Change… it’s an adventure!
For illustration purposes, we will look at an example from the local church. If you are in another industry, it may be helpful to know that the local church has some of the most difficult dynamics to navigate when it comes to changing. For those of you in the local church, you have just said “amen”!
Here is our case study: First Church has been around for about 60 years. They have had steady growth in their membership and financial giving for the past 15 years, which corresponds with the arrival of the current pastor. Prior to that time, they were a small church with a few families who made most of the decisions – and gave most of the money. Those two issues were related.
Over the past 5 years much of the leadership and decision making has been given to paid staff. The structure of the church is still designed to let the members have the final say in how the church will operate.
Here is the issue: The staff wants to rework the Sunday morning worship schedule to accommodate a new worship service. This will impact the current worship service and the Sunday school schedule. How would you proceed? Let’s go to the formula and see if you are right.
C iff (D)(V)(F) > S
Most people jump in and say “cast the vision for the new service – give them a compelling idea about all the good that it will do“. A few others jump in with “Tell them what steps you are taking to make it happen- get on board or get out of the way!” Interesting thoughts. But, both are wrong.
Here’s why: Have you ever watched a college football game that went into overtime? This season there were many examples of this! The basic concept is that both teams are given a chance to score during the overtime period. A coin toss determines who gets to choose whether or not they want to the ball first. Contrary to what you may think, it is better to NOT take the ball first. You want to know what the other team is able to do with their scoring opportunity (nothing, 3 points or 6 points). Once you know what they have done, you know what you have to do to win – or at least keep the game tied to force another overtime.
The transferable concept is this: to be effective in creating change, you must know what you will have to overcome. In this formula, the starting point is understanding “S“.
S = Status Quo
The Status Quo is based on many visible and invisible factors. In our example from First Church, there several. For a second, think about an example from nature that lines up with how the Status Quo is formed. Pearls.
Pearls are created over time by an irritation inside an oyster. When they emerge, they are loved (and hard to break!) P.E.A.R.L
Preferences (I don’t like this idea)
Emotions (we have gone to worship at 11:00 for 40 years)
Authority (actual and perceived, who can do what)
Resources (do we have the people and money to make this happen)
Logistics (can the facilities handle this change)
None of these issues are wrong to explore, or necessarily even wrong views to hold. But all of them combine to create an energy that pushes against change. It becomes easier not to change than to try and engage these issues. Most change attempts die because they do not generate enough momentum to overcome this “Status Quo”.
C iff (D)(V)(F) > P.E.A.R.L. or “S”
Before you begin any change initiative, you must understand what you are working to overcome, not just what you want to see happen!
The leadership of First Church must put together a picture of what they will have to overcome before they even consider anything else.
Next time…What’s left?