Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Strategic planning

We spent a lot of time in November and December working with many people in the diocese developing a 3-year strategic plan. It’s a different process from what would happen in the west. Certainly we gathered all the “wish lists” from each project and parish (about 24 managers / pastors involved in this) and we also did some filtering of them, dispensing with the less likely. We took an overview of the work of the diocese and did SWOT analyses.
However, the final part, where we would cost the plans, match against likely / possible funding and then select priorities was missing. In reality, it is not worth the effort to draw up very precise plans : things are just too unpredictable! A few weeks ago we had a long and vigorous discussion with a British friend about this : should we have refined the plan and selected priorities for each parish and project, producing a much clearer statement of intent with budgets and timescales? As I look back now over the first 5 months of the year and the plan, I feel that our approach has been vindicated. We have seen :
- a minor earthquake, with the corresponding diversion of time and effort and changing of plans
- an offer from an NGO to operate 2 of our projects on a subcontract basis
- funding for a school, which we had been told was approved, withdrawn indefinitely
- the likelihood of getting a donation of $50,000 for our dispensary
- the cancellation of our large teacher training programme at Easter
None of these were foreseen even in December, yet all requiring significant changes to our activities. It’s better to be prepared and flexible than to spend too much time in planning.
It’s noticeable that the government is putting a lot of effort into training various leaders in local government and in education in planning. While we live in an environment that is highly changeable and so full of need and opportunity, any plans need to be held lightly.

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