LINKING THE PAST AND THE PRESENT
Strategic mapping for vision action
Note: the following is taken from an address by Major Carol Seiler on strategy development, given at TALC.
My job today is to paint some broad strokes and bring together the thinking of the past with the direction of the present…to show the integration of the Territory’s six strategic priorities.
Strategy mapping (see illustration below), with direct statements of strategy, demonstrates the interconnectedness of the work and sections of both THQ and DHQ. In order for the vision to become reality and the strategic priorities to become a streamlined focus, they must integrate with our working roles, actions and habits. This strategy map, with four perspectives and 12 key strategies, will help us look forward and enable us to use a matrix for decision-making. (This framework of four perspectives is adapted from Kaplan and Norton in Balanced Scorecard and will help us with the report card that Commissioner Bond wants by next September.)
This map shows in a straightforward manner how mission, vision, strategic priorities and action pieces fit together. To use it, first look at the broad perspectives, then look at the verb/noun main strategies in each area; then “drill down” in just one strategy in each perspective and see the direction it begins to take.
So, come with me on this journey of exploring the perspectives and strategies. Let’s start with the outcome the mission perspective. The overall perspective of mission has been stated for The Salvation Army in a variety of ways:
The mission statement “to preach the gospel and meet human needs without discrimination”.
General John Gowans (R ) used the phrase: “save souls, grow saints, serve suffering humanity.”
The vision statement developed in this territory “a church that is Biblically authentic, relevant and vibrant, culturally diverse and compassionately active.”
The bottom line of an outcome/mission focus is that The Salvation Army continually reflects, both corporately and individually, God’s kingdom values. This is a “faith-based” movement, it is a vital and relevant church, it understands the Bible as its basic tenet and because of that lives are changed. The strategic priority to “Make the Field a Priority” doesn’t just mean focusing attention on corps officers. It means that we want to be agents that reflect Christ, and agents of the change Christ works in an individual’s life through a personal and saving relationship. God’s kingdom values should be part of our response, no matter where we work.
Communities are impacted as lives are changed. As Christians begin to live in community as citizens of God’s kingdom on earth, acting as salt and light…there will be change. We must work diligently not to have Matthew 23 apply to us as an organization, as leaders–for example, not to ignore justice, mercy and faith (verse 23) while we tithe faithfully.
The third strategy in this mission perspective is to strengthen holistic ministry and the “core” of worship. Holistic ministry by definition includes corps and social service programs and the approach of Christ who understood the reality of physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs. As we look at our responses to these needs with material resources, as scripture requires of us, we need to think carefully about the stewardship of these resources.
There is value in feeding hungry people, responding to shelter needs, caring for young people who are hurting in and of itself because we claim that our mission perspective is to be Christian, to reflect God’s kingdom values regardless of whether evangelism occurs at that moment in time.
The “core” of worship relates to spiritual disciplines such as: prayer, worship, praise, study, faith in action…whatever specific formats or styles these take, the cultural context impacts the expression.
Drilling down further
Let’s take a moment to “drill down” in one area and think further. Look at “individual lives are changed. Communities are impacted.”
It’s a key strategy. “Making a difference” becomes a guiding principle. If lives are not changed, if communities are not impacted–by this Salvation Army in this location–why are we still there or what do we need to do differently? If we are responding with holistic ministry (physical, social, emotional and spiritual), and if the “core” elements of our worship are important (prayer, Bible study, discipling and accountability) then there must be change and impact somehow, somewhere.
We want to be asking ourselves daily are we making a difference? Would it matter if we left? Would the community notice?
Learning and Growth perspective
The strategies in this category primarily include the implementation (not just knowing or writing about, but doing) of principles and best practices in the key areas of our programs, our financial responsibilities and our care and nurture of our workforce. A resource for further development of a learning organization is The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge.
Why are learning and growth so important? Partly because we have to be looking at the overall impact of decisions. We have to be involved in systems thinking rather than short-term and linear thinking. We have to be challenging ourselves with a measurement against mission and working to improve what and how we use our resources.
We learn from other organizations and we share knowledge with others. We learn from business, from “industry standards” that are part of our work. We look at what makes sense, what works and we aren’t afraid to continually challenge ourselves to find the principles and best practices. We don’t stay looking at our past, glorying in our history. We look to the future.
Let’s drill down in one area, the strategy of implementing principles and best practices to increase the competency, diversity and effectiveness of our workforce. This has to include officers, staff, soldiers, advisory boards…all who participate as part of the workforce of accomplishing mission. The implications include:
Identify needs–What type of workforce do we need? How do we best prepare them to be competent? How do we gather the necessary diversity?
Recruit to needs–Are we being specific? Succession planning issues fall in this category. What leadership gaps are coming up and how do we plan for them?
Moral and ethical principles–Are we reflecting God’s kingdom values when we work with people? Things such as honesty, trust and respect are key. In a previous appointment, divisional finance council (DFC) determined that hiring employees for 29.75 hours/week and avoiding benefits by 15 minutes was wrong.
Assets–We need to look at what people bring to the workforce, not focusing on what they lack.
Human resources practices–It is vital that sound principles are implemented here, because of the significant material and psychological imbalance of power that we have as employer. That requires best practices. Our mission of reflecting God’s kingdom requires that we treat that imbalance of power very carefully.
The next level is process. It can be very damaging if we get stuck on process, but it can be very damaging if we ignore it. There are three major strategy elements:
Engage TSA as a vital faith-based community partner. This is where development and program elements come together. It relates to our commitment to reflect God’s kingdom values and changing lives and looking at how we live and work in the community in a manner that shows we are a partner.
Let’s drill down the strategy of streamlining with due diligence. Information from the officer survey, as well as past visioning material, shows this is the hinge of the cry “We want to see action.” The internal processes sometimes are, and sometimes seem to be, too slow, broken, or unnecessary. But we must be diligent. What happens in the smallest corps can impact negatively (more often than positively) the rest of The Salvation Army Western Territory, a California corporation.
Words such as simplify, eliminate and streamline were mentioned in 42% of the narrative responses to a question about what could be done to decrease administrative overload. THQ departments have been asked to evaluate and simplify, streamline. DHQ must follow suit without losing due diligence for the corporation and for the public scrutiny of those who trust us.
Another strategic priority is “direct resources to mission.” Someone asked a good question what resources are not going to mission? Everything we do is for the work of the Army. What does it actually mean?
We must include as part of directing resources to mission to increase income. Ideally, as the strategies of best practices in program and fiscal areas and workforce take hold, and as the strategies related to process help us to do our mission effectively and efficiently, we will see this increase.
The pursuit of economic justice is a strategy for resources. We must address how we handle the exchange of service with our workforce. Accountability and rewarding or acknowledging success is included, as we change a focus in the resources to directing to results.
So, in drilling down to allocate for results, and realign spending priorities, what do we find? Because we are mission-driven with outcomes that reflect the changes in lives, it makes sense to put resources where the evidence of God working in lives and communities can be seen. We have to be very careful that in doing that we understand that we are not buying “numbers” of people. This means that we put our resources into quality relationships and quality programs that allow people to make changes in their physical, social, emotional and spiritual lives. It may mean we spend less on the building and more on the quality of what goes on in the building, including the staff who deliver what goes on in the building.
Elements of this strategy include:
Accurate indicators of results–How will we know when lives are changed?
Moral and ethical principles in the handling of resources–Many of the policies are there for the protection of the Army and the individual. We must be “squeaky clean” in handling the vast material resources given to us.
Invest in the tools of the trade People. Directing resources to mission means having enough to pay competent staff and giving them the support staff needed to get the job done.
Be stewards of the assets given to us–We do not own the Army. None of us owns the Army. It is not our money, our buildings or our people. However, we are stewards and stakeholders with a responsibility to do the best with what we have.
Voluntary simplicity–in alignment with our mission and all else that we do, voluntary simplicity in spending the Army’s money becomes a guiding principle. We have to start living within our means, and too often we address that by cutting programs and people. This strategy is about bringing back into alignment the spending that has us living on Nordstrom budgets with Penney’s income. It’s about making lifestyle changes in a materialistic society that pushes us, but as a community of Christians, I believe we must take this seriously.
Realign budgets–Instead of using a percentage across the board, look at the results desired and invest in the areas that accomplish results. Reward those who handle this well and come in under budget.
FIT helping GAT –The eight or so Financially Independent Territories (FIT) contribute significantly to the Grant Aided Territories (GAT). We have an obligation, as Christians and as part of a global community, to take our world services commitment seriously. Christians in countries of the “north” (first world, developed nations) have global community responsibilities related to citizens of the “south” (third world, developing). We must deal with those obligations, and to do so in a way that addresses the global perspectives of justice, compassion, oppression of the poor.
Directing resources to mission is a struggle on a regular basis across the territory. We have to be asking the “meddling” questions. For example, what percentage of overall expense or of income is appropriate for administrative cost? Could we take the simple method of living within our means at DHQ and THQ to mean just 10% of field income? At present we’re told it’s about 17% averaged out across the territory.
However we say it, “income” needs to be greater than “outgo.” We must “purchase” from ourselves the best value for our dollars. Spending priorities deserve objective validation.
The economic task force will be examining tough questions. A budget review process will take place at THQ with the intention of keeping the principles and truly evaluating how to realign spending priorities. Each of four task forces (Economic, Program, Personnel and Fund Development) will include in their membership representatives from around the territory, and in their agenda will be strategic issues that move to increasing productivity for mission and include streamlining systems. The accountability is to have results visible on the field by September 2003.
It is important for this leadership group to have dialogue about these issues. Decisions made with limited input are not well made. The “contextualization” of decisions has to be included. Hopefully there is a better understanding of the interplay of these four perspectives and twelve key strategies. We are not moving ahead in isolation. The application of change has to happen in the daily “real” work that we do. We have to acknowledge that it is hard to take the time to do it differently, but we must focus on the mission, on the incredible trust that God has placed in the Army so far, and move forward.