Christian Business Leadership, Strategy

No amount of strategic planning could have predicted all that we would face in 2020: a global pandemic, workforce disruption, commodity shortages, supply chain disruption, suspension of public education, racial tensions, protests, Chinese tariffs, and economic recession—all amid an already volatile election year. Before even concluding Q1 of annual plans, many leaders were already pivoting priorities and building iterations of contingency plans. While some may throw up their hands and conclude a dynamic VUCA world negates the merit of strategic planning, environments like 2020 underscore the necessity of planning disciplines, agile frameworks, OODA loops, and PDCA cycles anchored in a resilient, vision-anchored scorecard! The point of annual strategic planning in business is to increase and institutionalize a team’s agility, not its rigidity or fragility.

We are in a position to build, expand, and create gospel-demonstrating platforms at a pivotal time in history. Culture, adaptability, resilient innovation, and high-performance teams are critical defining factors as we navigate our prevailing state of affairs. Where acute brokenness exists, “greater purpose”-minded stewards must build up businesses that are part of the solution! How did Jesus spend his last hours before the cross? He ensured His “Executive Leadership Team” had vision, clarity, and line of sight on essentials and prayed for their cross-functional unity (John 14-17).

Strategic planning is so deeply ingrained that most leaders set goals, but it is all too easy to neglect the actual process of meeting them. To execute strategy, leaders must set ambitious targets, translate them into specific metrics and milestones, make them known throughout the organization, and discuss their progress frequently. 

An Eternally Balanced Scorecard

First popularized by Kaplan and Norton, balanced scorecards drive alignment, execution, and measurement of strategic objectives across business functions. C12 has adapted the balanced scorecard methodology to build great businesses for a greater purpose. Keeping mission, vision, and core values central, we integrate ministry as an additional dimension for goal setting and tracking. Thus, our 5-Point Alignment Matrix (5PAM) incorporates ministry with the original four essential elements: operations management, organizational development, financial management, and revenue generation.

Annual Strategic Planning

In a Business as a Ministry (BaaM) framework, the goals and respective action plans for each dimension of the scorecard are all born from faith-driven core principles: mission (why do we exist?), vision (where are we heading and what do we hope to achieve?), and core values (what do we believe and how do we behave?) Companies that lack direction from foundational core principles suffer from compromised performance and unnecessary confusion due to competing agendas. 

Our envisioned future maybe a decade or more away, but our mission is an enduring commitment that doesn’t change. Annual strategic planning, on the other hand, typically uses a three- to five-year horizon.

Before we can effectively build strategic priorities for the year(s) to come, we should take a look back at how we’ve performed in the last year. We may be looking forward to putting 2020 in the rearview mirror, but assessing how well our company planned and performed in each of the five areas of the business will help us set up for a new decade.

C12 CEO Mike Sharrow explains how to complete the 5-Point Alignment Matrix (5PAM) rating assessment to expose risks and opportunities.


Team Alignment

Based on data from more than 4,000 respondents across 124 organizations, only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing strategy could list three of their company’s strategic priorities. To drive aligned strategy execution, we can build goals that are “FAST”: frequently discussed, ambitious, specific, and transparent. When corporate goals are embedded in ongoing discussions, team members can align their actions with the organization’s overall direction, and leaders can review progress, allocate resources, and prioritize initiatives. Strategies that influence day-to-day activities are simple enough for leaders at every level of the organization to understand, communicate, and remember.

After years of abandoning an intentional strategic planning discipline, C12 Members at Metromont found new confidence in strategic planning—just in time to unitedly weather COVID-19 disruptions.

A Pivotal Reminder for Planning

Considering the VUCA nature of the current marketplace, preparing a single plan or budget is a bit naïve. C12’s 5PAM Risk Mitigation Tool, Strategic Risk Discovery and Mitigation Tool, and Antidotes to VUCA worksheet enable the thorough exploration of options and contingencies, which is crucial to the selection of appropriate actions as future events unfold.  

Owner Directives

God calls us to manage the beautiful tension between diligent planning and faithfully trusting His providence. We do not want to barge ahead of God’s will for our businesses. We do, however, want to take responsibility and faithfully steward what He has assigned to us.

Being a steward implies managing something that belongs to someone else with that person’s best interest in mind. How do you do that? As you evaluate the business you manage through the lens of the 5-Point Alignment Matrix and in light of the vision for your company, what are the most strategic objectives to pursue next in your annual strategic plan?

Strategic planning isn’t just a one-time event; it is a deliberate and ongoing process for defining direction and allocating resources to fulfill a company’s unique mission and vision. 

Our Annual Strategic Planning Guide provides the five critical steps for your team to build a strategic plan that will stick and enable them to align and execute.