Do you struggle to make a plan? Does the process seem like you are working in a foreign language? In a 2012 seminar I attended, James Galvin, Ph.D., offered helpful insight into the frustration I regularly encounter when helping ministries work through their strategic planning process. According to Galvin, we have a tendency to plan according to one of four main planning styles. One of the main challenges we experience is that 85% of the literature and models we use in helping us plan are primarily targeted to one style of planning that only approximately 15% of the population is wired to use. No wonder I experience frustration and looks of wonderment.

In the seminar, we explored four planning styles, they are:

  1. Objectives Oriented: This is the most common method of planning used by organizations and ministries. Most of the literature and “how to plan templates” are built on this style. The goal of Objectives Oriented planning is to develop long-range and intermediate goals and objectives. Joseph used this style of planning when he developed the 14-year strategic plan. The metaphor for this style is the bulls-eye of a target. The key question asked is: What are my 1-3 year goals and how can I manage progress toward them?
  2. Domain and Direction: This is a way of planning without setting explicit goals or objectives while still acknowledging direction. Paul is a good example of this style. While he had a vision to go to Macedonia – his style was to go and preach the Gospel, wherever he was. The metaphor for this style is a map. The key question asked is: Where am I on my strategic map and how can I move forward this week?
  3. Task Oriented: Lists, task, or activities to accomplish help define this style of planning. The Biblical example of Task Orientated is Nehemiah. He broke the job of rebuilding the wall into 30 chunks, each specifically assigned to a family. The metaphor for the Task Oriented planner is a “To Do List”. The key question asked is: What is on my plate and which are the most important tasks to complete this week? 
  4. Present Oriented: This way of planning responds to what is happening in the moment. The Biblical example is Peter saying, “I have an idea. Let’s build three booths!” The metaphor for the Present Oriented planner is the Post-It Note. The key question is: What is the best use of my time right now?

Working through these four styles I realized that I do have a preferred personal style. I am a Domain and Direction planner. Realizing how I am wired is important but I still need to be able to plan to use any of the four styles that is best suited for the team I am coaching or the person I am encouraging. 

It’s valuable to know your preferred style of planning. It’s also valuable to know and understand the planning style of those on your team, or the leader of your team. Think about how you and your spouse plan your vacation. Any insights?

Galvin, J. (2012, April). What's your planning style? Skills & tools. Seminar given at Christian Leadership Alliance Conference, Orlando, FL.

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