7 Questions to Determine If Your Ministry Model Needs to Change

Have you ever experienced a “solution looking for a problem?” I love that phrase. It most commonly looks like a product developed by a company for a customer that doesn’t exist. Not in the Steve Jobs or Apple way. In the legitimate “we spent time and resources creating something that nobody will ever want or […]

6 Questions to Determine if Your Strategy is Old or Obsolete

KEY QUESTION for this NEW POST: How do you know if the changes surrounding your organization dictate a strategy change in your organization?

At times, it’s easy to spot. A global pandemic is an easy example. Every strategy became immediately obsolete in March 2020.

But most community evolutions are subtle, making it much more difficult to decipher between an old model and an obsolete strategy.

As an organizational leadership coach, I could sit down with you to help determine if your model is in need of a makeover. But, since we aren’t together right now, in this NEW POST I’m giving you 6 key questions I would ask you and your team.

Of course, if you want to sit down, just reach out…

6 Secrets to End Well so You Can Start Strong

My last Sunday at Woodstock City Church is August 1.

It’s a new beginning, but like all new beginnings, it comes with an ending.

The band Semisonic had it right: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”

In this NEW ARTICLE, I discuss the reality of endings in light of new beginnings.

This is important for any and every version of change. Change introduces something new, which means it may end something old. When we don’t end well, we struggle to start strong.

Rather than resist change or new beginnings, we need to learn better strategies for endings.

With that in mind, here are 6 Strategies to End Well so You Can Start Strong.

Also, being as I’m living through this right now, I added some personal reflection on how I am trying to end well so I can start strong on August 2.

The Importance of Transition Leadership During Change Management

Change and transition are not the same.

Change is the new set of circumstances or the new situation we desire. Change represents the end result of a successful organizational effort. Examples include creating a new department, changing the organizational structure, moving to a new location, or launching a new product or offering. All of these are significant changes.

Transition, on the other hand, is the set of people-oriented experiences that precede change. If change is about new circumstances, transition is the emotional, psychological, and spiritual adjustments people go through as change is implemented. Change needs to be managed, where transitions need to be led. 

Understanding the difference makes all the difference.

Planning for Organizational Change: Most leaders are relatively adept at planning for change. At the highest level, a change management plan starts with the desired outcome. It then works backward, step by step, to create the necessary preconditions for that outcome. These preconditions are primarily situational and circumstantial. 

Planning for Emotional Transition: Most leaders stop at the change management plan. We know where we currently are (Sunday School), we know where we want to be (small groups), and we have a plan to get there (change management plan). But most likely, without a transition plan, this change would be only partially successful with a wake of bodies behind us. Unlike change management, transition leadership starts with where people are and works forward, step by step, through the process of leaving the past behind, getting through the confusion of change, and emerging with new attitudes, behaviors, and identities. If change is the new circumstance (small groups), transition is the psychological process to get people there. This is incredibly important to understand, as every change ultimately involves and is initiated, experienced, and adopted by people.

Conclusion: Most of us are good at identifying what needs to change. And we’re relatively proficient at developing change management plans. But what separates those who desire change versus those who can lead to change is the ability to see and integrate transition plans. Get this right, and you’ll not only achieve the desired change, but you’ll bring the support of most people along with you.

How can I help?

Helping ministry and marketplace leaders through change, transition, and transformation is why I created Transformation Solutions. Go right now to mytransformationsolutions.com and sign up for a free, 30-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

The Consequences of Breaking Unwritten Cultural Rules

Every organization has a culture, including yours. You can feel it. At times you can see it.

Unfortunately, if the culture isn’t well defined and documented, personal trial and error is the only mechanism for staff to learn it. And those experiences are costly.

When your staff learns the unwritten rules by accidentally breaking them, they pay a price. After all, unwritten rules are still rules.

If you are a leader who has never defined and documented your organizational culture, your staff wants you to know a few things about their experience.

In this article, I unpack three specific ways your undefined culture is affecting your staff team.

It will take you less than 5 minutes to read this…and I think your staff will appreciate you for it.

The Difference Between Change and Transformation

3 Minute Read…

Statistics show approximately 80 percent of change efforts fail. That’s a shockingly high percentage of churches and organizations that attempt to improve only to lose. Over time, the consistent failure rate gave birth to many change management techniques and processes, but even with these in place, the rate of success remains relatively unchanged. Why?

I believe the answer is primarily in verbiage.

Words matter. Is it possible that better words would lead to better change metrics? Perhaps.

We tend to interchange words, assuming they have the same, or at least similar, meaning.

This is true for change and transformation. These words are similar and directly connected, but unique in their usage and hopeful outcome. I’d love to define each term first, then discuss when each element is most valuable.

First, some definitions.

CHANGE

Change is what leaders do to make things better. Change typically focuses on past issues and present solutions. Change adjusts current actions, behaviors, and tactics. Some changes are minor, and some more significant. Most change efforts are incremental, affecting a portion of an organization, like a department. Change is vital for organizations and challenging to lead, but alone, making things better isn’t enough to ensure future success.

For example, replacing the sound system in your auditorium, adding breakfast for your volunteer teams, or swapping children’s ministry curriculum are changes. Each change carries the potential to make something better.

TRANSFORMATION

If change makes something better, transformation makes a better something. Transformation isn’t simply a more extensive change. Change makes old things better, while transformation replaces the old with the new. Transformation moves from individual behaviors to organizational beliefs, values, and culture. The scope and scale of transformation often disturb and disrupt every process and person within an organization, making transformation further reaching and more complex than change.

Change and transformation are connected, though. Every transformation requires changes, but not all changes are transformational. Transformations require an aligned accumulation of incremental changes pointed in the eventual transformation direction. This distinction is essential as leaders consider the extent of a pending improvement.

For example, on the transformation side, replacing the sound system in your auditorium is a change, but redesigning the entire worship service flow to reach the unchurched community around your church better is a transformation. Swapping children’s curriculum is a change, but moving your children’s ministry model from mostly large group experiences to a relational small group approach is transformational. These adjustments are broader in scope, take more time, and are focused on values, not just actions.

How do you know when to change or transform?

That’s a good question, and one required to be answered by all leaders who desire to remain relevant in their communities and industries. Here are a few considerations.

1.  SCALE: Changes tend to be more incremental. If the adjustment is more broad in scope, a transformation effort is likely. If you need to make something better, it’s a change. If it’s time to make a better thing, you need a transformation.

2.  TIMELINE: While not absolute, transformations take longer due to the broader organizational scope. Changes usually happen within a department or a portion of a team, whereas transformations often disturb every process and person in the organization.

3.  FOCUS: Change aims to modify outward practices, where transformation engages inward principles.

It is only a guess, but I wonder if attempting a change when a transformation is required is the most significant contributing factor to failure? Words do matter when they change our focus and expectation.

Perhaps it’s worth considering.

How can I help?

Helping you change to do something better and transform to become something better is why I created Transformation Solutions. At Transformation Solutions, we help leaders gain traction for organizational transformation.

Go right now to mytransformationsolutions.com and sign up for a free, 30-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

The Organizational Habit Working Against Change

3 Minute Read…

Have you ever heard this quote?

“Chaos often breeds life, while order breeds habit.” – Henry Adams, American Historian

I love it. Partially because it’s true, and partly because it reminds me why change is continuously necessary.

Let’s back up a moment and think about your organization.

Perhaps it’s a church like mine, or maybe a small business, or a restaurant. It doesn’t matter. The principle is the same. Every establishment begins with an idea and ends as an organization. I say, “ends,” because every organization does eventually end. And weirdly, it’s the “organizing” of the organization that works against us.

Here’s how it typically goes: An entrepreneur has a great idea. There’s a gap in the marketplace. A missing product. A need for a new kind of church. Or maybe just a passion. Whatever. The specifics don’t matter. The idea, product, or offering is tested. The test goes well, and the idea gains traction. Demand increases. I know I’m expediting the process dramatically, but while the timeline isn’t accurate, the steps are still the same. The increased demand puts a strain on the company/church/business. This is a welcomed strain, but a strain all the same. An employee is hired. Or elements of the business are outsourced. Complexity increases dramatically. What began as an idea now needs less leadership and more management.

Leaders create, and managers organize. The process of organizing the business keeps you in business. Unfortunately, organizing can just as quickly be the beginning of the end.

Here’s the problem with organizing: It breeds habits, just like our friend Henry Adams suggested. Organizing brings things into order, making the business habitual, predictable, and repeatable. I know, all good and necessary for scale and increased demand. But all this organizing can be detrimental to innovating.

FYI: This is why the term “serial entrepreneur” exists. Entrepreneurs don’t want to manage anything. They want to create. So when organizing the business becomes more necessary than creating the business, the entrepreneur leaves to start again. And again. And again.

Now, back to our quote. Organizing is necessary for any idea or business to become sustainable. Still, if not balanced with some chaos, the management will eventually squeeze out the leadership, bringing the end ever nearer. The secret is to introduce some chaos. And the best way to bring chaos is to allow for change.

Change is a necessity for growth. Businesses must change. Product offerings must change. Churches models must change. These changes bring life through the chaos of management disruption.

It’s almost an organizational life cycle litmus test. If there is no chaos, there’s likely to be no change.

So, how organized is your organization? Is it all habit? Is it missing a little change-driven chaos?

How can I help?

Helping you change to do something better and transform to become something better is why I created Transformation Solutions. At Transformation Solutions, we help leaders gain traction for organizational transformation. If you are ready for a little chaos, give me a call.

Go right now to mytransformationsolutions.com and sign up for a free, 30-minute conversation to decide if working together works for you.

Two Steps To Define and Document Your Culture

I believe it’s completely unreasonable and unfair to expect your staff to follow your organizational culture’s unwritten rules.

After all, they are unwritten!

In too many organizations, leaders convey what to do (mission + job description) without ever defining or describing how to do it (culture).

That’s what culture is — how we do it around here. And it’s the unwritten rules of the organizational culture that make success and failure unfair for employees.

In this article, I discuss how to define and document the organizational culture to set everyone up for more success (and less frustration).

Three Simple Steps to Improve Your Organizational Culture

I love considering the effects of organizational culture on the people within the organization.

It’s amazing how many people struggle to succeed in an organization because of the culture. Culture represents how we do what we do.

In this article, I talk more about culture, and more specifically, how we need to define and document our culture to help those working within it be more successful.

You Are Necessary, Becuase Change is Needed

NEW ARTICLE: 2.5 Minute Read…

If you’re a leader, you are needed. 

Probably more than you even realize. I know you don’t need my validation, but humor me for a few minutes. I want to explain why you are required.

Some quick linguistic context first, though. Words matter, and at times, we inappropriately use words interchangeably. We tend to do this with leadership and management. Interestingly, much of what we consider “leadership” is just management. Forming budgets, organizing teams, administering programs, and paying bills, while important, aren’t leadership efforts. This is the stuff of management. Don’t get me wrong, management is critical to organizational success, but this isn’t leadership. It’s management. Management is the process of organizing and administering what exists.

Then what is leadership? I’m glad you asked.

Leadership is the act of creating what must exist.

Leaders innovate and conceive. Leaders look at where things are against where things could or should be and close the gap. Leaders start companies, redefine product lines, and introduce new ventures. Leaders move locations. They change models and institute new strategies. This is the dynamic of leadership. It’s the action of creating what needs to exist. 

Ultimately, leaders create internal change to meet the ongoing presence of any external evolution. Leaders exist because change is required. And change is necessary because the world around us never stagnates. No business, company, or church is immune to our changing world. Just ask Blockbuster, Kodak, or the defunct church down the street.

Change is unrelenting. In the words of Heraclitus, “the only constant in life is change.” There is no stopping the change external to us. As leaders, we choose to change with the times or get left behind – personally, professionally, and organizationally. That why your leadership is so necessary. That’s why understanding and embracing change leadership and transition management are vital to success. 

Take a moment and remove your management hat. How is your church, really? Are there things that need to change?

Let me give you some potential options I see floundering in many churches today:
– Your culture
– Your staff structure
– Your strategy
– Your model and methods
– Your vision
– Your digital and physical channel alignment
– Your volunteer recruitment, retainment, and engagement
– Your generosity stream
– Your engagement pathway
– Your guest experience 

You don’t have to change anything, of course. You can choose to manage what you have. In doing so, I fear that you will one day look back and realize the opportunity to change has passed. 

It might be time to take a long, hard look in the mirror and decide to engage some change. Your community, your congregation, and those following you will be grateful. Not initially, but eventually.