Guiding Coalition Examines Vision Process

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Lt. Colonel Sharon Robertson – 

The territory’s Guiding Coalition met this past week to examine and update the progress of the “vision” process throughout the territory. Comprised of officers, employees and soldiers from all geographic regions, the Coalition is charged with responsibility to “drive the change process” within the territory.

“We must change how we think and work,” said Lt. Colonel Sharon Robertson, assistant chief secretary and coalition chair. “There is a new mindset within territorial leadership designed to empower the field and vitalize the Army. It requires us to see the Army the way God wants it to be, then develop strategies to implement his design.”

Following the vision rallies in each division, every corps is expected to engage in the vision process based on the Army’s Mission Statement and the unique commitments of corps/unit visions to particular communities. They are to be submitted by March 1. Each division will then attempt to establish key themes within the corps statements and develop a vision for the division.

The Guiding Coalition will receive these statements and interact with territorial leadership in the creation of a territorial vision. Each headquarters unit will also be responsible for developing its own vision statement to guide the manner it seeks to relate to programs within the jurisdiction and to the field.

Coalition members engaged in discussion of broad issues pertaining to the way the Army operates. Much discussion concerned the role of the Army’s social service programs in corps and divisional settings. Members wondered about the degree to which soldiers have ownership of social service programs within corps or whether these caring ministries were simply delegated to professionals with little corps linkage. Reports indicated that soldiers throughout the territory seemed to be enthusiastic about reaching into the communities through our social services to reach the lost.

Another area of considerable discussion concerned the notion of empowerment. “I believe empowerment is achieved when the ideas of people are honored,” stated coalition member Jim Black. Members explored the difficulty of transforming an organization without the involvement of those who make up the organization. In regard to this, the work of John Kotter and his book Leading Change was noted. He stated that empowerment follows the creation of a sense of urgency, the development of a guiding coalition, the creation of a vision and strategy, and communicating the change vision. Empowerment occurs when a “broad base of people take action to remove barriers to implementation of the change vision.” Kotter noted four obstacles to empowerment, which he labeled structures, skills, systems and supervisors.

Inasmuch as the vision process must operate within the parameters of the Army’s International Mission Statement, that statement itself was closely examined. Robertson asked the group to “look at the Army through the eyes of a missionary–as one sent on a mission by God to address a particular task. What is God’s vision for the Army?” she asked. Each phrase of the statement was addressed, and it became immediately clear that even a statement which on the surface appears straightforward can stimulate divergent interpretations.

Captain Terry Camsey asked: “Is what we want to be what we need to be in order to accomplish our mission?” He observed that we can dream a new vision for the Army from the inside looking out, but “we must see ourselves from the context of the outside world as well.” This requires us, he continued, to examine relevant data within our communities and explore trend lines extending into the future.

In examining future issues, the Coalition will also seek to examine the trends and concerns identified by each corps/unit on the “blue sheets” within each of the vision kits. It will recommend responses to these concerns to territorial leadership. These sheets are to be submitted to the Coalition by May 1.

Camsey also introduced a visioning model based on the acronym NEWSS–standing for nurturance, evangelism, worship, service to the body (pastoral care) and service to the community (meeting needs). The members were asked to wonder what they would like people to say about their personal experience in being a Salvationist. As unproductive or unsuccessful experiences are reported, they stimulate discussion concerning a vision to change those experiences into something much more positive. What we want to do is achieve a balance in each corps that will result in healthy growing churches.

Prior to its next meeting, Coalition members will continue to examine their own visions for the Army and seek to determine how those statements will facilitate positive change.

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