Tag Archives: Strategic Planning

Quick Review: The 3 Big Questions For A Frantic Family

I read Patrick Lencioni’s The 3 Big Questions For a Frantic Family over the past couple of months in different sittings.  In short – it’s a strategic planning book for families, which sounds horrible and boring. But it’s not. If you didn’t know, I’m a strategic planning professor right now – but that doesn’t mean it’s a niche book.

What I like about this book, like a lot of Lencioni’s leadership fables is there is a simplicity that makes organization and leadership doable, sustainable, and worthwhile. It’s a great book not because it’s sophisticated, but because it’s simple in its strategy for helping parents take greater ownership in stewarding their family in line with their sense of purpose and values.

The 3 questions are basically?

  1.  What makes our family unique?

    This is a simple way of doing value and identity work. It’s important to get a working understanding of what your family is about and what you’re committed to. So this is a “vision and values” type of question but it’s framed simply.

  2.  What is our top priority right now (rallying cry)?

    This is a simple and family version of the rally cry/thematic goal Lencioni unpacks in Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars. But this is one of the most helpful things and I actually have utilized this concept in trying to lead our family.  Right now our family rallying cry is, “To increase our family capacity and live with more joy and peace in a challenging city.”  It’s a 2-6 month big picture goal that you can make significant progress towards that’s crucial for your family vision and values.  A part of this is establishing some objectives and measurements to help you know you are going the right direction. He talks about defining objectives and standard objectives. Standard objectives are the more ongoing categories of life.

  3.   How will we talk about these questions and help them stay alive?

This is a plan for communication and accountability.

So in some ways, it’s not rocket science. Lencioni does a good job illustrating that parents fail to exercise the same common sense and skills they might know in their work in the context of their family lives.  He’s not advocating people lose the family vibe, but to just take the organizational leadership skills crucial to parenthood a little more seriously for the sake of more robust and value driven lives.

Go to tablegroup.com and download a 4-page summary as well as a worksheet you can use if you want to do some planning and prioritization for yourself or your family.

I’ve noticed that while many families may make some specific choices for the sake of values, most do not really plan intentionally in light of their true or desired values. We all save for vacations, but few are planning for family connection and intimacy. That’s where value driven planning can make a huge difference.


Quick Review: Switch

A few weeks ago I read Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.  I was a big fan of Made to Stick so was motivated to read this book.

On the face of it, the content reminded me a lot of the book Influencer by Joseph Grenny as the six sources of influence covered in that book can be found in different places in Switch.  Switch has a more narrative approach and in someways is more simple and memorable in my opinion.

That dominant metaphor used is that of a rider directing an elephant on a path.  The rider represents the rational mind, the cognitive aspect of a person.  The elephant is the emotionally driven part of a person that supplies the motivation and energy.  The path is the context and circumstances that impact the degree to which new behavior is easy or difficult.

As they dive deeper into the book, they include the broader categories that are found in the six sources of influence.  So individual and corporate motivation, ability, and structure are represented as they unpack the elephant metaphor.

In short – their conclusions are that some people problems are not people problems, but situation problems.  That behavior can change when different key variables are changed that impact behavior.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book deals with motivation and the conclusion was from research that will power or that type of motivation for change is an exhaustible resource.  Or to put it succinctly, self-control is an exhaustible resource.  Meaning you can only say no a certain number of times before you will give in unless you have time to replenish that capacity.  It’s why people are more prone to various temptations when they are tired or after they have had to engage in rigorous decision making for a time.   Another book I’m reading calling the The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Arielly had an appendix that affirmed this very thing.

All this to say – there is a lot behind why people do or do not do things.  To lead people or even to lead ourselves, it is helpful to understand what things make the difference in helping the most number of people, or ourselves, get to the behavior that’s desired or needed.  This is critical, not so we can manipulate, but so we can mature and serve others and communities or teams move towards maturity and healthy behavior.  So there’s a lot of application – from planning, to organizational leadership, to ministry, leadership development, education, training, and yes – parenting!


Quick Review: Taking People With You

I just finished David Novak’s book Taking People With You.  I am currently in the process of helping coordinate a large organizational change both in structure, culture, and in leadership roles and placement.  I was intrigued by the title of the book.  Then I found out it was written by the CEO of YUM, the company than includes Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell and I got excited – probably disproportionately so.

For one thing, when it comes to American Fast Food or “Quick Serve” Restaurants, KFC and Pizza Hut are right up there at the top of the list in the Philippines along with McDonalds.  So KFC and Pizza Hut are in my face.  I have to work a little harder to find a Taco Bell – but the products and tastes are so substantially different in Manila that I steer clear of that option.

Anyway – this company spun off from Pepsi Co. in a unique set of circumstances into its own company.  That made for a lot of interesting leadership stories and nuggets.  Besides some of the larger principles, I probably just enjoyed hearing the stories behind crystal Pepsi, the new KFC Colonel Sanders logo/brand, failed breakfast menus at Taco Bell, and popular Pizza Hut promotions. A lot of them were fascinating to me.

This book is not a research book, it’s an individual leader’s leadership philosophy and it reads that way.  So you get a lot of values, nuggets, and principles throughout.  There’s a lot of things borrowed from big names like Jim Collins or Jack Welch, but there’s a lot of wisdom with stories and anecdotes that back them up.

Maybe what I liked most besides the stories was that this book included several “tools” where the author shares a concrete and practical management tool to accomplish some particular task or goal – both developmental and strategic.  Some reinforce vision development.  Some get after self-awareness.  But some really provide helpful approaches to aligning employees, building trust, building unity on teams, getting honest dialogue, and a host of other things.

Many people teach all these leadership things.  Finding appropriate and practical tools or exercises to reinforce them in action is more challenging.  But Novak has some good ones here.  Last month I designed one such tool on vision and alignment for a class I’m teaching.  In this book, Novak has a very similar tool that I think was better and easier to use and I plan to use it next year.  But there’s an easy 4-5 tools I plan to file away and use in my leadership efforts working with teams or individuals.  In actuality, many of these “leadership tools” are great small group activities so there are broader applications than even he hints at in the book.

If you’re new or unfamiliar to the leadership theory or business world, this book actually could serve as a good intro or survey for you because he covers so much ground and references so many of the top names in the field.  If you have been around the block and are well read on leadership dynamics, then the practical tools and applications may be intriguing to you as you continue to explore effective ways of mobilizing people for effectiveness on a mission.

But if you just want to read or listen for stories about Pepsi, Pizza, KFC, and Taco Bell – then I think you’ll enjoy the read 🙂


Quick Review: Holy Conversations

A year ago I read Holy Conversations:  Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations by Gil Rendle & Alice Mann but recently re-read it in preparation for teaching a Strategic Planning class.  I have used this as a text book two years in a row because of some of the unique perspectives that it offers and it was one of the few resources that I found that most captured some of my own personal theology and philosophy of planning.

There are more technical, more strategic, and more business oriented strategic planning books out there, even for ministry organizations.  One of the key tenets of this book is that for churches and ministries, planning is a spiritual process.  It’s a means to a clear spiritually led vision.  But its the means that is deeply spiritual as well – and that is what separates the authors’ approach to planning from much of what typical churches and ministries do.

The idea of “Holy Conversations” speaks to the process of planning as a process and product of community discernment in the context of a God given vision.  That is a powerful dimension to the planning process – seeing it as a structured way of allowing everyone to contribute to and share in a meaningful and collaborative effort to a God given mission.  The authors emphasis “Discernment” as the key task of leaders and spiritual communities and illustrate how discernment can be facilitated and explored at different stages of the planning process.  I really like this emphasis because it puts an onus on wisdom and not linear task achievement.

There still is a lot of content in here that is church-centric like many other church oriented planning resources – so plenty of content related to dealing with church boards and the like.  That’s great for pastors and those for who the shoe fits.  So not everything in the book may be relevant, but there is a good foundation for helping develop a more holistic and community driven  approach to planning that honors both God, the church or ministry, and those that are being served by the ministry.

So if strategic planning has become stale, too task driven, and if organizational leadership has lost meaning – I think this could be a helpful resource to refresh your vision and attitude towards the planning process.  There are many out there that hate planning because they hate meetings – in part because it’s detail oriented and lacks meaning.  But the planning process can be a structured journey of community spiritual formation and leadership development such that everyone experiences the journey in a very meaningful way – both individually and corporately.






New Review: Advanced Strategic Planning

A couple months ago I read Aubrey Malphurs’ Advanced Strategic Planning and I wanted to share a few thoughts on it as a resource.  Malphurs is a Dallas Theological Seminary guy who has produced tons of resources and books on ministry leadership and the church.  If there’s a topic related to leading the church, he’s probably written a book about it.

Without detailing the book, one of the strengths of the book is the big picture perspective of when and how churches need to begin leading towards change.  It answers the question when a church needs to lay the foundation for the next vision.   Churches should not wait until they are in decline or even plateau to begin leading towards a new vision and plan for the future.

Malphurs has strong content related to churches forming core values, mission statements, vision statements, and related to the types of partnerships needed to lead change.  I did not find some of the tactical content quite as strong or helpful, but there’s helpful content there too related to implementation though I don’t think that is the clear strength of the book.

The book leans heavily towards the pastor side of things as opposed to organizational leadership.  It has much content related to church boards so that’s why it probably is extra helpful for pastors, but it had some good stuff for organizational leaders as well.

Strategic planning is something I’ve noticed a lot of people are over confident in – they think they know more than they do and they end up doing a lot of planning that ends up somewhat disconnected from core values and identity and leads to overly pragmatic solutions.    A book like this or others is helpful for people to shape their thinking and grow their ability to conceptualize the big picture and ground tactical implementation in that big picture.