Strategy in Religious Institutions

 Strategy in Religious Institutions Raymond Ganetsang  |   4 MINS READ May 5, 2021

For every organization today, a strategy affords a plan paving the way for an organization to excel during difficult times. A strategy is believed to be the most crucial planned decision whose influences are pivotal to the operations of an organization. As alluded by Gupta (2011), strategy signifies that an enterprise can achieve its goals in a simple way. It exhibits how an organization harmonizes its capabilities and resources as per the demands of the ever-changing environment in which it operates. The company through its strategy aspires to use all the options and circumvent all the risks in its environment, exhaust all advantages and minimize weaknesses with respect to competitors.

Strategy implementation is a part of the strategic planning process which dictates the future direction of an organization. As described by Kotler in 2000, it helps organizations to acclimatize to the dynamic environment by dealing with key issues pertaining to the decisions within an organization. Strategy implementation is the phase that provides answers to some of the critical questions such as who will carry out the strategic plan, what must be done, and how it is going to be done (Wheelen & Hunger, 2007). Strategy implementation involves decisions on how the resources of an organization will be aligned and mobilized towards the set objectives. This phase involves various activities that are necessary to put a strategy in motion and it is linked to management functions such as leading, motivating, directing and communicating (Steiner, 2004; Higgins, 2005).  

The conception of strategy implementation might appear quite simple and straightforward. On the contrary, converting strategy into action is a far more complex, difficult and challenging undertaking, therefore not as straightforward as some would assume (Aaltonen & Ikavalko, 2001). Since the implementation of strategies is still a holdup, many organizations are not able to adequately address their objectives. Strategies accepted should be assessed by experts to prevent a high level of strategy failure at the implementation phase (Heracleous, 2013).

Global empirical literature reveals that roughly between 50% - 80% of organizational strategy implementation initiatives are constantly failing (Ashkenas & Francis, 2000; Beer & Nohria, 2000; Carlopio, 1998, 2003; Jonk & Ungerath, 2006; Raps, 2004; Atkinson, 2006). Most of the well-developed institutions have problems with the implementation of their strategies as revealed by Bryson (2015). Based on the empirical findings unlike strategy formulation, strategy implementation cannot be successful if only the top management is involved as it requires support from both the internal and external stakeholders as well. In the strategy formulation phase, organizations prefer to use top-down approaches whereas in the implementation phase, successful execution demands for simultaneous top-down, bottom-up, and across approaches.  According to Cater and Pucko (2010), a strategic plan is a blueprint of how an organization pursues its goals.

Currently, religious institutions are seen to be dynamic and disjointed as the stakeholders are continuously being confronted with new challenges in the ever-changing environment as they need to adjust. Religious institutions are seen to be distinctive altogether as in essence, they are membership organizations with important public service and spiritual missions.  Although their purpose is not making profits, their strategic planning approaches are essentially similar to profit-making organizations.  Most religious leaders today view strategic planning in a cynical way because of lack of knowledge in the strategic management area (Myer, 2013). 

Based on Myer’s evaluation (2013), most religious leaders have a feeling that strategic planning lacks biblical backing, hence they do not need it as churches are not businesses and they must not be managed as such. According to them, faith-based organizations require faith-based management through God’s perfect guidance and direction, waiting patiently for God to make things happen rather than “forcing things to happen” (George, 2012). Churches are criticized for striving for spiritual goals and not the quantifiable goals stressed in business. Despite the recognition of the applicability of planning in churches, there are still doubts over its worth in religious organizations (George, 2012). According to George (2012), to some extent,  teachings from the Bible have contributed significantly to the introduction of strategic planning, to influencing and organizing the church to attain its goals.

Religious organizations are therefore required to formulate strategies that will assist them to attain self-sufficiency as well as address dependency practices. Such strategies should include management and mobilization of resources, and nurturing of the leaders to be proficient. Resource development to attain skills and knowledge, creating sustainable investment projects and income-generating activities are crucial towards achieving self-reliance in religious organizations.

 

Ray

Raymond Ganetsang
Pharmacy Manager
BCL Mine, Botswana

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