May 23, 2016

The Key to Strategic Implementation? Communication

“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.”(Acts 2: 14)

It must have been breathtaking to be there at the first Pentecost, to hear God’s Word come to life in a mass of languages. However, it was after that Holy Spirit rush that the conversion began. When Peter communicated the Good News, 3,000 people were baptized on the spot.

I am guessing there were no tongues of fire dancing at your annual meeting, but perhaps proposals about new programs sparked enthusiasm for the coming year. If there has been a lull in progress since that time, consider the role communication plays in implementing good ideas.

I was once part of the leadership team at a small but growing Roman Catholic university. Pushing for the school to create its first comprehensive strategic plan was the marketing director. Her voice and direction strongly guided the implementation of many strategic initiatives – even the start of the school’s first football team.

“But she’s the marketing director,” I thought. “What does she know about football?”

What I learned was that communication is a vital connection between strategic planning and implementation. If every department/person who has a role to play articulates what he/she/they will do and when, the work has a much better chance of actually being accomplished - and with system-wide coordination and cooperation.

Which brings me back to your parish. Are plans for new or expanded ministries being described and promoted?

The first step in strategic implementation is to describe ministries/activities/projects/events in writing. If the person leading a particular ministry is not a gifted communicator, find someone to take on the writing assignment as a “reporter” who will interview the right person to find answers the “5 W’s and H” of journalism: What, Who, Where, When, Why, and How. 

The 5 W’s and H provide the essentials about how implementation will work and why the changes are worth supporting. This is vital information for every ministry of the church to share months or at least weeks before people are expected to participate. This promotes calendar coordination and helps insure that volunteers and other resources won’t be spread too thin or be gobbled up before all priorities are adequately addressed. 

So many priorities hit in the fall… annual giving campaigns, Christian formation, outreach programs. NOW is an opportune time of year for leaders of these efforts to spell out their plans, recruit their volunteers, and begin communicating the exciting activities ahead. 

If your parish does not have an active communications ministry, consider forming one. Its members can serve as the “reporters” and find creative ways to communicate information. As is so often the case, ECF Vital Practices can help! For instance, last September, an article by Brendon Hunter shared five resources for communications ministry (click here).

You might be surprised how much energy and enthusiasm arise simply because people know what’s going on. Communication is a key to successful strategic implementation. 

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