Last night I finished reading Lisa Bodell’s book, Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution. Back when I was a young, know-it-all elitist (hey, I’m not young anymore), I looked down my nose at business and leadership books. They were secular, shallow, consumerist and not theological I sneered.
Of course, that was before I realized:
A) mainline seminaries do an atrocious job of preparing pastors to…you know…actually lead, vision and fundraise for an organization and
B) the mainline churches those mainline seminaries aren’t preparing pastor to lead are in desperate straits, in desperate need of leadership and change.
So I’ve reassessed and have read a good number of book’s like Lisa Bodell’s. Some are good, some not so much- just like theological books. Kill the Company, is in the former category; in fact, it’s like a kick in the pants/splash of cold water/wake up call/epiphany sort of good.
Bodell’s basic premise is that what hold companies back and leads to failure isn’t their inability to dream big, identify the right next step or sketch goals. It’s their inability to let go of the status quo in order to achieve those dreams. Weighed down by the demands of the status quo, and all the internal processes, procedures and loyalties that come with it, employees never have the time to get to the vision thing. And after a while they cease believing change is possible.
Here’s the thing.
You could pretty much go through the entire book and just scratch out the word ‘company’ and in its place put ‘local church’ or ‘denomination.’ Her assessment is spot-on for what ails churches.
For example, here’s this from page 6:
In fact, too many
CEO’sDenominational Officials and executivesLaity refuse to see that what has generally been accepted as the undisputed path to success and profits is in many ways holding their companieschurches back. They have forgotten that great businessministry is not just about improving on what you’ve got; it’s about inventing something different and better. So they insist that employeespastors try to build on bad things rather than allowing them to tear down the bad and do something new. TheyDenominations, Boards, Conferences et al implement supposedly innovation-enhancing programs that create additional layers of process, making it so difficult just to get things done that peoplepastors, staff and lay leaders no longer feel that they have control over their work. This leads them to resign any dreams they might have of making a real difference to the company. They become complacent zombie workers, repeating the same thing day after day, lacking any incentive to be innovative.
The penalty for taking a risk is greater than it is for not taking any risk. Yet by definition, an innovative
companychurch is a place that embraces and rewards (smart) risk. It’s one where people are encouraged and, yes, paid to think. And question. And challenge. And experiment.