6 Questions to Determine if Your Strategy is Old or Obsolete

5 Minute Read…

How do you know if the changes surrounding your organization dictate a strategy change in your organization?

It’s an important question to consider.

Think about it: When you devised your current strategies, you did so as a response to what was surrounding your organization. “Was,” as in past tense. You perfectly designed a model, plan, and strategy for a moment in time.

Unfortunately, time has a way of moving forward, changing, and evolving everything in its path.

Perhaps your old strategy remains perfect for your current realities. Or, maybe something around you has changed to the extent that your current approach is no longer the best approach.

Is your strategy old, or obsolete? 

For example, if you lead a church like I previously did, you undoubtedly were executing a ministry model designed perfectly for a moment in time. Consider February 2020. I bet your February 2020 strategy was better suited for that month than one month later. Immediately, the world around your ministry changed (thanks pandemic), and suddenly your plans no longer fit the current environment.

You see, models are built for moments, and moments never remain unchanged.

There are times these changes are fast to near immediate. Those were the first moments of the pandemic. But most changes are significantly more subtle, taking time to evolve. Those are the most dangerous changes. The slow evolutions are the most difficult to sense, and therefore, adjust.

So back to my original question:

How do you know if the changes surrounding your organization dictate a strategy change in your organization?

Without a coaching conversation, I can’t answer that question for you with confidence. I can, however, give you the questions I would ask if we were sitting down together.

QUESTION 1: How old is your current strategy?

Seriously, this is an important question to answer first. I know people currently executing business playbooks and ministry models created in the 1990s. FYI, the world has significantly changed since the ’90s—for instance, the internet.

When did you develop and execute your strategy? Have you made any significant alterations to your approach since inception (not wording changes, but actual strategy changes)?

QUESTION 2: What is different in the world, your community, and the market today than when you initially implemented your strategy?

This question should take some time. Bring a few others into the conversation and consider what has happened in your surrounding world since your model began.

A good question to help process this question is: “What strategy would we created today if we restarted everything?” This question forces you to consider the current world and community, and that’s helpful when attempting to evaluate how much has changed since your original strategy was activated.

QUESTION 3: What is currently working? What is not working? What is missing? And what’s confusing?

We call these the “four critical questions.” An old model doesn’t automatically make it irrelevant. Some industries and communities change slower than others. Your old strategy may still be relevant today. It’s more likely that your old model is, at a minimum, partially outdated, though. The above questions will help you and your team decide if your approach is old or obsolete.

QUESTION 4: Have you seen or experienced any new strategies within your industry?

First, if your answer is “I haven’t looked around at other models,” put down the questions and start there.

Moving on. If you have seen someone else doing something different, pay attention to their success. If their different model is working, odds are it was in response to the new world they are serving. Meaning your world may have changed, too.

QUESTION 5: How much personal pain does rethinking your current model cause?

This question requires honesty. Too often, leaders refuse to acknowledge the realities of a changing landscape because they realize it demands changing a strategy they devised. Leaders quickly become married to their model and their mission, thinking they are equivalent. Yet, they are distinctly not.

FYI: This is much more painful if you are the creator of the now obsolete model.

QUESTION 6: Who else needs a seat at a decision table?

As a leader, you probably have an executive team around you. These individuals earned their spot for a reason. Most likely, they bring a wealth of experience. Equally, all that experience might mean they struggle to recognize how much the world has changed during their organizational tenure.

I believe you need an executive team of tenured leaders who have been around the block a time or two. Their experience is invaluable. I also think you need a group of younger leaders with fresh eyes and different perspectives. Create a separate table and listen — really listen — to these younger leaders. What they are seeing is relevant and potentially more connected to the current culture.


It’s so much easier to move forward than to rethink our forward movement. But, if we care about our mission and organization, we must continually evaluate our current plans against the changing world surrounding us.

Perhaps you could answer this question for me in the comments: What is ONE plan you’ve changed in the year?

How can I help?

Helping ministry and marketplace leaders make things better and make better things is why I created Transformation Solutions. One element of my work is strategy evaluation and development.

Go right now to mytransformationsolutions.com and sign up for a free, 15-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

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