Complementing a Strategic Plan with Lean Experimentation

Here’s a strategy for when changes just seem to be taking too long in your ministry–lean experimentation.

Lean experimentation enables organizations to launch, test, and implement new projects, programs, or initiatives more efficiently and effectively. In the business world, organizations build MVPs (Minimum Viable Prototypes) and launch them iteratively–improving based on feedback each time (The Promise of Lean Experimentation | Stanford Social Innovation Review).

Lean experimentation in ministry might mean integrating a completely different approach to children’s faith formation in just one grade (or even one class) rather than across the entire parish. It could mean launching an intentional hospitality and greeting ministry at just one Mass.

Next time you’re on the verge of launching a long planning process for a new program or ministry, consider, could we “set up a small experiment to test a critical hypothesis—the ‘riskiest hypothesis'” to learn and grow from? Instead of debating the best pastoral strategy, start testing them on a small-scale using lean experimentation. While lean experimentation shouldn’t completely replace long-term strategic planning–the two can compliment each other. Think of lean experimentation as a way to take risks without “betting the farm.” Or, think of it as a way to organically design programs and initiatives from the bottom up–with real-world feedback and experiences shaping every change.

Have you tried this in your parish or ministry? What was the experience like?


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