GBC Strategic Planning mid-year meetings, Tirupati

ISKCON GBC Strategic Planning Meetings in Tirupati, 21-26 Oct 2012

The 2012 GBC and Strategic Planning midterm meetings for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) were held from October 21–26 in Tirupati, India. Revati Raman Prabhu, ISKCON Tirupati’s temple president, graciously hosted ISKCON leaders from around the world for the fifteen-day event at the beautiful Radha-Govinda temple at the foot of the famous Tirumala Hills. The beauty of the environment was conducive to encouraging the immense progress meeting participants made during the six-day gathering.

The GBC has made serious efforts to initiate and develop strategic planning for ISKCON worldwide – efforts that focus on a number of areas to help our Society move forward progressively into the future. In this article you’ll find an overview of the strategic planning committees and initiatives. To read more in depth about any of the Committees, or more about the midterm meetings, please visit the GBC website at gbc.iskcon.org.

Constitution Committee
Srila Prabhupada gave us a number of principles on which he wanted ISKCON’s organization and operations based. The Constitution Committee is working on clarifying and enshrining these principles in a document for the present and future generations of devotees, helping to ensure both the success of our mission and our faithfulness to our Founder-acarya.

Srila Prabhupada’s Position Committee
ISKCON is unified by the paramount position His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada holds as our Founder-acarya and both our allegiance to him and an understanding of his legacy. The Srila Prabhupada’s Position Committee is working on establishing ways all ISKCON members – from the generation who remembers him personally to generations long into the future – can deepen their understanding of and fidelity to Srila Prabhupada and his mission, vision, and instructions, and the overall guiding principles on which he founded ISKCON.

The Lines of Authority and Economy Committee
This committee has been studying ISKCON’s unique challenges in maintaining clear lines of organizational authority without unnecessarily inhibiting the spiritual dynamics of the guru-disciple relationship in a Society that has multiple types of spiritual leaders.

Organizational Culture Initiative
Any organization, spiritual or mundane, naturally develops a culture of beliefs, behaviors, norms, priorities, standards, and assumptions. ISKCON’s culture embodies many positive elements, but also some negative ones. As part of planning for ISKCON’s future and creating a better understanding between devotees in the present, the Organizational Culture Committee is working to identify and suggest ways to manage ISKCON’s positive and negative elements.

Team-building Committee
As the ultimate managerial authority for ISKCON, the GBC needs the leadership and organizational acumen to serve a worldwide movement – and it needs to work as a team. In that sense, the Team-building Committee is one of the most crucial elements among the GBC’s strategic planning mandates. This committee helps the GBC improve teamwork among its own members. When the GBC members are successful at working as a team, they will be more successful in working with other layers of ISKCON management and the devotees as a whole, making for smoother operations everywhere.

Succession Committee
Even great leaders don’t live forever, so healthy organizations search out people with the capacity and dedication to lead and nurture their leadership skills through training, encouragement, and practical opportunities. The Succession Committee is working with these initiatives for the continuity of the GBC body and other levels of ISKCON leadership. Three pilot programs to address ISKCON’s succession needs have already been launched in Moscow, Germany, and North America.

GBC Organizational Development Committee
Srila Prabhupada designed the GBC’s current leadership model at a time when the movement was smaller and less complex than it is today. The GBC Organizational Development Committee is thoroughly reviewing that model and, while remaining loyal to Srila Prabhupada’s directions, implementing necessary structural developments and enhancements in order to meet the needs of an expanding movement.

Outreach Committee
The Outreach Committee works to ensure that the service of sharing Krishna consciousness remains at the heart of what it means to belong to ISKCON. The GBC is meant to lead devotees into the preaching field on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf and to inspire us to spread Krishna consciousness. To do this they need to encourage the devotees under their care to understand the needs and attitudes of their local cultures, to make sure the preaching is relevant to and appropriate for the local societies, and to help the devotees measure their preaching success by such things as an increase in people joining the movement.

Devotee Care Committee
Equally important to ISKCON’s outreach efforts is the spiritual care and development of our current members. We want more devotees and happier devotees. The Devotee Care Committee’s mandate is vital – to help the GBC lead the Society in developing and maintaining dynamic programs for the care of its members.

Conflicts of Interest
This group of dedicated devotees is studying ways to address conflicts of interest by defining acceptable and unacceptable conflicts and recommending procedures for how to manage or eliminate them.

Temple Development/Systems Administration Committee
The Temple Development/Systems Administration Committee examines Srila Prabhupada’s instructions about temples and applies a “best practices” and mentorship approach to helping all ISKCON temples better fulfill their purpose. They also study best practices in terms of administrative systems for a movement like ISKCON and plan to make that information available for our managers.

Affiliates Initiative
The purpose of the Affiliates Initiative is to understand and manage the relationship other, related organizations have with ISKCON in a way that serves Srila Prabhupada’s core mission of spreading Krishna Consciousness as widely as possible.

Education Committee
Education in ISKCON has a broad mandate since ISKCON is primarily an educational institution. Due to Committee member schedules, the Education Committee met in Belgium just prior to the midyear meeting and sent a presentation of their work to the GBC in Tirupati. Their presentation focused on the advantages of developing in ISKCON communities good sastric study programs, and training programs for leadership, outreach, and management. They also discussed, of course, elementary and secondary education. With the appointment of new Divisional Director for Education Raghupati Dasa from the UK, the Committee is confident their plans will now move forward with greater speed.

Rural Development
It was Srila Prabhupada’s ardent desire to show the world ideal living according to the principles of daiva-varnasrama-dharma, based on the simple formula of land, cows, and Krishna. Building Krishna conscious communities worldwide to demonstrate a “simpler and more natural way of life” is great preaching to a world hungry for sustainable alternatives to modern life. As Srila Prabhupada pointed out, “If these farms become successful, then the whole world will be Krishna conscious.” (Letter, 1977) The Rural Development committee continues to work on their broad mandates, and plans are underway for a dynamic presentation at the 2014 ISKCON Leadership Sanga.

VANDE
No society can be considered truly developed without its own cultural arts. VANDE is working to create a connecting point for ISKCON’s artists of all types, and to help devotees learn how to use the arts in their outreach and to encourage and educate ISKCON’s members.

Communications
With a dynamic representation from all over the world, the Communications Committee discussed innovative ways to work together to increase all levels of communication between ISKCON and the world. Exciting plans are underway to better train and empower devotees at the next Leadership Sanga.

Global Finance
The Global Finance Committee is comprised of a resourceful and creative group of devotees who have all done significant work in economics in their respective countries. This group continues to discuss how to help the GBC become better funded so that it has the financial resources to better serve a worldwide movement.

All the participants of the GBC Strategic Planning meeting commented that this year marked an inspiring turning point for their respective committees – that their work is finally taking an important turn from the theoretical to the practical. Committee members were enlivened to see how their preparatory discussions and plans were developing into something that can be implemented in ISKCON. Plans are underway to develop exciting seminars, workshops, and pilot programs to be showcased at the 2014 ISKCON Leadership Sanga in Sridhama Mayapur.

The first ISKCON Leadership Sanga was held in 2011. Five hundred temple leaders, zonal secretaries, nama-hatta leaders, and project leaders of all kinds came to Mayapur with the GBC to learn more about strategic planning, and especially to attend seminars and workshops on all how to take it home with them to their own temple communities. The Sanga also provided these devotees with the opportunity to meet their colleagues from every corner of the world and to share ideas, solve problems, and generally become inspired. The 2014 Sanga will be even bigger, with an expected attendance of 1000 devotees.

Want to hear more about the GBC’s strategic planning work or their midterm meetings? Please go to gbc.iskcon.org. We will also be posting audio reports from GBC members regarding the meetings and committee work, overall impressions, and experiences in Tirupati in regular installments.

Watch a interesting video on this year’s mid-year meeting.