Strategy: How You Do What You Do

Remember the last time you sat down to do a jigsaw puzzle? The work proceeds in two basic steps. First, you put the edges together. Finding all of the little pieces with straight edges is the easiest way to begin. As you piece together the top and bottom and sides, the puzzle is framed up within a relatively short period of time.

The second part of the process is now ready to begin, because you have defined the basic shape and outline of the puzzle. Before building the frame, it would have been exceedingly difficult to put many of the middle pieces together. But now, all of those elusive jigsaw shapes and unclear image fragments have perspective and boundaries.

Even though the frame makes the puzzle-building project easier, more work remains. You pick up awkward shape after awkward shape, twisting and turning them and turning again, until you get just the right fit and-snap-the image develops, one piece at a time. After a long journey that may take days or even months, the final image emerges.

Articulating your church’s vision is like working on a jigsaw puzzle.

Auxano co-founder Will Mancini developed the Vision Frame concept to show you how to articulate your vision the same way you would build a puzzle: in two basic steps.

This excerpt of SUMS Remix continues to introduce the Vision Frame, guiding you to first think about the four outer edges – the components of your church’s identity that frame everything else you do. These edges anchor the second part of the process (a future SUMS Remix), which involves the direction of living and articulating the dynamic vision of your Church Unique through the daily work of turning and twisting the pieces of the organization. The edges of the frame are definitive, but the middle of the puzzle is dynamic. The fixed nature of step one, building the frame, anchors the fluid nature of step two, where your vision picture slowly develops into the better intermediate future God has entrusted to you.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Move by Patty Azzarello

Move is your guide to mobilizing your whole organization to take your business forward. Whatever your needed transformation may be: a new initiative, a new market, a new product, your fresh strategy is up against a powerful foe: an organization’s tendency to stay very busy and completely engaged  with what it’s already doing. This book shows you how to cut through resistance and get your team engaged and proactively doing the new thing!

Author Patty Azzarello draws on over twenty-five years of international business management experience to identify the chronic challenges that keep organizations from decisively executing strategy, and to give you a practical game plan for breaking through. Leaders tend to assume that stalls in execution are inevitable, unchanging parts of the workplace—but things can change. At the heart of every execution problem is the fact that there simply are not enough people doing what the business needs. This guide shows you how to get your entire organization on board—remove the fear, excuses, and hurdles—and uphold the new pursuit against distractions and dissent.

No transformation can succeed without suitable engagement from the whole organization, but building engagement can be difficult, uncomfortable, and tentative. This book shows you how to get it done.


The absence of strategy, as Will Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church. By healthy, he means that there is some foundation of spiritual unity in the church and trust among the leaders.

Unfortunately, many churches think that being more effective is simply a matter of trying harder, being more obedient, or praying more. The battle belongs to the Lord, but the Lord also asks us to prepare the horse for battle. In other words, kingdom effectiveness and missional movement require more than spiritual unity; they require strategic clarity.

The strategy is the piece of the Vision Frame that brings this crucial dimension. This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits into the mission. 

Strategies are often stated in end goals. An end goal, no matter how inspiring it is, is not enough. The “Middle” is the important part.

It’s easy to get excited at the beginning and define long-term goals at the end. It’s the “Middle” that’s the problem. It’s hard to keep an organization focused on doing something new and difficult for a long time. Since real transformation takes time, you need a strategy to maintain execution and momentum through the Middle.

A good strategy defines what you will do. What you will do describes what happens in the Middle. While you are in the Middle, without the right measures that define your strategy in a concrete way, you can’t know if you are making progress. And if you can’t see that you are making progress, you will most likely not keep going. Everyone will stay busy with what they are already doing, and your transformation will stall. The leaders and the team need to get fiercely aligned on the specific, clearly defined, resourced, and sponsored outcomes that need to happen through the Middle to bring about the long-term success of your strategy.

A big reason for the stalls that too often occur in the Middle is that many organizations mistake listing end goals as a strategy. You become excited about the wonderful achievement at the end, but there is nothing in the definition of that end goal that tells you specifically what to do, which way to go about it, what problems you need to solve, or what you need to fix, change, stop, or invent to get there – these are all things that need to happen in the Middle.

A strategy must describe what you will do, including how you will measure and resource it. Strategy must clarify specific action.

Patty Azzarello, Move


Strategy Defined

Strategy is the picture or process that demonstrates how the church will accomplish its mission on the broadest level. Strategy answers the question, “How do we do what we do?” It is a flashlight that shows new people clear next steps. It also sets the expectation of involvement for all members.

The strategy is like a container that holds all of your church activities into one meaningful whole. Without this picture individuals within the church will forget how each component fits into the mission. They will be lost in a programmatic soup of good but random activity.

Think of strategy as a pattern of participation. It reveals places and rhythms of being involved. It is the church’s operational logic. It shows how every major environment (time and place at church) is a part of a discipleship pathway. Strategy is the missional map or “where Joe goes” at the church.

Strategy Reminders

  • The strategy defines your unique church model
  • Without strategy, programs are not “vertically related” to the mission
  • Without strategy, programs are not “horizontally related” to one another
  • In most churches, 50% of worshipers do nothing other than worship
  • The two greatest barriers to involvement are, “I don’t know how” and “No one invited me.” Clear strategy removes these barriers.
  • Generally speaking, churches with fewer higher quality ministries have better results
  • Strive for simplicity with strategy – good programs are enemy to great programs
  • Over-programmed churches should chart a 1-3 year alignment journey
  • The vision team should be able to draw the strategy on a napkin
  • Use a visual strategy icon in all church communications 

Gather your team and give everyone a large napkin and a pen. Ask them to pretend that they are having coffee with a key leader in their ministry. Give them 90 seconds to draw a picture of how your church is called to help people mature in their faith as disciples, using as few words as possible. Don’t let them look at each other’s napkin until everyone else is finished, then tape them next to each other on a wall.

Discuss together: How close are they to the same picture? Are the words used the same or different? What steps are needed to clarify a shared strategy among your team?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 115-3, released March 2019.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<


The 1st Discipline of Guest Experiences: Strategy

Organizations that want to produce a high-quality Guest experience need to perform a set of sound, standard practices. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, in their book Outside In, have developed six high-level disciplines which can be translated into Guest experiences: strategy, Guest understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture.

An overview of all six Disciplines can be found here. These disciplines represent the areas where organizations that are consistently great at Guest experiences excel.

If you want to deliver a great Guest Experience, these disciplines are where you need to focus, too.


This is your game plan. It’s a set of practices for crafting a Guest experience strategy, aligning it with the organization’s overall attributes and brand attributes, and then sharing that strategy with team members to guide decision-making and prioritization across the organization. The strategy discipline is critical because it provides the blueprint for the experience you design, deliver, manage, and measure.

Strategy Practices

  • Define a guest experience strategy that describes the intended Guest experience.
  • Align the strategy with overall organization strategy.
  • Align the strategy with the organization’s brand strategy.
  • Share the strategy with all team members (distribute documentation, conduct training sessions, review and evaluate practices).

Great Guest experiences don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of countless deliberate decisions made by every single person in your Guest Experience teams on a daily basis. To align those decisions, team members and partners need a shared vision: a Guest Experience strategy.

Without that vision, team members are forced to set out on a random journey, and their decisions and actions will inevitably be at odds with each other despite all the best intentions.

You have a choice.

You can continue to let your team members wonder what they should do to improve the Guest Experience and flounder as they try to coordinate their own activities with those of other teams.

But the better path is to guide them toward a common vision and facilitate concerted efforts by crafting a Guest Experience strategy that clearly defines the intended experience.

Application to ChurchWorld

  1. Your Guest Experience must support your overall organizational strategy
  2. Your Guest Experience must align with your brand
  3. Your Guest Experience must be specific, clear, and memorable

Tomorrow: How to differentiate your Guest Experience in the minds of those you are trying to reach and impact.

Want to know more about the Guest Experience in your church?

  • Learn why the Guest Experience matters here
  • Contact me here
  • Read up a little here

Execution: Turning Strategy into Performance

You want your organization to be the best it can be at what is does – to be a winner.

How do you make that happen month after month, year after year? A brilliant strategy or a killer brand isn’t enough.

You need to be able to articulate your strategy in simple terms and then consistently put it into action.

Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down, learning adds no value, people don’t meet their goals, and the revolution stops dead in its tracks. What you get is change for the worse, because failure drains the energy from your organization.

 – Larry Bossidy

3 Keys to Execution

Execution is a discipline, and integral to strategy – People think of execution as the tactical side of an organization. That’s the first big mistake. Tactics are central to execution, but execution is not tactics. Execution is fundamental to strategy and has to shape it.

Execution is the major job of the organization leader – An organization can execute only if the leader’s heart and soul are immersed in the organization. Execution requires a comprehensive understanding of the organization, its people, and its environment.

Execution must be a core element of an organization’s culture – Execution doesn’t work unless people are schooled in it and practice it constantly. It doesn’t work if only a few people in the system practice it. The discipline of execution has to be part of an organization’s culture, driving the behavior of all leaders at all levels.

Leadership without the discipline of execution is incomplete and ineffective.

Without the ability to execute, all other attributes of leadership become hollow.

Adapted from Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

Seven Rules for Successful Strategy Execution

Most organizations’ strategies deliver only 63% of their promised value (HBR study, 2005).

Strategy Performance Gap


Leaders press for better execution when they really need a more sound strategy. Or they craft a new strategy when execution is really the weak spot.

Leaders can avoid these errors by viewing strategy and execution as a linked pair.

Here are seven rules for successful strategy execution:

  1. Keep it simple – avoid drawn-out descriptions of lofty goals. Instead, clearly describe what your organization will – and won’t – do.
  2. Challenge assumptions – ensure that the assumptions underlying your long-term strategic plans reflect reality, not wishful thinking.
  3. Speak the same language – everyone on the team, from senior leaders to front-line team members, need to have a common framework for assessing performance.
  4. Discuss resource deployment early – challenge teams to be realistic about when and how they will execute the strategy. Push them earlier rather than later for the most feasible plans.
  5. Identify priorities – delivering planned performance requires a few key actions taken at the right time, in the right way. Make strategic priorities explicit, so everyone knows what to focus on.
  6. Continuously monitor performance – measure real-time performance against your plan, resetting planning assumptions and reallocation resources as needed. Doing this will remedy flaws in your plan and it execution, and avoid confusing the two.
  7. Develop execution ability – no strategy can be better than the people who must implement it. Strategy development must include team selection and training.

By following these rules, you reduce the likelihood of performance shortfalls. If you do happen to falter, you can quickly determine whether the fault lies with the strategy itself, your plan for pursuing it, or the execution process.

The payoff will be that your organization can make the right mid-course corrections – promptly.

To read the full article this content was adopted from, go here.


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Execution: Turning Strategy into Performance

Moving from the Chief Executive Officer to the Chief Execution Officer

Moving from Chief Executive Officer to Chief EXECUTION Officer

What happens when the CEO gets involved in the details of strategy execution?

The E in CEO gets changed.

It’s all too easy for a leader to delegate the actions of strategy execution to levels of management below them.

And it’s a mistake.

By retaining the execution of strategy, the Chief Execution Officer can achieve consensus and commitment across the leadership team; establish and preserve the integrity of the strategy; and engage the team. If done correctly, this approach and these achievements can greatly improve any strategy’s performance.

Randall Russell, VP at Palladium Group and founding editor of Balanced Scorecard Report, has identified the following three practices that can lead to a successful management style of a Chief Execution Officer.

Lead the Leadership Team – creating a leadership team that is unified around the strategy is the most important prerequisite for successful strategy execution. Consensus on and commitment to the strategy provides a litmus test for determining who should stay on the team – and who should go.

Share the Story of the Strategy – too many strategies never get executed because they remain the closely guarded secrets of the leadership team. To be effective, strategy should be shared with all team members. Successful organizations believe that people who perform non-strategic but vital roles should know the general outline of the strategy so that they can become more engaged and find ways to contribute.

Leverage Strategic Performance Feedback – Once the strategy is se and the extended team is engaged, a system of strategic performance feedback must be established. Alignment of performance reward and recognition systems with strategy execution must be done early in the process. Team members who see how their individual roles make a difference will be powerfully motivated.

Application for ChurchWorld Leaders

  1. Establish cross-functional integration, high-level consensus, and commitment to the strategy across your leadership team.
  2. Translate the strategy into a set of measurable objectives that guide behavior across all your teams.
  3. Integrate organization-wide measurements that enable individuals to understand their contribution to the strategy
  4. Align reward and recognitions to the overall strategy while acknowledging unique individual contributions.

Smart leaders translate strategy into execution.

For more information, see the full story here.