Could Getting Better Be The Secret to Getting Bigger?


Feeling stuck in your growth efforts? This post reveals why focusing on improvement, as demonstrated by Chick-fil-A's success story, could be your key to unlocking bigger achievements. Find out how getting better can lead to getting bigger.


From The Chick-fil-A Board Room

The executive leadership team of Chick-fil-A was in the board room, engaged in a heated discussion. Their industry was becoming increasingly competitive. They had the advantage, but Boston Chicken (later known as Boston Market) was on their heels. Maintaining their market share was crucial to Chick-fil-A’s future. As the debate roared on, the conversation inevitably turned to growth. “We must get bigger, faster!”

Truett Cathy, the CEO and founder of Chick-fil-A, sat at the head of the table, listening with great intent. As the debate drew to a crescendo, Mr. Cathy uncharacteristically began to pound his fist on the table. Immediately, the room quieted as all eyes turned to their leader. With the room quiet, Mr. Cathy spoke. “I’m sick and tired of all this talk about getting bigger.” Then he said this

“If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger!”

This statement drove a direction for Chick-fil-A, and to Mr. Cathy’s credit, he was right. They did get better, and they certainly got bigger. And Boston Market went out of business. 

I realize you’re not the CEO of the best fast-food restaurant in the history of the world (just my humble opinion), but Mr. Cathy’s statement is equally true for whatever you’re leading. 

A Better Goal Than Bigger 

As leaders, we are continually looking to get bigger. 

There is nothing wrong with getting bigger. In a church, bigger means reaching more people, engaging more relationships, changing more communities, and creating more disciples. In a business, bigger means more customers, product opportunities, and profit. 

All of that is good and necessary. But as Mr. Cathy suggested, the path to bigger goes through better.

The last several years have provided its fair share of difficulties and complications. It has also afforded unparalleled opportunities to reset and relaunch better than we were. New challenges offer everyone a chance to pivot, learn, and rethink.

The problem is that too many of us haven’t really taken the time or energy to assess our current strategies, ministries, and offerings. We all want to get bigger, but we aren’t putting in the hard work to get better. 

Getting better isn’t simple. Better requires change. Inevitably, our focus on better will demand honest answers to complex questions. No model or method can remain immune from evaluation. Some modifications may be minor tweaks. I guarantee some changes will be significant.

If you’re ready to get better, here are a few questions to get you and your team started:

Mirror Questions:
    1. Where are we growing? Where were we lagging?
    2. What is working? What has momentum?
    3. What isn’t working? What are we simply maintaining?
    4. Where are we manufacturing energy? What are we “selling” that I don’t even want to buy?
    5. What is missing in our community or customer bases? 
Window Questions:
    1. What should we keep doing?
    2. What should we stop doing? 
    3. What am I doing that someone else could or should be doing? 
    4. If a new leader stepped in today, what would they do first? 
    5. What will I look back at in five years and wish I’d done differently? 
    6. How will you lead your staff, teams, and board through these changes?

Just for Churches…

If you lead a church, here are some potential areas for improvement. 

  • Staff and church culture
  • Staff and organizational structure
  • Ministry strategies, models, and methods
  • Digital and physical channel alignment
  • Volunteer recruitment, retainment, and engagement
  • Generosity streams and systems
  • Engagement pathways
  • Preaching and teaching
  • Connection and community

One more piece of good news: There has never been a better time to get better because there’s never been a better time than the present. Equally, there’s never been a worse time to wait and keep doing what we’ve always done.