Bringing the Plan Into the World of Action

Strategic planning is worth only the paper it’s printed on if the plans are not executed. Therefore the GBC is in the process of establishing systems by which ISKCON’s current structures can be used to better effect, goals can be set and realized, and devotees can feel encouraged to come forward to help.

Ministries and Offices

Key to implementing any of these initiatives is to strengthen and expand the existing ISKCON ministries and other global offices so they can better serve the society. Initially set up by Srila Prabhupada, the ministries and offices have managed to provide services in a number of areas (see sidebar) despite severe underfunding. This initiative is meant to help support the ministries by helping them reach the devotees they are meant to serve and providing earmarked funds for specific projects and programs.

Developing an Executive Strategy for the GBC

Accountability is essential to any strategic planning effort. The members of the GBC have decided they can best be helped to remain accountable by appointing one of their own members to assess their performance. The current system, where individual GBC members answer to the whole GBC body, does not seem a practical way to encourage accountability and ensure that the GBC’s directives and goals are accomplished. The executive strategies are designed to hold members responsible for their services and increase their effectiveness within the society.

The GBC body has decided to appoint an Executive Director to whom individual GBC members will report as they fulfill the fundamental assignments Srila Prabhupada gave them, implement the GBC’s resolutions, and make progress in activities related to strategic planning. Because a tremendous amount of work needs to be done, the executive director will be assisted by divisional directors, each assigned to a specific area where more help is required.

Neither the executive director nor the divisional directors will interface regularly with temple presidents, projects leaders, or regional governing bodies. Dealing with these entities will remain the responsibility of GBC members. The executive director and the divisional directors are designed to work primarily with individual GBC members and to assist them in accomplishing the goals they have set.

Executive Director

The executive director will serve the GBC by ensuring the execution of the GBC’s three primary directives. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Establishing priorities, objectives, and goals
  • Establishing systems designed to get more done
  • Management of their staff and resources
  • Supervising GBC zonal representatives on behalf of the GBC body

Divisional Directors

The executive director will work through divisional directors. Generally, a divisional director will be appointed for every major area of effort (listed below). The executive director will establish overall objectives within each area consistent with the GBC’s three primary directives. Each divisional director will then create, under the executive director’s guidance, goals designed to bring about these objectives.

The following divisional directors will be established:

  • Director of Devotee Care
    • To promote the well-being of ISKCON devotees in all areas of their lives – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual
    • As part of that promotion, to offer education through courses, seminars, media and other means to address the holistic needs and growth of the devotees; these programs are meant to stimulate the mood of all-round service to Vaishnavas and to support individuals in their attempt to attain pure Krishna consciousness
    • To establish a “best practices” methodology on key devotional care developments and practices within the Society
    • To interface with the Devotee Care Committee
  • Director of Outreach Initiatives
    • To organize and supervise projects and campaigns aimed at improving the quality and quantity of how Krishna consciousness is propagated around the world
    • To monitor yatras in the third world and in areas where ISKCON is still developing, and to help those yatras grow
    • To establish a “best practices” methodology on outreach methods used by ISKCON and to make sure they are the most effective they can be
    • To interface with the Outreach Committee
  • Director of Administration and Systems Development
    • To create and maintain appropriate systems, and to clarify functions, capabilities, roles and structures for the smooth and productive operation of ISKCON
    • To ensure that these systems are implemented and monitored so they serve their intended purposes and do not create unintended consequences
    • To provide an ongoing analysis of these systems and procedures and to update or modify them when necessary
    • To supervise the work of the GBC secretariat’s and executive director’s staff
    • To interface with the Organizational Development Committee
    • To provide all areas of the executive strategies with a “systems thinking” approach – an awareness that everything in ISKCON is interdependent and must be examined as a whole rather than only looking at parts
  • Director of Succession
    • To ensure the smooth and proper succession of ISKCON leadership by identifying potential leaders, training them, helping them to accept the full implications of servant-leadership, supervising their development, and facilitating their being sent out into the field
    • To interface with the Succession Committee
  • Director of Strategic Planning
    • To oversee the design and implementation of realistic plans for how to achieve the GBC’s three primary directives
    • To ensure that the GBC’s work focuses on long-term achievements (what could the GBC be doing that would leave Vaishnavas two hundred years from now feeling grateful?)
    • To interface with the Strategic Planning Team
  • Director of Legal, Accounting, and Regulatory Compliance
    • To ensure the Society’s compliance with internal and external legal, accounting, and regulatory requirements
    • To protect ISKCON’s properties and assets, both hard and soft
    • To oversee the national and local incorporation of ISKCON’s affiliates
  • Director of Community Relations
    • To liaise between the GBC and the ISKCON community
    • To identify the needs of ISKCON members that are unique to where they are serving and to bring those needs to the GBC’s attention
    • To assure that the GBC and its policies are presented in a consistent and appropriate way to the members of ISKCON
  • Director of Ministry Supervision
    • To supervise and support the GBC Ministries by making sure devotees worldwide and in any language are aware of the resources available to them
    • To assist with travel coordination
    • To examine how the ministries use their grants

GBC Committees

The Executive Director receives essential authority and direction from the GBC, but he must also be given the facility to present his vision for his service to the GBC. An ongoing and respectful exchange between the GBC and the executive director is crucial for ensuring that the strategic plan is prioritized and carried out even as the executive director remains a servant to the will of the GBC body.

Still, taking direction from – by present standards – a group of approximately thirty-five people meeting officially only once or twice a year renders the executive process cumbersome, impractical and hardly productive.

To address this problem, some GBC committees have been delegated executive power on behalf of the body as GBC executive committees to interact with and provide guidance to the executive director. These executive committees will be standing committees.

These committees are:

  • Devotee Care
  • Outreach
  • Organizational Development
  • Succession
  • Strategic Planning
  • Educational Development
  • Global Development (Fund Development)

Conclusion

During the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the GBC in Mayapur in 1975, Srila Prabhupada approved their first resolution:

The GBC (Governing Body Commission) has been established by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to represent him in carrying out the responsibility of managing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, of which he is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority.

The GBC accepts as its life and soul his divine instructions, and recognizes that it is completely dependent on his mercy in all respects.

We aspire to better serve the will of Srila Prabhupada and to share in his extraordinary mercy, which will empower us to serve their Lordships Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.