By Todd Adkins
In the past a leader may have led one or two major changes throughout his or her entire career. And now major changes happen every 5 to 10 years, and it feels like every 5 to 10 minutes. This is our lot as leaders. This is the stewardship job and responsibility we have been given. But two things are happening right now that haven’t happened before.
Change in this world is every increasing, while there is also an ever-increasing access to information, data, and expert opinions. Many leaders now feel like they need a degree in chaos theory in order to move forward. Never have we had a greater need to implement change. And never have we had so many tools at our disposal to do so. But I am afraid this access has created a lot of confusion and the result is fear undermining our leadership and doubt in the way we lead. And this is not something we can get away from because leading in the church means leading change.
Leading change in any organization is both an art and a science and it requires us to be agile in our leadership. We tend to overemphasize the science part and rely on our superior plan, but that is only half of the equation here. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And the other half of the equation is the art of leading people. You may have to adjust your plan when you get punched in the mouth to align with your unwavering purpose as a church – which is the gospel. And, of course, yes, planning is critical to that, but if you can’t lead people, then you can’t lead well in an ever-changing world. That’s the bottom line.
With these ever-changing dynamics I want to provide you with a step-by-step guide to lead effective change and to become more agile leaders. In doing so, you are better prepared to adapt to whatever unforeseen circumstances you may encounter in your church or ministries. And these frameworks are designed for you to use over and over again, not just in the present day. They will be adapted to your church and your situation – that’s how they’re designed. Now, let’s begin with a framework you can use anytime.
This tool is adapted from Fisher and Sharp in Getting It Done. It’s going to help you think about what’s working well and address what’s not working well. And as you walk through this process, you will discover what to do next in your church or ministry to move it forward.
First, we look at your present reality. This is really all about data. Facts are your friends. What are the facts of the situation, not the latest email you got. What is really the problem here? Is it something that is working, but could be working better? How might you improve that?
This moves you into diagnosis. When we move into diagnosis, we are looking at our present theory. And we want to theorize and diagnose what the current reality is, why it is the way it is. We want to uncover What’s actually causing the issue that we are trying to address and contributing to this data that we looked at before.
Then you want to look at your future theory. You want to decide what direction you want to go. You want to anticipate what your next move might be as a church, what strategy can you use to address your current issue. That’s what you are doing here, you are setting that direction.
Finally, you move into your future reality. Moving into future reality you take decisive action on what you will do. What are the specific next steps? Who is going to accomplish those things? Walking through these steps for strategic thinking will help you better know how to maximize your ministry.
As you determine what to do next, we are going to walk through a change process. The most utilized change management process every written was by John Kotter in Leading Change. We used Kotter’s original eight steps and adapted them to your church and making sure that you are able to remain agile and lead change in this season and in seasons to come.
The first step we are going to walk through is what matters now – what is the most essential thing to your church and how to carry it out. In step two, we are going to ready your team. You need people with authority and influence and the right skill sets to remain agile as you adjust and adapt your ministry to the change and a new vision. In step three, you want to cast vision and strategy. You must cast vision and strategy to show how this agility and adaptability will actually be the best course of action for your church moving forward. In step four, we want to communicate, communicate, communicate. Communication should be clear, concise, and genuinely from the heart. We will give you a framework to help you do that. Step five is reallocating resources. You must consider what you have to stop, what you have to shift, what you need to strategize, and what you need to scale in your ministry. Again, we want to provide clarity and help you decide and determine what goes into each of those categories, and lead your team through that process. In step six, we want to create wins. A flywheel is difficult to start turning, but once that flywheel is moving the momentum keeps it going forward and it gets easier and faster as it goes. We want to make sure we set you up to do that now and in the days to come, which leads into step seven – remaining agile. Change is transformation, ultimately, and it helps you to remain agile and best meet the needs of your church and ministry in an ever-changing world.
Now, we want you to take a few moments to walk through the strategic thinking framework by yourself, and then with your team, and you will be ready for step one which is processing what matters right now.
To help you lead change in your church or ministry, our team has created a FREE course on Leading Rapid Change: 7 Steps to Agile Leadership in your church. Click here to get started.