Remember those days as a child when playing in a sandbox was glorious? The self-contained structure filled with sand allowed us to use our imaginations to create our own little worlds, fight great battles, and build towering castles all in one spot. A sandbox is a brilliantly simple play option for kids while helping parents provide fun boundaries for their kids.
This concept of a sandbox helps SpringHill answer the question “Where and who will we serve and through what products/ministries?” It’s the second of the Game Plan Questions every organization needs to answer if it wants to make an enduring difference in the world. An organizational Sandbox defines the self-imposed boundaries our organization will “play in” over a given period of time.
Typical Sandbox boundaries include defining the target market, including geographic reach, the primary customers, and the products and services an organization will provide. A good Sandbox also acknowledges these “boundaries” are not forever so it includes a time horizon (typically no less than 3 years).
Now the reason an organization benefits from such self-imposed boundaries is simple. Effective organizations typically experience more opportunities than it can successfully take on. The Sandbox becomes a useful tool to screen those opportunities and provide needed organizational discipline so it can stay focused on its best opportunities for success (and build the best castle in the world).
The tension we’ve experienced at SpringHill, and one I’m sure is common among mission driven organizations, is our desire to be open to God’s leading and discerning the opportunities He may be providing. We don’t want to be too calculated and not allow room for something we didn’t see. But we’ve also discovered the Sandbox’s isn’t an automatic “no”, it just provides the reason to stop, evaluate and pray whether an opportunity is really right for our organization.
So defining your Sandbox will not only help your organization make an enduring difference in the world, it will likely make your organization a fun place to play.
This is part 3 of a series of posts about the questions every organization needs to answer to achieve their vision.