for ISKCON News on Oct. 18, 2013
The October 18th meeting day began with a presentation on the success the GBC (ISKCON's Governing Body Commission) has had in their strategic planning work. These include ground-breaking events like the ISKCON Leadership Sanga (ILS), which took place in 2012 and brought over 500 leaders to Mayapur from around the world. Inspiring and thought-provoking presentations were given on a variety of topics, including book distribution, communications, education, and creating effective temple management systems.
Then in 2013, the GBC held a Sanga for Sannyasis, Gurus, and GBCs (SGGS), providing a much-needed opportunity for ISKCON’s leaders to promote deeper cooperation and to dialogue about the future of Srila Prabhupada’s movement.
Other strategic planning accomplishments highlighted were:
- Initiatives to reach the worldwide devotee community through the Internet (i.e., websites and social media).
- Surveying the GBC on relevant issues, such as what it means to be a member of ISKCON. This in turn has promoted thought-provoking discussions on how to implement a broad membership program.
- The writing of several position papers, including “The Position of Srila Prabhupada,” which will play a role in helping future generations of devotees understand who Srila Prabhupada is and his place as our founder-acarya of ISKCON. GBC members also released a paper on “Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority,” and a third paper on the GBC as ISKCON’s ultimate managing authority.
- The need to reconfigure zones has been identified due to the fact that many GBC secretaries are assigned to areas that span two or three continents. This structure results in extremely hectic travel schedules, high travel costs, and is hard on the health GBC members. But most importantly, the current zonal structure doesn’t allow GBC members to spend quality time devoted to individual projects in their zone. Reconfiguring the zones addresses these issues.
- The GBC body is thinking and acting more globally with a greater commitment to openness and transparency. One example of this is the GBC’s engagement of over one hundred talented devotees (known as the strategic planning network) who work in committees to support the GBC’s strategic planning initiatives.
- ISKCON is becoming more consistently proactive, and, with its strategic planning work, moving away from crisis management. Although still in their infancy, areas like succession, temple development, and devotee care are drafting manuals to help ISKCON managers adopt these strategically beneficial initiatives.
- A greater awareness and implementation of systems thinking. One outcome of this is the Initiated Devotee Database, which will serve as a resource for membership, help promote connectivity, and help managers better serve their congregations.
After the plenary session, the devotees broke into committees to continue preparation for their ILS 2014 seminars and to do their ongoing committee work.