?
   7. Can You Sell It?
   8. How Should You Face Resistance?
   9. Is It Too Late?
 10. Are You Ready?

The author lists four characteristics of a vision that inspires: 
   1) The vision focuses on what isn’t, not what is.
   2) The vision is exponential, not incremental.
   3) The vision is risky, not stupid.
   4) The vision is focused on what, not how.

In April, when COVID-19 sent us dashing to our bunkers, I posted a Pop Quiz here, “Top-5 Ways to Bless Your Ministry.” The second suggestion was to “Help Our CEO Discern ‘The One Thing.’” I suggested you call or email your CEO with this insight and offer to have a conversation about his or her “ONE Thing:”

"What's the ONE Thing you can do this week
such that by doing it
everything else would be easier or unnecessary?"

Perhaps, for the board, your ONE Thing, now in August, is to read Hyatt’s important book—and revisit your vision. And while you’re delegating your reading, let me recommend that at least one person on your board also reads The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders, by Roger Parrott. (Read my review here.)

With in-the-trenches insights as president of Belhaven College and broad experience with evangelicals, Parrott’s chapter, “Planning Will Drain the Life from Your Ministry,” is an insightful counter-balance to much of the vision/mission rhetoric. His prophetic book in 2009 speaks into 2020 when he notes that both the optimistic and the pessimistic view of the future (which is unknowable) can create havoc. Of the latter, he writes, “…or you raise fears instead of funds by basing your plans on less rosy assumptions that reflect the uncertainties of tomorrow.”

Parrott’s final chapter is another must-read, “Catching the Wind of God.” He begins, “I am convinced one of the core problems of evangelical leaders is that too often we’ve stopped trying to catch the wind of God in our sails because we’ve become fairly effective at creating our own independent power to get God’s work done.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: So…who will read and report on these two books at our next Zoom board meeting?

MORE RESOURCES: Click here to read David Schmidt’s guest blog on Lesson 37, “Don’t Stretch Credulity With BHAGs and Stretch Goals. The actual achievement of audacious goals is very uncommon.” This is one of 40 color commentaries from the book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Schmidt writes, “Always—we must test motives and drivers when setting goals. Pride and fear can easily disguise themselves as bold leadership.” Click here to read the chapter online.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Index to Ram Charan’s 14 Questions + 3 Next Steps

Is Your Board Owning Up?

Over the last 14 weeks, I’ve highlighted the insights and wisdom from Ram Charan’s practical book for board members, Owning Up. While the book is written for corporate for-profit boards, nonprofit ministry board members will also find the book extremely insightful. During these COVID-19 months, I pray your board will be diligent and faithful in reflecting on and acting on these 14 questions.

And see below for a way to leverage these questions in the boardroom, at a board retreat, or even in a virtual board meeting using the “10 Minutes for Governance” exercise.

INDEX TO 14 BLOGS: Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, by Ram Charan (Order from Amazon)

Click on the links below to read the blogs for each of the 14 chapters in Owning Up:

[  ] Question 1: Is Our Board Composition Right for the Challenge?
[  ] Question 2: Are We Addressing the Risks That Could Send Our Company Over the Cliff?
[  ] Question 3: Are We Prepared to Do Our Job Well When a Crisis Erupts?
[  ] Question 4: Are We Well Prepared to Name Our Next CEO?
[  ] Question 5: Does Our Board Really Own the Company’s Strategy?
[  ] Question 6: How Can We Get the Information We Need to Govern Well?
[  ] Question 7: How Can Our Board Get CEO Compensation Right?
[  ] Question 8: Why Do We Need a Lead Director Anyway?
[  ] Question 9: Is Our Governance Committee Best of Breed?
[  ] Question 10: How Do We Get the Most Value Out of Our Limited Time?
[  ] Question 11: How Can Executive Sessions Help the Board Own Up?
[  ] Question 12: How Can Our Board Self-Evaluation Improve Our Functioning and Our Output?
[  ] Question 13: How Do We Stop From Micromanaging?
[  ] Question 14: How Prepared Are We to Work With Activist Shareholders and Their Proxies?
Here are three ideas for inspiring more lifelong learning with your board (and how to continue the learning from Owning Up):

IDEA #1: Appoint a “Leaders Are Readers Champion.” Click here to read the four-page chapter, Lesson 38, “Great Boards Delegate Their Reading” in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here to read Kent Stroman’s blog on this lesson. He quotes the U.S. Navy Seals, “Under pressure you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That's why we train so hard.”

IDEA #2: Ten Minutes for Governance. Many boards are featuring a “10 Minutes for Governance” segment at every board meeting—to keep lifelong governance learning on the front burner. Rotate the leadership among your board members and assign a relevant chapter for your next board meeting. The board member/facilitator can present five minutes of content and then ask the board (in groups of two or three) to discuss a key question for five minutes.

Click here to read the four-page chapter, Lesson 39, “Invest ‘10 Minutes for Governance’ in Every Board Meeting” in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here to read guest blogger John Walling’s color commentary. He quotes Richard Kriegbaum: “Leadership is a complex field and no one resource can meet all the needs of every leader in every situation.”

IDEA #3: Board Retreat Worksheet. At your next board retreat, select five or six key chapters from Owning Up and assign board members to each question. Provide a “Read-and-Reflect Worksheet” template for Owning Up or another governance book of your choosing. 

Board retreat templates for six governance books are included in “Tool #13: Board Retreat Read-and-Reflect Worksheets” (one of 22 tools) in ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board. To order the book, or to read more about this tool, click here for the blog post on Tool #13.

Bottom Line: Is your board “owning up” to its God-given responsibilities as stewards of your ministry?