The demise of long-range planning

I was schooled in the practice of “long-range planning” in the late 20th century that called on organizations to plan 5, 10, and 20 years out.  We actually sat in board rooms in the 1990’s, planning for 2020–that far off reality in a new century (oh, the humor and hubris of thinking we could wrap our head around a reality so far off!).  Frequently, major decisions were relegated to the annual strategic planning event that took managers and leaders out of their context, created turf battles for expected budgetary implications, and silo-ed the decision making away from the contextual realities of new pressures from the community and culture, and immediate changes in resources.   The results of the long range planning were proudly bound in a beautifully prepared binder, never to be referred to again.

In today’s context, planning and decision making needs to be continuous, nimble and able to pivot with changes in culture, attitudes and, unfortunately, a simple tweet.   I try to study and learn from large companies and small non-profits that are learning what this new expression of strategic planning looks like. One thing is sure….it looks differently for different organizations, rather than being a one-size-fits-all methodology.  Nonetheless, there seems to be some best practices associated with each contextual methodology:  decision-making is taught and valued, organizational learning is on-going, “global” thinking is more important than silo-ed protection, strategic planning is continuous rather than annual, and reviews are about outcomes.  Overall, planning is driven by issues rather than by units within the organization.

What are the implications for the decision-making leader in these new days of planning?

1. Be deliberate and intentional about the decisions I make and how I make them,

2. Check my own assumptions and biases which drag me back to the familiar, and

3.  Be intentional about learning more about continuous issues-focused planning and how different it is from traditional strategic planning.



Try Coaching on for Size-free!


May 15-21, 2017 is International Coaching Week (ICW), an  annual weeklong global celebration of the coaching profession.  Certified professional coaches from throughout the world will be providing coach training and pro-bono coaching so that folks can learn more about how coaching can help them realize their greatest professional and personal potential.

Contact me through my website, or at  We can schedule a free 1/2 hour coaching session so you can see firsthand  how it works.  For more information on coaching, click here.   I would love to learn more about you and work with you to decide if coaching is right for you!

What is a Professional Coach?

A professional, certified coach is someone who has been trained, assessed, coached and credentialed for coaching individuals and organizations for greater potential and performance.  I am an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coach Federation, which is an international credentialing and resource organization for professional coaches around the world.  With these credentials, I met the standards of training, being mentor coached, passing an assessment and regular accountability with this association.  I also must uphold an ICF Code of Ethics as a member of this association.

Coaches are not counselors who focus solely on growth areas which need to be addressed. Coaches are also not consultants who offer expertise or advice as an expert.  Coaches walk alongside with us, ask powerful questions, listen deeply, and help us maximize our strengths for greater potential and performance.  I work with individuals as a life or professional coach.  I also work with nonprofit organizations and congregations.  In that wonderful work, you set the agenda and discover your own truths.  I’m here to help you with it!

Coaching has so many benefits!   You can click here for many FAQ’s about starting up a coaching relationship.  Typically, individual coaching is 30-45 minutes twice a month.  Group coaching is determined and designed around objectives and outcomes.  I can tell you more about pricing and contracts after a consultation and free session to experience coaching.  It’s all about the relationship and the resources.  Let’s start first with hearing from you!


Using Data for Decision-Making

How can leaders use data for good decision-making?  While for-profit corporations, healthcare systems and educational communities use data frequently, church bodies and non-profit organizations are slow to the table of using data for decision making.  This is partly because data takes time and resources to gather.  It requires “measurability” which is hard to determine with “soft” measures like satisfaction, effectiveness and transformation.  Data can also be misused without proper attention to bias, variables, and methods of gathering and reporting.

Data does not exist for the pure reason of collecting data.  It exists to resource organizations for identity, effectiveness, accountability, and equity.  Data isn’t just spreadsheets and surveys.   Data can be interviews, focus groups, informal feedback, trends and characteristics from oral conversations or printed materials.  Data can be “actionable knowledge” which leads to intentional and useful decisions for the organization.

Organizations are complex systems that require nimble and flexible standards of accountability that do not see data as the “end” but a “means to an end.”   Data should have a service role in organizational change.  For effective decision making, data needs to be more integrated and less silo-ed.  Your organization needs to help decision-makers to understand the benefits of data-collection to accomplish their goals.

Researchers have found, however, that many organizations do not know how to use data for effective decision making.  Far too often, in the organizations where I’ve worked, data is expected and collected without the education of decision makers for how to analyze and use the data for effective decision making.  In addition, far too often “data exercises” of collecting and referring to data are done without a clear understanding of how systemic issues or complex decisions might be informed by the exercises.

For the church body or non-profit seeking to be better informed by data for decision making, here are some questions to consider:

  • What gaps in information for decisions might be filled with data collection?
  • What data would provide that information? How would you find that information?
  • Who, inside or outside of your organization, has expertise in data collection and reporting? (What neighboring university, company, or community partner might have that expertise to share with your organization?  Doctoral students like me are always looking for organizations to study and research at no cost to you!)
  • How does your organization need to be trained in reading data and implementing data driven decisions?
  • How can the use of data reduce individual or institutional bias, roadblocks or stuck-ness? How can your organization learn the value of data in decision making?
  • Is data being used in your organization as an “end” or a “means to an end” for more effective decision making?
  • Is data being used in improper ways to justify personnel changes, program elimination or someone’s personal agenda? (If it is, the organization and good leaders will sniff this out and be reluctant to use data for healthier organizational change).


Organizational decisions emanate from problems and issues which are never linear and rarely obvious.  Problems range in complexity and definition.  In addition, decisions range in difficulty in frequency, configuration and significance. Data can be “actionable knowledge” that can inform decision makers’ understanding, accepting and implementing.   By thinking about these questions, you might discover how data can be a welcomed friend into your organization for greater missional effectiveness and innovation.