Discover more from Jaffarian's Little Newsletter on Nonprofits & Research
Outsiders see things that you don’t.
Invite an outside consultant to facilitate your strategic planning.
Long ago, in days of yore, I was editorial production coordinator for a leading church consultancy, the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth (CEFI). One day the director, Carl F. George, dropped onto my desk a draft of a new piece of training curriculum for pastors and church leaders, for me and my team of writers to refine and develop. The title was, Company Eyes.
Company Eyes? What on earth? Carl explained that it came from the experience of his (big) family. If company was coming for dinner, and the family was cleaning up the house to get ready, they would encourage the kids to look with “company eyes” – to look for things that needed cleaning or tidying that they were used to seeing day by day and paid little notice to, but that their guests would recognize as messy. The curriculum was to help pastors and church leaders to look at their church differently and think about what visitors or outsiders might see, that might be helpful and welcoming, or distracting and off-putting. It was like an early form of UX/CX analysis.
This is about why you want to bring in an outside consultant to facilitate your organization’s strategic planning. Maybe not every year, but from time to time, yes. (BTW, you do conduct a strategic planning process every year, right? Maybe I’ll write another newsletter on that sometime).
The goal is to get a strategic plan that everyone understands, everyone uses, and that brings unity and inspiration to the whole team. An outside consultant:
+ is objective; has no pet projects to protect, and no pet peeves to attack.
+ helps the organization see itself as other outsiders see it – like potential funders, staff, or partners.
+ changes the communication and power dynamics in the room – which allows for more of a team-built and team-owned plan.
+ allows the organization to avoid or retire worn-out, ineffective wording.
+ can keep it concise, and thus powerful.
+ asks the hard, and important, questions – like, why is that elephant in the room? How did it get in here? Don’t you want to get it out?
Shameless promo: yes, I do that. You know where to find me. But so do other good consultants. If you don’t call me, call someone.
By the way, we changed the name of that curriculum piece from Company Eyes to What Visitors See. It’s one of the few times that my idea was better than Carl’s (he’s a brilliant guy; believe me, it was a great privilege to work with him).
love, joy, peace … Michael
www.michaeljaffarian.com. I’m a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. I’m keen to learn about your organization, and you might be interested in learning more about what I do. Let’s have a conversation. Write to me, people! email@example.com.
Vol. 1 No. 50