Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Titanic Planning

Bryn Hughes of Marc Europe, co-leader with David Cormack of the best training course I have ever been on - Management Skills for Christian Leaders back in 1990 - introduced us to different styles of planning based on those who journey on water. I have used this often and have changed it little over the last sixteen years:

Viking Planners
These operate with two fixed points. When the fjords melt they sail off to plunder and pillage. They need to be back before they freeze over again. Many churches operate in this way, he told us, only the fixed points are Christmas and Easter. There may as well be nothing else. No variety.

We need to learn that goals may change from year to year. Planning needs to be long-term.

Polaris Planners
These submariner-planners operate largely shrouded in mystery. You never know where they are going to pop up and what they are going to do when they get there. No sense of direction and plans are kept secret.

We need to learn that plans must be shared.

Single-handed sailor Planners
These head off into the blue. The plans are rigorous, the journey exciting but no-one follows them so they execute all the plans themselves. No team.

We need to learn that plans need to achieve community consensus or no-one will go with you.

Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria Planners
Columbus allegedly used to get his crew drunk and then set sail. When they came round they were too far offshore to swim back. This is a high-risk strategy. Some nutter-vicars can pull it off by personal charisma and take the congregation to a new world.

The rest of us need to learn to involve the whole team in vision building and planning. If you have some stake in the outcome you're more likely to go. The vision 'There must be something out there' will be attractive to only a few.

Titanic Planning
This is extreme scientific planning. Every i is dotted every t crossed. The time charts are set before us. The Sasco wall planners are filled in carefully. Meetings are minuted and everything adjusted. The trouble is, scientific planning can run into icebergs; it can plan for everything except what actually happens and life becomes something that takes place while you are planning something else.

I thought of this last night as a brilliantly planned evening began to fall foul of two unrelated events.

1. The person who had offered to do the LCD projecting had not been offering to bring a projector and the church one was booked out.

2. Twice as many people turned up as expected.

So whilst rather rushed at the last minute, the decision to move the meeting from the lounge into the church to solve problem 1 also solved problem 2.

Planning needs to be flexible, constantly asking 'What if?'

We just about made it although with a feeling, perhaps not totally without merit, that a higher power was in charge. Well done to the team. Don't praise me. I was only the pianist.

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