Archive for January, 2012


25 Jan

There are people standing in line to convince you the goals and dreams you have are unattainable. Don’t just ignore them; run from them. The world if filled with people passionately perusing mediocrity.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”                         (Samuel Langhorne Clemens – Mark Twain)


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Agent of Change

23 Jan

“I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, in any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.”  

(Steven Covey)



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The Architecture of Church Governance – A Need for Change

10 Jan

In December, Charisma Magazine posted an article titled Spiritual Trends to Watch in 2012 written by J. Lee Grady. He begins by stating . . . Some people are terrified of 2012. Their fear is based on the fact that the Mayans of ancient Mexico mysteriously ended their 5,126-year-old calendar on Dec. 21, 2012—as if they expected the world to end that day.”


I appreciate his perspective and agree; I’m not worried about 12/21/2012 either. However, there are emerging trends that will dramatically affect the church and, as Grady presents, some are very positive and some, unfortunately, negative. You can access the entire article on-line at:

Although I would like to dialogue on each of the trends, number nine (9) struck me in particular because of the book I published recently, For the Sake of the House: organizational and leadership requirements for the 21st century church. Let me explain.

Grady writes . . . Denominations will be redefined:

Younger leaders today are uncomfortable with the rigidity and uniformity imposed by denominations. They place a high value on relationships and aren’t attracted to wasteful or needless structures. In order to keep younger ministers on board, some Pentecostal denominations will ditch old wineskins and change tired policies. The emphasis will shift from strict hierarchy to team-based leadership, and from impersonal organization to organic relationships. Denominations that don’t make this vital shift will shrink and become irrelevant.

As I write in the opening of my book, “(For the Sake of the Church) is written to heighten awareness of the organizational dynamics of the church and advance new strategies to meet the demands of this century. Despite the growing urgency on today’s organizations to poise themselves for sustainability, many local congregations and religious organizations continue to function as they have for decades, . . .”

I believe we need to address this on two fronts: 1) church leadership (plural, a teams-based approach), and 2) the church organization. Many books and articles have been written about leadership, however I believe tradition, fear of change, and no real understanding of strategic foresight analysis still too often influence our dialogue.

From an organizational perspective, structures and designs do not just happen. It takes much time, much effort, and many talented people. Again, as with leadership, our tendency is to rely on the familiar, our traditions. However, the changes the church currently faces are different now; they are discontinuous and not part of any pattern. Even the smallest changes can make the biggest differences, even if they go unnoticed for a time. For leaders, this may be confusing and troubling. But with proper preparation and foresight, with strategies, correct planning, and implementation, the local church organization will continue to flourish. The way we organize will determine our effectiveness. We need to be missionally responsive, culturally adaptive, organizationally agile multiplication movements.

Reggie McNeal’s statement echoes these sentiments and the impact it will have on those who are part of our congregations: “Missional Christians will no longer be content to help their church succeed in getting better at “doing church” or consider their commitment to the church as an expression of spiritual depth. They are shifting their commitments to people and causes beyond the church.” 


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Oregon Ducks Football . . . not a “REAL” Team ! ? !

04 Jan

I live too close to the State of Oregon to be asking such questions or making such claims. In fact, tonight, when class resumes at an Oregon college where I teach, I may be tarred and feathered by Ducks fans. Even those who are die-hard Beaver fans may join in on the festivities since – at first glance – this heading is disparaging.

However, stay with me for a moment. Put away the knives, ropes, guns, clubs or other instruments of destruction you would like to use on me.

Let’s take this from a purely ‘theoretical’ approach.

By the way, congratulations to the Oregon Duck football team for winning the Rose Bowl. It is certainly a notable achievement by the coaches and players who, after a 95-year hiatus, bring the trophy back to Oregon. It was quite a game . . . quite an achievement against a formidable Wisconsin team.

Teams . . . this term has been around for years. Particularly used to describe groups of athletes working together to accomplish a common goal – a win – the term has migrated into the workplace. It is in this environment confusion takes place.

But first, back to the Oregon Ducks.

Did the Duck’s football team work together to accomplish this win? Yes. Is the football team really a team by the definition we use in a business setting? Maybe this is questionable . . . a good discussion question for theorists.

The definition of a ‘real’ team, given by Katzenbach and Smith, is: a team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

Let’s break this down. Certainly, the football team is not a small group . . . it is made up of over 100 players, coaches, and support personnel. You can, however, argue, while on the field, there are only eleven players at a time. This certainly meets the first criterion for being a ‘real’ team.

That’s stretching it a little, but let’s press on.

The definition requires members to have complementary skills. This is certainly met. If all players were quarterbacks, or linemen, or receivers . . . you get the drift. Yes, this requirement is met quite handily.

The team is certainly committed to a common purpose AND to a common performance goal AND to a common approach. AND, I would guess, they hold themselves mutually accountable.

So, what is the problem? How can I claim the Oregon Duck football team is not a REAL team?

Let’s take a look at some requirements. For a group of individuals to be an ‘effective’ group, they must meet the following:

  1. An understandable charter (agreement) . . . why does the group exist? What are they going to accomplish?
  2. Good communication . . . there are no barriers amongst members in ensuring information is shared.
  3. Defined member roles . . . every one knows what they are suppose to do.
  4. Time-efficient process . . . there are time constraints imposed – there is not a liassez faire approach taken.
  5. Reasonable accountability . . . there are expectations for each member and each is held to them by themselves and others.


Certainly the Oregon Ducks football team meets the criteria for being an effective working group. And they proved themselves very effective in the Rose Bowl. How about a real team? This is where the conflict occurs, right?

To be a real team, a group must meet ALL the following:

  1. Compelling performance purposes exceeds the sum of the individual goals.
  2. Members work jointly (cooperatively) to integrate complementary talents and skills.
  3. The work products / outcomes are mostly collective efforts.
  4. The adaptable working approach is shaped and enforced by the members . . . not by one individual.
  5. There is mutual plus individual accountability.


At first review, it would appear the football team meets all the requirements to be a REAL team. Yes?

Let’s press on before we answer the question . . .

Katzenbach and Smith also list five criteria met by a group that is considered a single-leader led work unit. They are:

  1. Each individual’s goals add up to the group’ purpose (reason for existence – performance outcome).
  2. Members work independently on individual tasks that match their skills and abilities.
  3. The work products – or outcomes – are mostly individual. They are not a result of collaboration amongst the members.
  4. The rigorous working approach is driven by the leader.
  5. There is strong individual accountability – the individual to himself and the individual to the leader.


WHO IS THE LEADER? Is there one individual who determines the plays, determines who ‘plays’ certain positions, determines who enters or leaves the game, determines who calls plays on the field, sets the rigorous working approach?

I’ll let you answer the question.

Maybe this discussion isn’t even relevant to sports. It will be a lively discussion tonight!

This discussion, however, IS certainly relevant to work environments, whether the situation is with a religious or other non-profit group, a private business, a corporate setting, or a multi-national conglomerate.

The implementation of a ‘real team’ approach and/or a ‘single-leader’ work unit discipline may determine the sustainability of the organization with which you are associated, especially in this fast-moving, ever-changing, uncertain world.

Remember, a single-leader work unit can act and produce much quicker than a real team. However, the output of a real team far exceeds that of a single-leader work unit. Sustainability in the 21st century will be achieved only by the appropriate implementation of both.


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Bad Leadership Habits

03 Jan

I recently read an article published by Forbes Magazine on-line titled The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives. You can read the entire article at:

Following is the list:

Habit # 1:  They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment

          Warning Sign for #1:  A lack of respect

Habit #2:  They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests

          Warning Sign for #2: A question of character

Habit #3:  They think they have all the answers

          Warning Sign for #3:  A leader without followers

Habit #4:  They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them

          Warning Sign for #4:  Executive departures

Habit #5: They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company

          Warning Sign of #5:  Blatant attention-seeking

Habit #6: They underestimate obstacles

          Warning Sign of #6:  Excessive hype

Habit #7: They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past

          Warning Sign of #7:  Constantly referring to what worked in the past

The author’s final warning . . . “The bottom line: If you exhibit several of these traits, now is the time to stamp them out from your repertoire.  If your boss or several senior executives at your company exhibit several of these traits, now is the time to start looking for a new job.”

It’s 2012 and there are hundreds of lists of things we should and shouldn’t do to make us successful. Choose wisely.





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