Latitude of Disclosure

Knowing how to develop an organizational communication strategy is a key ingredient for leading people through any season of transition. Take a look at the picturatitudee below.


Proximity to You – These concentric circles represent the various groups you will interact with in your life and ministry.

Level of Disclosure – The colored areas illustrate the appropriate levels of disclosure for the circles you are communicating with. You can say anything you want at any time. The question, however, is what should you say in each context.

The Black Dot is you. There are no boundaries to the things you can say to yourself. I do think it is important to remind you of Paul’s words – “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV) This season of your ministry is too important to lose the spiritual battle raging in your mind.

The Red Circles represent the people you can let your guard down with. These are family and close, personal friends. These are the people you can vent to, cry in front of and dream with. Even though there is much freedom in this circle be careful not to go beyond the bounds of what is appropriate.

A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over – Proverbs 29:11, MSG

The Orange Circles refer to the group(s) identified in your by-laws as being tasked with providing oversight for the ministry. The people involved in this circle are the ones that help you navigate the Develop and Design phases.

A good word to describe the tone of meetings in this circle is DEVELOPMENTAL. It can take a while for those in this circle to gain clarity on the best way to move forward in the planning process.

Yellow Circle people are staff, committee members, core volunteers, strategic partners, high capacity and long-term donors. Yellow Circle people are core leaders.

From a practical standpoint this circle is too big to be involved with developing the succession planning strategy. That is the responsibility of the Orange Circle. Yellow Circle people will help fill in any blind spots your team may have overlooked. Because of this the tone for meetings with Yellow Circle people is IMPLEMENTATION.

The Green Circles represent everyone not mentioned above. The ultimate goal of organizational communication is effective movement. For the transition plan to work everyone needs to understand his or her role. Proverbs 29:18 says…

“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” – ESV

Green Circle people, generally speaking, help when and where they are needed. As the leader, your opportunity is to communicate a plan that provides clear guidance. Keep communication in these contexts fairly tight in scope with your primary tone being one of PARTICIPATION. Providing this group more information than needed will bring confusion.

There are things that are ok to say in an Orange Circle context that are inappropriate at best, irresponsible at worst, if said elsewhere. You will also want to consider the timing of your comments as it relates to the overall development and implementation of your succession planning strategy. The image below will help you visualize this concept.


In closing, let me offer five questions to consider as you review the images above.

Question 1 – Who are the people in each circle?Question 2 – What does each circle need to know?

Question 3 – What does each circle need to do?

Question 4 – What is the best way to communicate with each circle?

Question 5 – When is the best time to communicate with each circle?


Click to read “Preparing to Gather” or “Why? How? What?”