STRATEGY & Setting priorities is not the same as setting strategy via #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Church leaders have improved greatly in establishing Biblical values and mission statements. But strategy, real strategy which is actionable plans, is less clear to most congregants. has for 30+ years been helping churches create doable and successful plans for church health and growth. And, this includes bottom-up input from frontline leaders. Read this Harvard Business Review article to learn why.

Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Actually Strategies

One major reason for the lack of action is that “new strategies” are often not strategies at all. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what the firm is going to do and what it’s not going to do. Many strategies fail to get implemented, despite the ample efforts of hard-working people, because they do not represent a set of clear choices.

Many so-called strategies are in fact goals…

Others may represent a couple of the firm’s priorities and choices, but they do not form a coherent strategy when considered in conjunction. …

It’s not just a top-down process. Another reason many implementation efforts fail is that executives see it as a pure top-down, two-step process: “The strategy is made; now we implement it.” That’s unlikely to work. A successful strategy execution process is seldom a one-way trickle-down cascade of decisions…

Stanford professor Robert Burgelman said, “Successful firms are characterized by maintaining bottom-up internal experimentation and selection processes while simultaneously maintaining top-driven strategic intent.” This is quite a mouthful, but what Burgelman meant is that you indeed need a clear, top-down strategic direction (such as Hornby’s set of choices). But this will only be effective if, at the same time, you enable your employees to create bottom-up initiatives that fall within the boundaries set by that strategic intent.

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TIME MANAGEMENT & You have to say no to a lot of “good” things to have a “great” life. #How2DoIt

by Joshua Spodek, Inc  Magazine, 2/1/18

… We all have said “yes” to too many things sometime, not realizing that time doing one thing meant time not doing another. I still do, but less than before.

What does “too many things” mean? It means saying yes to mediocre or good things that crowd out great things. We all do it. Something seems great in the moment. We want it.

We don’t think about the resources it will take. Then when we do it we realize we can’t do something else we wanted to.

We make ourselves mediocre, ironically by chasing what we imagine is greatness.

When I can magically create more time and other resources, I’ll say yes to more things. Until then, I’ve learned to decline good things to have a great life.

Values and emotions

It’s a matter of values. Your values determine “good” and “great” for you.

The less you know your values–your emotional responses to things–the less you know how to decide where to allocate your resources, especially time, but also money, connections, relationships, energy, and so on.

The more you know your values, the more you can choose to improve your life–that is, to have more things in your life you like and less that you don’t.

Having limited time and finite resources means saying “no” isn’t declining one thing, but saying “yes” to something better, or at least enabling it.

It takes discipline, but also builds it.

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TRANSFORMATION & This Chart Reminds Us That People Value an Organization That Helps Change Lives

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This pyramidal chart demonstrates that one of the highest needs for people today is to change their life for the better. This is exactly what Christ offers and the Church participates in this better than it entertains. I have argued tirelessly for a need-based church in lieu of an entertainment-based ecclesiology. So read this Harvard Business Review article for additional validation.

The Elements of Value

by Eric AlmquistJohn SeniorNicolas Bloch, Harvard Business Review, 9/16.

The amount and nature of value in a particular product or service always lie in the eye of the beholder, of course. Yet universal building blocks of value do exist, creating opportunities for companies to improve their performance in current markets or break into new ones. A rigorous model of consumer value allows a company to come up with new combinations of value that its products and services could deliver. The right combinations, our analysis shows, pay off in stronger customer loyalty, greater consumer willingness to try a particular brand, and sustained revenue growth.

We have identified 30 “elements of value”—fundamental attributes in their most essential and discrete forms. These elements fall into four categories: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. Some elements are more inwardly focused, primarily addressing consumers’ personal needs. For example, the life-changing element motivation is at the core of Fitbit’s exercise-tracking products. Others are outwardly focused, helping customers interact in or navigate the external world. The functional element organizes is central to The Container Store and Intuit’s TurboTax, because both help consumers deal with complexities in their world.


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GENERATIONS & The Power of Grandparents to Pass Down Values #NationalPublicRadio

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/22/15.

The following is an experience I had while listening to National Public Radio (NPR).  Prior to having satellite radio, I would listen to the national news on NPR during my long trips.  One day they were interviewing a sociologist that had written a book about anthropologist’s Margaret Mead’s discovery that grandparents most efficaciously transfer values down to grandchildren, and do so better than parents (A House Divided, 2001, p. 51).

The interviewer wondered if there was an institution in our communities that could foster this inter-generational communication.  The author replied that he knew of no such local organization, and the interviewer suggested that perhaps the government could sponsor inter-generational Senior-Child Centers and these could be set up across America.

It totally flabbergasted me that they did not see the Church as a conduit (as I believe God intended) for inter-generational values transmission.

I was busy dialing and redialing, trying to call in and tell them the answer was “the Church, the Church!” when the segment ended.

I sat there alongside of the road in my car thinking that we must do a better job of promoting that our churches are the God-intended environments for intergenerational dialogue and communication.

So, I challenge my students and my clients to spread the news that the best place for inter-ministry dialogue is the conduit God intended:  His called-out ones 🙂

Here are some online articles (from National Public Radio and Autism Speaks) that exemplify how grandparents are making a difference in the lives of their grandchildren. and

VISION & Mission, Core-values, Core-competencies … what is the difference?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/15/15.

A student once shared he was trying to distinguish between these four types of statements: core-values, core-competencies, mission and vision.  I tried to simplify them (perhaps overly so), but I wanted to share that synopsis in case you were in a similar scenario.

Here is my response.


Hello ___student_name____,

I don’t blame anyone for getting bogged down today in word-smithing, for there are many writers writing on the same thing, and they often mix their terms.   But, I like most of you believe that a vision statement is important for answering the “why” of an organization.

Thus, here is how I would succinctly explain the difference between a mission statement, a vision statement, core values and core competencies.

Mission: Tells us the what.

Core-values: Tell us the why.

Core-competencies: Tell us the best how (based in part upon how the world thinks we can do it).

Vision: Pictures the future goal of the how.


in addition, here is a chapter from my book A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church on the difference between mission, vision and value statements.  As customary, if this helps you consider supporting the publisher and the author by purchasing the book: House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel

VISION & If I Read One More Platitude-Filled Mission Statement, I’ll Scream

“I advocate that executives develop a single 3-5 year strategic intent that is both aspirational and measureable.”
by Greg McKeown, 11/4/12, Harvard Business Review


How did you do? The largely indistinguishable statements make the task almost impossible. Such statements may still be considered “best practice” in some quarters but in so many cases they do not achieve what they were intended to achieve. Ironically, many “directional documents” are not fit for purpose: they do not provide direction.

At the risk of adding another consulting cliché to the mix, we can map the most common directional documents on a practical two by two to help us to make sense of them.


On the one hand, we have vision, mission and values statements that sound inspirational, but are so general they are almost entirely ignored. On the other hand, we have quarterly objectives we pay attention to, but these shorter term tactics can lack inspiration.

What becomes clear is that we are missing a directional document that is both inspirational and concrete. We need — using the language from Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad in their HBR piece — Strategic Intent. Going beyond their original definition, I advocate that executives develop a single 3-5 year strategic intent that is both aspirational and measureable. This can sound simple, but getting it right is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage, insight and foresight to create such strategic clarity. Consider the following guidelines…

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