As noted in yesterday’s post, change often comes in only two varieties: the trivial and the traumatic. Frantic, crisis-driven change is a poor substitute for timely transformation. There must be a better way.
We need look no further that our body’s automatic systems for some useful metaphors.
When you jump on a treadmill or pick up some weights, your heart starts to pump more blood, automatically. When you stand in front of a large audience to speak, your adrenal glands ramp us the production of adrenaline, spontaneously. When you walk from shade to bright sunlight, your pupils contract reflexively. Automatically, spontaneously, reflexively – these aren’t the words we use to describe how our organizations change, but they should be. That should be our goal: change without trauma.
In the mind flipping, VUCA world we live in, what matters is not merely an organization’s success at a point in time, but its evolutionary success over time. I recently remarked that being a part of my church’s rapid growth was like a “rocket ride” – and then a friend reminded me that rockets follow a parabolic path, and that the satellites they launch into space ultimately come back to earth in a flaming shower of debris. Ouch!
How do you keep an organization – like your church – in “orbit?” Building a truly adaptable organization is a lot of work. It requires a shift in aspirations, behaviors, and operating systems.
- An adaptable organization rethinks its strategy without having to walk through the valley of the shadow of death; it reinvents itself before getting mugged by the future.
- An adaptable organization is one that captures more than its fair share of new opportunities. It’s always redefining itself, always pioneering the new.
- An adaptable organization is more successful in attracting and retaining talent; it will have team members who are more engaged, more excited to show up every day, and are enthusiastic about their work.
- An adaptable organization will be more productive in responding to emerging “customer” needs. It will take the lead in redefining customer expectations in positive ways.
Building a church that is as resilient as it is efficient may be the most fundamental organizational challenge facing today’s ChurchWorld leaders.
Adaptability really matters now.
Inspired by Gary Hamel’s What Matters Now as part of my research for a presentation at WFX Atlanta 9/19/12