Goal vs. Event Based Planning

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Planning and goal-setting is something that we all do. Some of us do this a little better than others.  Effective planning and goal setting are key when it comes to leading an organization or a ministry, as well as for individuals in organizing their life.  Planning helps us to do things with excellence, to be relaxed and prepared, and ultimately enables us to accomplish our mission and vision.

However sometimes without realizing it, we can inadvertently slip into a less effective approach that we might call “event-based” planning. 

In event-based planning, a leader might undertake a planning session and think, “OK, we need a social activity this month. What should we do? Last year we did a movie night and lots of people came, let’s do it again.  And last month, we did an evening training program, so we should do some training event again this month.”

Basically, this pattern of planning defaults to a habit of just doing what we’ve done before, a kind of copy-and-paste the calendar approach. Without realizing it, one can slip into this approach and soon simply having events becomes the goal. Success becomes defined by having activity rather achieving outcomes.

While event-based planning is not bad, it is limited. Over time, things can become routine and boring. Event-based planning can cloud over the ultimate purpose of the mission. And it can become stressful as we get caught up in a focus on just keeping busy.

A better way to approach planning is through “goal-based” planning.

Goal based planning looks at the purposes and aims of the organization or the event or the individual. A leader with this mindset would consider, “Social activities are meant to build relationships with people. Last year, we did movie night, but we couldn’t really talk and get to know people, so let’s do something simpler: a pot-luck with some ice-breakers to get people talking.” Or if one of their goals is related to training, one might ask, “What are the key needs of our people right now and what would be the best way to equip them in this?”

Goal-based planning is advantageous in that if offers flexibility while retaining a focus on the ultimate purpose. Goal based-planning also invites creativity and new approaches. Goal based planning allows one to cater to the specifics of the situation or current environment.

Goal-based planning first considers what the goals for achieving the vision are. Activities and events are then an expression of those goals. Goal-based planning begins with the end in mind – what is it that we want to accomplish – and resists the urge to have events for the sake of events or because we’ve always done them.

So as you consider your approach, what is the overall purpose of your planning?   Are there any areas where you might have slipped into event-based planning and how might you reorient your planning to better serve your goals?

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