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Establishing a Strategic Filter

Here’s a way to sift requests for new programme initiatives, especially if there are too many of them for the resources available.

Chess Game

You’ve developed a strategy (or strategic plan) and have approved a series of programmes and activities to deliver it. Yet in many organisations, there continues to be a stream of new ideas, often from the leaders of the organisation who have that ability to hatch ten new schemes before breakfast! Whilst you don’t want to quash an entrepreneurial spirit or blue sky thinking, it needs to be balanced with actually delivering the vision, mission and strategy of the organisation.


There will be many worthy proposals but every organisation needs to prioritise. You need a simple mechanism, a strategic filter, to evaluate these new ideas, include the ones that really stand out and filter out the ones that will overstretch the organisation or divert it from its strategic path. Your filter can also be used to prioritise programmes and activities at the planning stage of a strategy or when reduced resources mean that you need some streamlining.


Ideally include your strategic filter in the strategy document as an appendix. This means it is already in place when a wave of new initiatives breaks. It is more likely to be objective than if it’s established once the new schemes are being considered.


Here are some questions which might be relevant to include in your strategic filter. There are probably others to include which are pertinent to your organisation. Use your filter as a checklist. You can score out of ten (especially useful if you are comparing more than one scheme) or just give yes/no/specific answers.

  • Does this serve our organisation's vision and mission?

  • Does this reflect our organisation's values?

  • Which of our high level goals does this help us deliver?

  • How will we resource and fund this initiative?

  • Is there an existing programme we could or should stop in order to undertake this initiative?

  • Would this make us a more effective organisation?

  • Could another organisation do this more effectively than us?

  • Do we have beneficiaries enthusiastically supporting this activity?

  • Does this serve the Kingdom of God?

  • Does this serve the church/other Christian organisations/Christian individuals in our nation?

  • Is now the best time to start this?

  • What would be the exit strategy for this initiative?


Profiling the strategic filter within the organisation should mean some initiatives are halted before they become formal proposals.


If the filter responses don’t support the proposed scheme but there is still strong support for it amongst leadership team and trustees you may need to revisit your vision, mission or other aspects of your strategy to see what may be missing that should be included.


One way to handle such proposals (possibly as a second stage) is to develop a brief project document (see Signposts below). That means that every proposal is considered in a consistent and fair way.




Author and copyright Helen Calder 2019

This resource has been peer reviewed in New Zealand

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