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Learning from Strategic Development Funding

Catherine Dorman in the Strategy & Development Unit has been reflecting on what dioceses are learning as they implement projects supported through Strategic Development Funding. These learning points can be grouped under eight headings:

  1. Strong diocesan strategies
  2. Effective senior leadership teams
  3. Programme and project management capacity and skills
  4. Engaging parishes in delivery
  5. Realistic timetabling
  6. Buildings and missional structures
  7. Communication and consultation
  8. Challenges relating to the inherited church

In this edition of Shared Insight we look at the first 4 points in more detail.

Strong Diocesan Strategies

  • Dioceses which have taken a strong strategic approach have proved able to make good progress with implementing their initial SDF project (and also in making successful second applications).
  • These dioceses are using data to inform strategy, to track progress and to hold people to account.
  • They are also making progress on aligning the various elements of their ‘business as usual’ to support incremental, continuous change.

Effective senior leadership teams

  • Senior diocesan teams have learned the importance of making sure the strategy is well-embedded throughout the diocese, e.g. through being engaging well with parishes and being ‘imaginatively persistent’ in communications messages.
  • Demonstrating the whole team’s commitment to the SDF project, by being advocates for it throughout the diocese, helps to keep the project on track if there is some resistance against it, or if a key member of the team moves to a different role.

Programme and project management capacity and skills

  • Consultancy support can be highly valuable in moving the project from application to implementation.
  • Projects are more likely to go well if they get off to a strong start: detailed implementation planning should begin as early as possible.
  • Putting a skilled programme or project manager in charge has a significant positive impact on progress. Many dioceses are now including programme and project manager posts in their applications for Strategic Development Funding or Strategic Capacity Funding.

Engaging parishes in delivery

  • Although more intangible, it is important to build on the senior leadership team’s excitement for a project to generate enthusiasm and involvement at a parish level. This could be through:
  • Allowing local churches to see the direct benefits that embracing the diocesan strategy brings to them;
  • Encouraging and enabling parishes and deaneries to directly influence the project, whilst still managing it at a diocesan level;
  • Having an inclusive feel to the project, allowing it to draw in churches from a range of different areas/traditions;
  • Effective communication with parishes on project progress from start to finish.

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