Doors opened and shut
CEO NOTES | At WORLD, we strategize, but God alone establishes our steps
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Quite a few people participate, one way or another, in charting the direction of WORLD. We have our board of directors, our editorial council members, and our management team members, to name several. To help us with those decisions, we go through a major strategic planning effort every three years or so, and we update the plan every year based on conditions “on the ground.”
In spite of all that, when I look back at my time at WORLD and its much-longer history, many of our most important moments—as far as we were concerned—have been unplanned, and some even unwanted.
One early example: The rise of Amazon forced us to close our God’s World Book Club, which had for years been the most financially successful and, we thought, the most fruitful of our divisions. Our long-term strategy was built around the book club, and almost overnight that strategy was undone.
The recession of 2008 undid our plans of achieving an advertising-supported financial model. Looking back, the plans were ill-conceived to start with, but God got our attention by slamming shut that door.
Sometimes we find unexpectedly open doors. WORLD currently supplies hundreds of radio stations with top-of-the-hour newscasts, but this opportunity was not even on our radar a year ago. Even so, God had been preparing us for that new direction, so we were able to pursue it when the opportunity arose.
Maybe the way to say it is, man strategizes, but the Lord establishes our steps. That doesn’t stop us from planning, but it does remind us to seek God as we do.
By the way, our track record is spotty. Just during the relatively few years that I’ve been one of the people making decisions here, we’ve missed opportunities we should have taken and we’ve pursued paths that might’ve best been ignored. One example: We thought the iPad would change everything related to publishing, so we dove early into the development deep end and crafted a beautiful digital product that mimicked and improved upon the printed page. For a brief time, we had thousands of iPad subscribers, but it ended up being merely a flash on the screen.
Still, our posture is to pursue. Most of the time, we prefer trying and failing to not trying at all. But we pray for God’s wisdom—and when our weakness prevails, God’s door-slamming as needed—while we plan our way.