“How can charities and churches develop Good Ideas for Local Projects?” was the question some of us asked last year as we thought about how a group of local churches could have an impact on Nine Elms on the South Bank.
To facilitate this further I developed a proforma to guide the thoughts of creatives and leaders through an analytical process to determine the focus, cost and time required for a typical project.
Two examples are shown here, one for a Centre for Spiritual and Personal Development, and one for a Family Hub to serve some local estates. Forfor a working copy to use email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a copy.
Reward people based on accomplishment, rather than on being a model employee. People … do some of their best work away from their desk … Dullness is the just reward of people who work all day and never take serious breaks.
Bob was a leader. He had strong values which had been developed over a few years of leadership. He shared his views about many subjects often and easily with people around him (reflecting his values of openness and authenticity) but he mostly shared his views about other members of the organisation (a high value on honest confrontation) and how they always resisted change and so would never grow personally or corporately (optimism wasn’t a key value for Bob).
Bob was in a team and Bob was always late. He never arrived on time for anything the team organised, and sometimes he didn’t arrive at all.
The team wanted to share Bob’s values but they also wanted him to appreciate theirs. They valued courtesy, restraint, consideration and kindness. But especially they valued their own time, and respecting other through promptness was one of their key values.
Bob’s carelessness over respecting their values made them sometimes wonder about Bob’s ….
I was recently discussing with a friend the tendency in organisations to TALK about ISSUES rather than ACT to solve PROBLEMS.
Teams tie themselves in knots wrestling with high level issues (which can never be fully resolved) and either no longer see local problems or won’t act on smaller problems in the fear of contradicting some higher level values. In either case, they have forgotten how to act to act quickly to solve presenting problems.
This friend had spent much of his working life in the military and told me about the OODA Loop, also known as the Boyd Diagram after Colonel John Boyd, a fighter pilot and military strategist. Boyd deconstructed the process of combat and realised that if he could cycle and recycle through four activities quicker than the enemy he would win the fight.
The activities are:
The essence is ACTION: nothing changes until the action is executed. Until then either nothing changes or the enemy strikes first.
My experience of most organisations is that they are more comfortable in Observe and Orientate and have a reticence Decide and Act to solve the problems waiting to be done.Here’s the OODA Loop:
Does anyone else worry in their organisation thatthe dominance of programmes may hide the absence of a heartbeat?\r\n\r\nProgrammes are imposed from the outside; heartbeats come from – the heart.\r\n\r\nProgrammes bring rotas; heartbeatsbring rhythm.\r\n\r\nProgrammes can be avoided; if heartbeatsare avoided …
I took a course once called ‘From Maintenance to Mission’. It was about how to move an organisation out of a maintenance mentality into new focus on mission.\r\n\r\nThat particular course was about churches, but looking around the businesses I see and work with it could have applied easily to almost any organisation. For some reason the complicated network of relationships both within organisations and between organisations and their contexts seem to bring a paralysis in innovative action and an uneven distribution of power.\r\n\r\nThere are some obvious reasons behind this but for now the question is, how do we move our organisations from Maintenance to Mission?\r\n\r\nHere’s one thought: become Innovative Learners\r\n\r\nWarren Bennis suggests that the way organisations learn is essential to the way they behave. He distinguishes between Maintenance Learning and Innovative Learning.\r\n\r\nMaintenance learning is a necessary but insufficient (and institutionalized) way of ‘…comparing current performance only with past performance, not with what might have been or what is yet to be.’ And so corrective action in organisations is usually designed to deal with perceived weaknesses and failures, and not to build on strengths. The learning is limited to what is necessary to maintain the existing organisation.\r\n\r\nI know many churches like this.\r\n\r\nInnovative learning is also necessary but difficult and hardly ever found. Innovative learning is the means by which an organisation can prepare for the future, working in anticipation of uncertainties that lie ahead. Bennis puts it this way: ‘Innovative learning deals with emerging issues – issues that may be unique, so that there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error; issues for which solutions are not known; and issues whose very formulation may be a matter for controversy and doubt .\r\n\r\nI know few churches like this.\r\n\r\nInnovative Learning was a phase coined in the study ‘No Limits to Learning’, sponsored by the Club of Rome. Bennis quotes:\r\n\r\n
“…for long-term survival, particularly in times of turbulence, change or discontinuity, another type of learning is even more essential [than maintenance Learning]. it is the type of learning that can bring change, renewal, restructuring, and problem formulation – and which we have called Innovative Learning.”
For my part, I’m restless when I’m not fully engaged in some aspect of Innovative Learning, but I am aware that it can tire people out.\r\n\r\nMy answer to this? \r\n\r\nBe careful to make the distinction between the Organisation and the Community it frames, and commit deeply to the Communitywhen innovating in the Organisation.\r\n\r\n‘Good leaders make people feel they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.’ Warren Bennis.
In the early 1980s, as the leadership movement was starting to gather momentum, Donald N Michael identified these five abilities for the agile leader in a fast changing new era. He called them ‘the new competence’. They are:\r\n
Acknowledging and sharing uncertainty
Responding to the future
Becoming interpersonally competent (i.e. listening, nurturing, coping with value conflicts etc.)
\r\nMarking each of these out of 5, I wonder how I’m doing?\r\n\r\nI think, better than halfway, not quite three quarters.\r\n\r\nWork to be done.