As you may have surmised from my musings, they are about missional operational strategy, discipleship, technology and most importantly about change. Change is about education. There is no change unless there is a learning process and we must remember if we do not learn, we do not change, and we will not grow as an organization or as a people of God. One thing I have learned over the years working in various industries is that change doesn’t happen by osmosis. So too with the Church.
Change can only occur successfully through education. (re-read that again)
In my prior life as a strategy consultant, I witnessed a company implementing an ERP financial system and the controller claiming the accounting staff did not need any training let alone education because they were accountants and they should be able to grasp the system by staring at it on the computer screen. The controller was an example of change by osmosis. And you guessed it, and this did not work.
Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary defines technology as 1: technical language, two a: applied science b: a scientific method of achieving a practical purpose, 3: the totality of the means employed to provide objects necessary for human sustenance and comfort (pg. 1211).
All three elements of the definition require education to achieve any meaningful state of success. In the thirty plus years of my professional career overcoming the objection to training and especially education has been a constant. And this has been especially true in the area of technology. When I reflect back over the years, I am astounded at how many technology managers held the same belief as the controller. All believing osmosis would do the trick. In my work with church organizations, I am experiencing a similar phenomenon. Often for many churches you have just enough money for the software and very little for training let alone education.
OK, if you are scratching your head about the difference between education and training.
There is a big difference between training and education in my book. Training/Practice is all about what keys to push, what drop-down menus do what etc. Education is all about how do I use this technology, the data it produces to enhance our mission, to speed up the process, and to make our people mentally prosperous in the mission.
Sometime when you are letting your mind drift think about this: If the technology we have today existed during the early church and the patristic period what would the processes, operations, and mission of the church look like and what would they have written and what would they have preserved as artifacts? Think of St. Paul with email, with social media, with data mining, would we have a different church? I don’t know but think about it and see where your mind takes you on the journey.
If you believe you can reinvent your organization in all that it takes to make a reinvention possible you must realize that a set of inevitable changes will occur. You will have a different organization; you will have various employee job functions differently from the past and new members of the congregation that you did not have previously actively engaged. Your mission will be the same, keep that in mind. Your relationships with the community, staff, and other churches will be different, and you will realize that you are dealing with new technologies and that is the difference it makes. All in all, this necessitates education for change to be successful and non-disruptive. Technology is disruptive in and of itself. Change must not be disruptive, and that is where education plays a vital role in success. Education makes change acceptable.
Will anyone in your organization resist change? YES! Absolutely!
Think about it; you can count on both hands the number of people who will not combat change. The most prominent obstacle you encounter when reinventing your church/organization is the difference people will experience.
I would suggest you start to think and understand that the word “change” really means “education.” Start with your staff. Keep in mind a fundamental concept that is common to all human beings is the reality that as humans we are adaptable. We are the most adaptable species on the planet. So why do we go “kicking and screaming” when we encounter change? Because we have an intellect and we need to be educated to understand why change is occurring and how it will happen and what the results will be when the change occurs. We spent the first twenty-five years of our lives in some form of formal education and what makes us think that should ever stop? Osmosis only works with solvent molecules.
Education raises the question of what impediment is preventing a person from changing. You need to base the knowledge that will be gained through education on what obstacle you are overcoming. For example, if the barrier to change is a lack of vision, your action step is to listen to your congregation and learn from them and formulate. If your impediment is a lack of judgment you need to perform a reality test, analyze the results learn from the findings and act. My all-time favorites of obstacles to change are when I hear “this is our way of thinking, and it’s our culture.” Both of these require the action step of formal education and making your culture explicit.
The most difficult of all to deal with regarding change are what I call the “crabs.” Yes, you know who they are in your organization. The cynics will always come out of the woodwork. Now have you ever watched a crab at the beach move? They crawl backward. Remember that when you encounter the crabs in your organization: Crabs crawl backward.
For most people, the obstacles to change is the unfamiliarity with the new. The only way to overcome or to ‘blow up’ the barrier is through education. When you look at the technologies of the fourth and fifth industrial revolutions, you find that most people in your organization lack training and especially education on the what and how these technologies will be sufficient to accomplish the mission of God. You can’t think about these technologies as a technical person but think of them as your modern tools to achieve the purpose of the mission of God. If you only think of them as “technology” that seems to be “divorced” from work at hand you will experience a failure.
I want to point out another failure I have experienced over the years, and that is what I call “piecemeal” education. Where you educate one or two people and assume through osmosis, it will spread through the department and the team. Hogwash. You end up just “bayoneting the wounded in the processes.” Technical people, administration people, ministers of all varieties and leaders must have some level of education and thus an understanding of what it is that drives the success of the mission through technology. Understanding what success means for them in what they do daily with the tools at hand. We need to understand the new technologies of the fourth and fifth industrial revolutions woven into both the mission and technical strategies.
Education changes the culture.
The upbringing of most people is to be averse to risk. You start by discovering the critical impediment by asking the question “how do you prevent your ‘culture’ from getting in the way?” What steps do you need to take to make sure you successfully change someone else’s culture?
The crabs. What do you do with the crabs? Ever watch a bucket full of crabs? They aggressively try to crawl out of the bucket. They don’t care about their fellow crabs actually if you watch them they will pull each other down as one gets some momentum climbing out of the bucket. Education needs to be the change agent for your crabs. Knowledge must at a minimum “neutralize” them, or they will just like the crabs in the bucket destroy each other.
In my past when I worked with the late Dr. Goldratt, he often talked about the six layers of buy-in to overcome resistance to change. The six segments are all a process of education. Let’s take a quick look at them:
1. Agree on the problem
2. Agree on the direction of the solution
3. Agree that the solution solves the problem
4. Agree that the solution doesn’t lead to adverse effects on the
5. Agree on how to overcome any obstacles going forward
6. Agree to implement
Next week we will take a more in-depth look at these six layers of buy-in.
I will after next week combine the two musing into one PDF pamphlet and if you would like a copy just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.