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Mind enemas and strategic planning

The good apostle Paul of New Testament fame wrote something along the lines of ‘empty yourselves of all the things that make for bad stuff’. Well maybe not exactly that, but people have been misquoting him for centuries.

He also said women should remain silent in ‘church’. And astonishingly some people still take this advice seriously!

But back to the ‘empty yourself’ advice.  What does that have to do with strategic planning?

What would it mean for a strategic planning process if it began with something akin to a ‘mind enema’? An emptying of all the noise and clutter, the chatter and unconscious yet chosen meanings, the assumptions and presuppositions, from the deepest parts of the mind?

In a crude sense, a collective ‘emptying’ as a precursor to strategic planning might just expel or expose all the corporate ‘crap’ that so often is the ‘elephant in the room’. This could provide space for an open canvas where fresh thinking could be used to paint innovative futures.

This ‘emptying’ process should not be passive or esoteric navel gazing. It should be a hard-edged honest assessment and reflection at a personal and corporate level about power, worldviews, fears, self-esteem, hubris and the political, theological and ideological commitments that can blinker and blind new insights and innovative future options.

This would be a difficult process for almost any organisation, but you would think that faith-based NGOs might be more amenable to this process. Sadly this is not my experience. And this makes the concept of a ‘mind enema’ at the commencement of a strategic planning process even more appropriate for faith-based NGOs where the ‘voice of God’ can so easily be confused with one’s own voice and self-interest, whether as directors or managers.

There are many ways in which to undertake such a process at the commencement of strategic planning. We believe it is an essential element of strategic planning and provides an opportunity for strategic reflection to proceed strategic planning. It could be useful for individuals as well as organisations.

Empty yourself – unencumber your mind – and you may be surprised that as all sorts of tightly held notions pass away, a new vibrant and fresh way of moving into the future may have the freedom to emerge.

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