Client Story: WPBC Partners with SME Strategy on a Mission to Support Their Community
West Point Baptist Church (WPBC) is a church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The church is a friendly one, whose mission it is to reach people in a culturally relevant manner, to support vulnerable community members, encourage generosity, and to develop strong leaders.
In the fall of 2021, we at SME Strategy partnered with WPBC's leaders to help them develop their 3-year strategic plan. Together, we had in-depth conversations around their Mission, Vision, Values, Risks, Priorities, and Goals, and in the end, WPBC developed alignment around a 2024 Vision, three strategic priority areas, clear goals, and an action plan for them to move forward with.
Soon after their fifth and final strategy session, I met with Tony Reimonenq, WPBC's Executive Pastor, and Marcus Cathey, WPBC's founder. Together, we reflected on their experience with the strategic planning process..
WPBC had done strategic planning before, with moderately successful results, Marcus told me. But they knew there was another level to be reached. With a passionate devotion to the church's mission, the group set out to do strategic planning with the help of an SME Strategy facilitator. Tony told me our structured process made it was easier for the team to buy-in. Having the agenda sent ahead of time with expectations and explanations "really helped the flow".
When asked about their experience with our strategic planning process, Tony told me they "appreciated having a facilitator because it helped us move past points of frustration smoothly". Our facilitator also helped them work through communication challenges, and to connect with each other. "It removed barriers", said Tony, which ultimately made the process smoother and more efficient.
"(We) appreciated having a facilitator because it helped us move past points of frustration smoothly".
The planning process also helped WPBC realize they aren't far out of alignment with each other, Marcus told me. The group does have some different ways of looking at things, "but at the core, we learned that we are pretty much in alignment".
Something that came up a few times during the strategy sessions was a new understanding that it is ok to disagree. By recognizing that everyone in the room comes from a different background, they realized each team member had a unique perspective to bring. Our facilitator empowered them to listen to each other's perspectives, become comfortable sharing their own, and get to the heart of some important issues.
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"Probing questions forced me to think and kept me engaged".
Because of the pandemic, SME Strategy started offering our services virtually in 2020. I asked Tony about his and the team's experience with doing strategic planning virtually. Tony told me the virtual sessions were beneficial because our facilitators were highly engaged. "The facilitators asked probing questions that kept my attention", he told me. The probing questions forced him to think, which ultimately kept him engaged.
On top of that, Tony enjoyed the virtual experience because it allowed him to look at his colleagues straight in the face. He mentioned that seeing everyone directly in front of him was more engaging, rather than being in a room and not able to see everyone at once. "I don't think it could've been better in-person", Marcus told me. He agreed that it was much more engaging to see everyone's face, and that "it would've been easier to check out in person".
"We recognized the importance of developing an aligned strategy first, and then shaping the operations and day to day activities".
When debriefing after their strategy sessions, Tony talked about how he was able to deepen his knowledge of the strategic planning process and develop a stronger understanding of the differences between strategy and operations. He recognized the importance of developing an aligned strategy first, and then shaping the operations and day to day activities in alignment with the church's strategic direction.
To learn more about West Point Baptist Church, watch past services or make a donation, head on over to their website: West Point Baptist Church.
To learn more about our strategic planning and facilitation services and how we can work with your organization to develop alignment around One Destination: Strategic Planning Facilitation and Implementation.