“We have a clearer picture of our identity and our strengths. We feel more confident about what we can offer our local communities and the new partnerships which may be formed. We can see that a process of change begins with small steps. We came away with both an action plan for the short term and the structure for our long term development planning.”
The following endorsement was provided by the Black Isle Charge, a small network of Episcopal churches just north of Inverness. Working with a limited budget, their strategy day kick-started a one/five year period of organisational change for them. Further detail about how we approached our work together follows their words.
Why did you want to have a strategy day?
We knew as three churches in one charge (network) that we had to change as this was an urgent priority set by our Bishop. We also knew there had to be a fresh approach to mission — the same old, same old wouldn’t do, given the pressures on us and our limited personnel.
What had you tried that wasn’t working before we had our day together?
Bringing up change as an agenda item at a routine vestry (leadership team) meeting never allowed for the time or space to take strategy forward. Positive conversations and ideas generated in the smaller Mission and Ministry team seemed to run into the sand.
Where are you now? What is different? What insight(s) or idea(s) made a particular difference?
We have a clearer picture of our identity and our strengths. We feel more confident about what we can offer our local communities and the new partnerships which may be formed. We can see that a process of change begins with small steps. We came away with both an action plan for the short term and the structure for our long term development planning.
What worked well for you and what could I have done differently?
Having plenty time and being encouraged to be silent and reflective worked well as did the management of large group inputs and the smaller group sessions. All the excellent paperwork and handout preparation made us feel our agenda was clearly understood in advance of the day.
What would you say to another organisation in a similar position who is considering working with me?
Go for it! An expert consultant with a heart for community work is like gold-dust. Hannah prepared for our day so thoroughly and sensitively, managing to get us through a full programme with quiet personal authority and deep insight.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We consider this money very well spent.
“Go for it! An expert consultant with a heart for community work is like gold-dust. Hannah prepared for our day so thoroughly and sensitively, managing to get us through a full programme with quiet personal authority and deep insight… We consider this money very well spent.”
One day in-person team coaching and facilitation with the leadership teams of a network of three Episcopal churches, the Black Isle Charge, Scottish Highlands.
The Bishop (think “big boss”) for anyone unfamiliar with church systems) had written to all churches in his region, tasking them with spending a year thinking seriously about their five-year plan for development and growth, and then implementing whatever comes from that. Our strategy day kickstarted this process for them.
Within Bishop Mark’s letter were some directives and requests. We identified these in an early preparation meeting and used them to form the structural basis for our creative thinking and strategic planning. These were:
- Approach the task with courage and imagination
- Be thoughtful to tradition and historic theology (heritage, identity, and beliefs)
- Work hard and collaboratively in the context of a post-pandemic, environmentally friendly, and deeply prayerful future
The budget was limited given the Charge’s charitable status. It allowed for one full day together plus four days discovery and preparation work.
I would usually recommend meeting with a team regularly over the year as they moved into their plan. This would provide structure and also continue to provide an environment whereby the leadership team can regularly come together as a team and think strategically as a group before moving out again. However, limitations around budget meant that this commitment was not possible so our day together needed to be as productive as it possibly could for them, whilst leaving the the option of further days open.
We achieved as much as we did in this one day because everybody was invested in the process. They knew they needed to change and that this day was special for them so they threw their energies behind it. The two teams did self-initiated preparation work before the day. On the strategy day itself, simple initiatives like people bringing home backing helped to facilitate a “we are all in this together” atmosphere.
Relevant further information
The word charge conveys a sense of outward focus and being charged with a particular task or duty, hence its use. In a sense, the work I did with the leadership teams of the Black Isle Charge was asking them questions around an agreed area of focus that helped them to rediscover and reimagine the duties, cares and tasks that are under their particular charge. We considered this for them collectively as a network and also as three individual churches with particular traditions, attributes, and identities. It was, of course, all with a view to future development and growth.
This work is just beginning. The Charge went away with an action plan in place for things to put in place before Christmas and things to work towards longer-term. It was important for them to work towards shorter and longer term results so we incorporated this into our plan.
For a personal endorsement, please contact Gillian Newman at [email protected]
“On the strategy day itself, simple initiatives like people bringing home baking helped to facilitate a ‘we are all in this together’ atmosphere.”