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There are four things that the Franciscan tradition
brings to the development of a strategic plan:
Franciscans believe in the goodness of God
and the beauty of creation.
We enter the
strategic planning process with an ultimate trust
and belief in the potential for positive change and
good outcomes. We have an energy and passion
to unleash grace, creativity and ingenuity in one
another to build up the world and provide for the
needs of all men and women. Franciscans don't
do well with those who doom every project to
failure. We are optimistic.
Franciscans believe in the fraternity of all
men and women and, indeed, of all creation.
Therefore, we highlight collaboration and cooper-
ation. We are inclusive. We believe in big, wide-
open tents where every voice is heard and
listened to. Our strategic planning can't be top-
down and a ruse for individual power-grabbing
and self-interested politics. We believe in the
common good and in everyone coming to the
table of discernment and decision-making.
Franciscans believe what the Scriptures say
-- "all were created through Him; all were
created for Him; He is before all else that is."
Theologically speaking, Franciscans are pro-
foundly Christo-centric and we meditate on Jesus
as the Logos, or Word of God. We believe that
Jesus is the pattern and design for the truth,
beauty and goodness we see in the world. We
love a beautiful design. This conviction translates
into a positive, can-do spirit. We can make things
better. We can make things well. We are con-
vinced that plans don't have to end up on the ash
heap of history. Belief in Jesus as the Art of God
gives us a temperament for attempting great
Franciscans don't believe that any situation is
At the end of his life, St. Francis said to
the brothers -- "Let's start over, for up until now,
we have done little." St. Francis loved change. He
was the master of surprise and innovation. Fran-
ciscans, therefore, feel at home with a "culture of
planning" that inculcates an attitude of creativity,
ingenuity and progress throughout an institution.
WINTER 2015-16
Franciscan Minute
Creating a strategic plan in the
charism of the Franciscan tradition
ot long ago, Ronald Heifetz
of the Center for Public
Leadership at Harvard wrote
that it would be profoundly reassur-
ing to view the challenges that we
face in business and education
today as just another rough patch
to get through before we come
back to "normal" again.
Unfortunately, he suggests that
"today's mix of urgency, high
stakes and uncertainty will con-
tinue as the norm," as we face
global competition, political insta-
bility, demographic changes, en-
ergy constraints and a whole host
of serious and unfamiliar chal-
lenges. Leaders face a permanent
crisis of technical and transforma-
tional challenges.
As a strategic planner and orga-
nizational development consultant,
I have helped hundreds of profit
and not-for-profit institutions come
to grips with their experience of ur-
gency, high stakes and uncertainty.
Three things are critical for insti-
tutions facing an uncertain future:
(a) a profound commitment to
one's founding mission; (b) a realis-
tic vision of where the group wants
to get to and (c) a passion to risk
for the greater common good.
These are the platform skills I
look for in a group that says it
wants to plan.
The early Franciscans didn't
squirrel themselves away in
They entered cities and in-
volved themselves in the traffic
and commerce of ordinary life.
They worked hard building the
colleges, universities, hospitals,
shelters, buildings and bridges
that cities needed. They were
not afraid to address them-
selves to what the marketplace
And yet, their approach to-
ward the future was never re-
ductive. Their planning was
holistic, always integrating
body, mind and spirit with
strong relational bonds that
were familial, civic and even
Strategic planning in the Fran-
ciscan tradition is a discipline by
which a community comes to-
gether to recommit to its
founding mission and puts its
passion to bear on the discern-
ment and operationalization of
an enlivened vision, because it
believes in truth, beauty and
goodness and it trusts in the
power of a common good.
(Fr. David Couturier, O.F.M.
Cap., is co-chairing the Univer-
sity Planning Commission,
which is engaging the St.
Bonaventure community in uni-
versity-wide strategic planning.
Fr. David, who joined the univer-
sity in August 2014, is executive
director of the Franciscan Insti-
tute & Franciscan Institute Publi-
cations and dean of the School
of Franciscan Studies.)
By Fr. David B. Couturier, O.F.M. Cap.
Fr. David Couturier, co-chair
Dr. Michael Hoffman, co-chair
Dr. David Danahar
Dr. René Hauser
Dr. David Hilmey
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann
Ann Lehman
Dr. Heather McDivitt
Dr. Todd Palmer
Bernie Valento