Friday, April 14, 2006

Strategic Planning: Its Lasting Value

Looking for an inspirational quote to use at the end of a strategic planning session? Here’s one of my favorites: Max DePree ends his book Leadership Jazz with a captivating story about leaders whose actions were inspired by vision. This story demonstrates to us the vital link between strategic planning, vision and the stewardship responsibilities of leadership. It's a lesson for all of us: our strategic plans will touch the lives of individuals and communities far into the future.

In the late fourteenth century, the members of New College at Oxford, moved into their quadrangle, the first structure of its kind, intended to provide for the residents all that they needed. On the north side of the quadrangle sit the chapel and the great hall, beautiful buildings and, as you might imagine, the focus of the life of the college.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, almost five hundred years later, the college hired architect Sir Gilbert Scott to restore the roof of the hall. The roof and the great oak beams that supported it had badly rotted. And so representatives from the college with Sir Gilbert visited Great Hall Woods, in Berkshire, where they expected to find trees for replacement beams. Sure enough, the replacements were standing there, waiting to be hewn out of the living oak trees planted a century before for just that purpose.

An anonymous leader's promise had been fulfilled. The voice and touch of a distant leader had been joined.