The Theme of Planning
The Theme of Planning
NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of Weekly Briefings on nine major themes for implementing organizational change found in academic journals. We are looking for clues to answer the question, “Why do some men’s discipleship programs succeed while others languish or fail?” For now, I leave it to you to apply these general summaries to your men’s discipleship program. You can also apply the themes more broadly to change your business, your church, or even your family.
If you pick the wrong plan you are in for, what? A lot of hard work. If you pick the right plan, though, you are in for, what? A lot of hard work.
Because of the Fall, whatever plan we pick it’s going to be a lot of hard work. That’s why it is so crucial to pick the right strategy and plan, because if you pick the wrong plan you probably won’t know it for several years. By then you will have burned out your best players, and it will probably be a long time before people want to give it another try.
The Bible says,
To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:1-3).
Obviously, God determines how our plans turn out, but through a sanctified common sense we can improve our results. The fourth theme in organizational change literature is having a concrete, systematic planning process. Change initiatives necessarily begin with an idea, but then those ideas must be operationalized into a plan. Factors related to this theme found in the literature will now be introduced.
The adoption decision. After the information has been gathered and analyzed, a picture of a desirable future begins to emerge—the vision. At some point, the decision makers decide to move forward. Rogers (1995, p. 371) noted that just because the decision is made does not mean that implementation automatically follows. Instead, a series of factors must be executed in some semblance of order against sometimes powerful forces for the status quo (LeBrasseur, 2002).
Formulate the strategy. Formulating the strategy based upon the vision that emerged from information gathering and analysis is the second step of one model, after which the planning process can begin (Freedman, 2003). If vision is a picture of the future, strategy is what the organization will do to get there, and planning specifies the details of how it will happen and who will do what. Leading deals with developing overall direction, while managing details how strategy will be implemented through plans, budgets, and controls (Kotter, 2001). Therefore, strategy formulation is a leadership function. Implementation will be enhanced if strategy development is compatible to the existing organization, purpose is clearly expressed, the plan is doable, the plan gains broad management adoption, and it represents a synthesis of the old and the new (Okumus, 2003).
Developing the plan. Once the organization knows where it wants to end up and what is will do to get there, the implementation team can begin planning how to operationalize a concrete implementation plan. The planning stage includes determining in advance how to identify, resource, and execute projects (Freedman, 2003; McNish, 2002). The planning process should allow reservations to be expressed (Houston-Philpot, 2002). The change should align with the organization’s mission, and should be adjusted as the implementation is executed (Johnson et al., 2004).
In summary, planning is a major theme in bringing about organizational change. Related factors include making the adoption decision, formulating strategy, and developing concrete plans. Next week the theme of resources will be examined.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
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