Discerning a Change? I Can Cut Your Decision Time in Half

By | Change, Church, Leadership | 2 Comments

I think we waste a lot of time in change management that we really don’t have to waste. Here’s a time saving tip when you are considering a change.

I’m guessing, but I believe this could cut your decision-making in half.

How to save time in change management:

First decide if you’re going to make the change.

Before you spend any time deciding how you will implement the change, decide if it is a change you are going to make.

I’ve been in brainstorming meetings so many times where we are trying to decide whether or not we would make a change. The conversation quickly starts going towards the details of how we would implement the change. It is almost as if we had already decided to make the change.

And time is wasted. We never even made the change. In fact, we talked ourselves out of it by getting into the details. We could have saved a lot of time if we had first decided if it was a change worth making.

Many times, after a brainstorming session, we decide not to make the chage at all. But I’ve learned people like to discuss the how. So, when the conversation goes to how, before the decision has even been made to change, I like to draw our attention back to the original question. “Should we make this change – or not?”

  • Is it a worthy change?
  • Will it move the mission forward?
  • Will people invest the time and energy into making it a reality?

Many times there will be no passion towards accomplishing the change regardless of how good the change seems. Sometimes it is clearly not good timing for the change and, with a quick discernment, everyone knows it. Maybe it is a change that is needed, but it is best  is to wait. Tabling the idea for now makes more sense. Sometimes the win is not worth the effort.

If we are supposed to do it. If God is calling us to this. If this makes sense for us to do – or try – regardless of the risks or fears or unknowns in the room – then we will find a way to make it happen. We will plow through the details and work for solutions. When we know it is something we are going to move forward with the answers are easier to find.

Rather than continuing the discussion of a change you aren’t even going to make now save your time and energy for another discussion.

There are exceptions, but:

Discussing the “how” before the “if” usually wastes valuable time and energy.

If its a worthy and needed change you’ll figure out the how.

Any questions?

The Second-Tier Leadership Principle – (This has made me a better leader.)

By | Change, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

A number of years ago I began thinking in terms of “tiers of leadership”. It was during the first year of a new position. I saw so many things I wanted to do in the organization, but I knew I could never accomplish everything I wanted to do in the first year or even first two years.

Real change in any organization – the kind which changes ingrained structure and systems – DNA type changes – and sometimes people changes – often take steady progress over a number of years. So, it was helpful to me to start thinking of things in terms of tiers of leadership. Staggering significant changes over seasons of my leadership made me a more effective – and less frustrated leader. Tiers of leadership is not putting off things I don’t want to do. It is doing what I can realistically and effectively do in this season and then scheduling things I couldn’t do as well now into another season of leadership.

Since then the use of tier leadership has been confirmed for me many times. It is such an important understanding of how I lead; especially when I am new to an organization. I am naturally wired to come into a new position ready to conquer the world. Even after years of being in leadership, I can naively think we can accomplish everything that needs to be done quickly.

Time and experience has proven otherwise – at least in my leadership.

I’m convinced, if a leader doesn’t understand “tiered leadership” – or whatever term they choose to use to describe it – the leader will often think he or she is doing something wrong as a leader. They will wonder why everything hasn’t improved yet. They may even question their ability to lead. Ultimately those who are trying to follow will be frustrated as well. (I often have to share with our staff and board what I’m doing, or they will think I am ignoring important things.) All of this simply because they tried to do everything in one “tier” of leadership.

Just because a leader is not able to accomplish everything needed in one “tier” of leadership is not an indication that they are leading poorly. They may be leading poorly (that would have to be another post), but it might be they are simply being strategic as a leader.

Bottom line – A second-tier leadership understanding allows the leader to set realistic goals and objectives in the first tier and then shift other goals and objectives to the second tier of leadership.

Another understanding of second-tier leadership, which is also vital to know, is that second-tier leadership is often harder than first-tier leadership. And again, this is not because you put off doing the hard things. Usually it is because the timing for the harder things – strategically speaking – made more sense to do them in the second tier.

Let me try to explain.

First tier leadership involves the onboard process of the leader. The leader is learning the organization and the organization is learning the leader.

In my experience, realistic first tier changes – even the messy ones involving replacing people – are usually more obvious to people. Everyone knows they need to be done, even if they are hard to accept. Plus, a new leader has a short window where people expect some changes to occur.

First tier decisions are often the ones, which bring the fastest momentum to the organization. It may involve vision-casting or strategic planning. These first tier decisions may be the ones intended to either build a leader’s credibility or stabilize a declining organization.

In the second tier of leadership – the changes that need to be made are often less obvious. These changes may, for example, involve good people, who haven’t necessarily done anything wrong, but who are no longer a good fit for the organization. Everyone loves them and no one expects them to go anywhere. Changes made with these people will be harder to accept and often require a “second tier” of leadership.

Another example – It might be that in the second-tier of leadership is where a leader begins to move the organization to change things, which are more deeply entrenched into the DNA of the organization. The leader may have avoided them in the first tier, because he or she did not feel they had built enough trust to tackle these changes. (This is being strategic, not negligent as a leader.)

The bottom line understanding again – and the point of this post –

A second-tier leadership understanding allows the leader to set realistic goals and objectives in the first tier and then shift other goals and objectives to the second tier of leadership.

To be clear, in my experience, there is also usually a third tier of leadership – and a fourth tier and a fifth tier and… Well, hopefully you get the point.

Understanding the tiers of leadership, and planning reasonable advances or changes in the organization for each tier, will help a leader feel, and probably actually be, more successful as a leader.

5 Suggestions For Adding Structure to a Growing Organization

By | Change, Innovation, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | 9 Comments

I think there is value in unstructured growth. We shouldn’t be afraid of growth we cannot understand. It’s messier, harder to contain, even uncomfortable at times, but it also keeps leaders energized, maintains momentum, and helps spur exponential growth.

As the organization grows – and as strategy changes – additions in structure have to be added. Even entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid of healthy structure.

Adding structure, however, can be a painful and disruptive process if not handled carefully. We must add structure strategically.

Too many churches and organizations are stalled, because when things got messy due to growth they simply added a new rule.

The fact is structure should never be too inflexible. It should change with the organization. It should even change at times with the people who are in the organization.

How do you add good, helpful structure in a growing organization?

Here are 5 suggestions to add good structure to an organization:

The change should make sense with the organizational DNA.

We have to be careful altering something in a way which could disrupt the fiber, core, or root foundation of the organization. DNA is formed fast, but changed slowly – and sometimes never. It’s who an organization is and who people have come to expect it to be. It’s hard to disrupt this without disrupting future potential for growth.

For example, the structure we tried to add or change in church revitalization looked different from the structure we had in church planting.

And every church and organization is unique.

The structure added should not impede progress.

This seems common sense to me, but I’ve learned this is not always the case. Structure should further enable the completion of the vision, not detract from it.

Notice I said progress not grow with this suggestion. It could be you need some temporary structure which slows growth for a season. When I was in city leadership there was a time we needed to slow the pace of growth so we could catch up with infrastructure in the city. We actually saw that as progress. If it slowed growth forever it would no longer be progress.

An organization which never grows will eventually die (hence the following suggestion.) The key is structure should consider the future potential for long-term sustainability of the organization.

It should accommodate or encourage continued future growth.

Again, this should make sense. The problem is we don’t always ask the right questions to see if this is true.

Structure’s purpose should be to help the organization continue to grow over time. Structure should make things more efficient — not less efficient. Healthy structure enables growth. It does not control growth (except in rare cases as noted previously).

It should hit the center of acceptance.

This is a hard one to balance. Not everyone will agree with any change, but if the structure is universally opposed then it may need to be considered more closely before being implemented.

This goes back to the suggestion about DNA. You shouldn’t make change based solely upon popularity – it needs a better thought process than simply what people like. Leadership is never about making people happy.

But, at the same time, if you want the structure to be sustainable and helpful it must meet general acceptance, which leads to the last suggestion.

People should understand the why.

This may be the most important one of all of these. People are more likely to accept structure when they can identify the value to them and their area of responsibility, but at least the value to the overall organization.

I once interviewed Zig Ziglar. He continually said, “If people understand the why they will be less opposed to the what.” I’ve learned how true this principle is over the years.

We took a year to make one structural change, so people could clearly understood why we were making it. Some people still didn’t understand but most people did. And it was a widely accepted change in our structure.

What would you add to my list?

A Meeting No Leader Likes to Have, But Should Always Consider Having

By | Change, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | 2 Comments

Years ago a very successful business mentor of mine gave me a vital tip about a necessary meeting all leaders should consider. Unfortunately, since I received this advice, I have had to use it several times through. It’s never easy.

You don’t ever want to have this meeting. Trust me. You certainly don’t want to have it very often.

But having this meeting could avoid you having other even harder meetings than this one. And it could turn out to be a blessing for everyone.

It’s called “The Meeting Before the Last Meeting”.

It’s a meeting you have when –

  • Someone is not performing well on the team.
  • You’ve warned them numerous times. (Make sure you’ve done this)
  • They have exhausted their chances with you or with the team.
  • You’re at the point where you believe it would be better for them to leave the organization than to stay.

Before you release them (which is one of the hardest things a leader has to do)…

Have one more meeting.

The Meeting Before the Last Meeting

It’s a meeting where you give grace, a final chance, and clear guidance as far as what needs to improve – including a date by which you expect to see results.

Of course, as a good practice, you should document everything. Have a witness with you. Answer any questions the person might have about what you are expecting.

But here’s the whole reason you’re having the meeting. You make it very clear this is the meeting before the last meeting.

The meeting after this meeting will not be fun for anyone.

A follow up meeting, if things don’t improve will actually be the last meeting – the very last one. The working relationship would be terminated at this point.

According to my friend, the meeting before the last meeting usually produces one of two results rather quickly.

  • A tremendous turnaround. And you’ve secured a valuable team member.
  • Or a definite confirmation the last meeting is the right decision.

I have had tremendous success, with both results, implementing this meeting into my leadership.

A couple things should be noted. First, you don’t always need the meeting before the last meeting. There are times it is very clear what needs to be done. The person isn’t a good fit, they have lost all energy for the mission, or they have gone so far they can’t recover in their current position. The meeting before the last meeting is for those people you believe have capability within the organization if they would pull themselves together and perform to their full potential. (And in my experience, for those who have potential, they receive it as a tremendous act of grace.)

Second, you have to have the fortitude to follow through if there isn’t improvement in performance. For this to be effective there can only one meeting before the last meeting. This is the hard part of leading.

No leader enjoys replacing people. With the right person, and handled carefully, this can actually be a very affirming meeting which produces tremendous results.

7 Criteria to Realize Genuine Organizational Change

By | Change, Church, Innovation, Leadership | 15 Comments

In my observation, many leaders want change and know they need to lead for change, but they haven’t been able to actually produce change.

I think there are reasons for this.

The process of change isn’t easy. And, it doesn’t happen overnight. Some leaders move too fast. Others move too slow. Plus, not every church, business or non-profit will tolerate change – or at least to the level prescribed by a leader. The leader needs to know when to push and when to leave things alone for a while.

It’s a delicate process leading change. And, the simple fact is, some leaders simply don’t know how to introduce healthy change. (This is not intended as a slam. It’s a reality statement.)

I believe change is necessary for growth. I don’t think everything has to change. Some things never should. But, change, even the hardest kind of change, has to occur if progress towards worthy visions is going to continue to occur.

This post is sort of a gut check for those who want to lead change – attempting to reconcile some of the criteria to be a good change agent leader.

Please understand, I’m not an expert on change, nor am I claiming to be. I have led lots of change – some successfully and some not so much – but I’ve worked with dozens of leaders in leading change. And I’ve there are some things we do which work better than others.

7 criteria to realize genuine change:

Have a willingness to fail.

Not all change will work. You can strategize and plan, but change at some level involves the risk it may not work. Good change agent leaders know this in advance and are willing to accept the challenge – and not defeated if it doesn’t. They try again in another way.

Be able to withstand strong criticism.

Change invites pushback. Change changes things. (That’s deep, isn’t it?) Change is uncomfortable and people will tell you the degree of discomfort they are feeling. Sometimes in passionate – even mean ways. If they don’t tell you they will – with passive aggression – tell others who will eventually tell you. You’ll feel unpopular at times. Rumors may spread about you. Good change agent leaders keep the vision ever before them and are motivated more towards the accomplishment of it than making sure everyone is pleased with them personally.

Constantly evaluate and be willing to adjust plans accordingly.

You can’t be a good change agent and equally be a control freak. You are leading people through sometimes muddy waters. You’ll need to solicit buy-in from others. You will need to collaborate. You’ll need to process the success rate of the change and recalibrate as needed. You’ll have to delegate – and this means release the right to determine the exact way something is done. Progress towards the goal must be more important than the exact actions taken towards achievement of them.

Be able to outlast the opponents of change.

When the naysayers show up good change agents are willing to stand strong for that which they believe is worth fighting. It will likely take longer than you hoped it would. At times you’ll feel like quitting, but good change agent leaders stand the test of time.

Think bigger than today.

Change is always going somewhere new. Always. So change agent leaders have to be able to think about the options which aren’t currently on the table. You’ve got to think beyond now and even beyond the most immediate future. You have to look for what others can’t see, choose not to or are afraid to see (or admit).

Be willing to challenge status quo.

This the kicker, isn’t it? Change agent leaders have to go against the way things are being done and the way things have always been done. We are talking about change. Get it? Change. This means something is changing. (Oh, such a deep post.) You have to move people from the center on which they’ve grounded themselves. This is never comfortable. But, good change agent leaders are willing the challenge what has become standard or traditional in people’s minds.

Work within a DNA conducive to change.

Here’s another kicker – and this one has more to do with the organization or people receiving the change than the leader implementing change. Every church and every organization in which you are called to bring change isn’t wired for change. The fact is some of those said churches and organizations are going to die – they’ll stall – perhaps for long periods, but they’ll eventually just fade away. And nothing you can say or do will encourage otherwise. In the end, you can’t lead people where they don’t want to go. The sooner you can learn this fact the quicker you can try to be a good change agent where change may actually occur.

Well, those are some hard realizations. I’ve studied and observed them by working with dozens of churches, businesses and non-profits and in the organizations and churches in which I have led. And, most of all, I’ve seen them true in my personal journey as a leader.

I should note, I believe we can grow as leaders in these characteristics. Of course, the last one we can’t do a lot about – but, even there, I’ve learned some places where others have said change couldn’t or wouldn’t occur haven’t always proven to be true. Sometimes the answer to making better changes is simply we must become better leaders.

What have you seen as necessary criteria to be a good change agent?

7 Suggestions for Navigating Change When Standing in Muddy Water

By | Change, Innovation, Leadership | 5 Comments

Have you ever navigated change through muddy water?

What I mean is have you ever had to lead change when no one knew for sure what change was needed? Or have you had to lead change when there wasn’t clear agreement on where the organization needs to go? Perhaps when some players on the team were uncommitted or complacent? Or when the leadership pipeline – is supposed to be leading – wasn’t clearly defined? Maybe when the season of decline has been so long no one remembers what success looks like? Or when ____ . Hopefully you get the idea.

It’s like navigating through muddy water. Ever been there?

Continuing with the muddy water metaphor, what do you do during those times?

Here are 7 suggestions when you are leading change through muddy water:

Analyze the water – How muddy is it? You need to know the work you have before you. How desperate are things? You’ll get very discouraged if you try to lead through semi-cloudy water and find out it really wasn’t muddy at all, but in fact you were standing in quicksand.

This process can take a day, a week or a year depending on the depth of the water and how long it’s been muddy. Give it time. Learn the issues. Learn the players. Hire a professional water analyzer for perspective if needed. But, know the degree of mud in your water first.

Be honest – “This change is going to impact you and it’s going to be hard.” How is that for transparency? It may sound too forward, but people know something new has to happen. They may not yet be able to admit it. They may not want change. They may even resist it, but they know when change is about to occur. Go ahead and admit the obvious.

You can and should encourage people that things will improve, but they already know there is a problem. The water is muddy. They can see that. They may even be able to taste it in their lemonade. Admit it. People will trust you more when you are honest.

Cast a clear vision – Where are you going? How clear must the water be for you to be satisfied? How do you propose to get there? What’s the timetable for doing so?

Share as much as you know today. People need to be assured that good things are being planned and on the horizon and clearer water is on the way.

Communicate well – Communication is always important, but especially during times of unrest, confusion or chaos. When the water is muddy, people become frustrated. They need to know what’s happening and what is being done to clear the muddy water.

Remember, effective communication is speaking and listening. Do both. Do them often. Do them well. Pastors, some of your best messages should be the ones where you are casting vision.

Stand strong – Muddy currents can pull you under quickly. You will heed to be firmly anchored as a leader.

Make sure you are keeping yourself healthy, emotionally, physically and spiritually so you can navigate the muddy waters.

Challenge when needed – During difficult times, and in especially muddy conditions, there will be some who try to disrupt any positive change that occurs.

You’ll have to challenge those who want to add more mud to the water. If you have to remove some who prefer to stay muddy then do so. Ultimately you lead with those who are willing to grab a shovel and help clear the mud.

Keep casting clearer water – You’ll have to encourage with a healthy vision of where you are going over and over again.

This is the time for leaders to be very visible and very approachable. People will want to know someone is guiding the ship though the improving waters.

Have you ever navigated through muddy water? Any suggestions you’d add?

Two Types of Creative’s That Bring Success to a Team

By | Change, Church, Innovation, Leadership | No Comments

There are two types of creatives I love to have on teams I lead. Sometimes I think we recognize the first one, but fail to appreciate the second type.

Creative at shaping the vision.

These people help us see where we need to go in the future. They are thought leaders and trend setters. They test the boundaries of what’s been done in the past. They love a challenge of figuring out the untested, untried and previously unthinkable. Reality has to be proven and doesn’t come assumed for these types.

I may have described this type at an extreme, but the point is they help us dream beyond today. They stretch us as an organization. I love when I have a few people like this on teams I lead.

And I’m not sure I could handle, or it would even be healthy to have a team full of those types. We’d likely never get anything done. (I know, because I’m usually in this camp myself.) It might even be fair to say that the size of the team will determine how many of these types you need. For a small team maybe you only need one.

We often celebrate these types. They had the bright new idea and everyone got excited about it! But there is another type creative I have learned I need on teams I lead. The first type creative partners best with another type of creative. They may not get the recognition they deserve, but find one and they are gold for the team.

Creative at implementing the vision.

Once these people get a clear understanding of where the team or leader is going they figure out how to make it happen. They turn dreams into reality.

You don’t have to hold their hands through the process either. In fact, they work best if you get out of their way and let them do their magic. They creatively navigate and avoid the natural barriers to every good idea. They are strategic implementers; methodically producing results.

The final outcome might not even look exactly like you first thought it would, but the organization is better because their work moved things forward.

I have learned by experience that I can’t be very successful as a leader without both these type creatives around me. (And in full disclosure I can serve the first role, but not as well the second.) I need people who can see beyond today, but I equally need people around me who get things done without having to be told every step of how to get there.

I anticipate the question of whether both these creative traits can be found in one person. I would say it’s certainly possible for people to demonstrate some aspects of both of these. It’s rare though, in my experience, that those best at forming vision are equally skilled at the implementation of it. But without question we need creativity in both.

5 Steps When Changes Needed Seem Overwhelming

By | Change, Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 7 Comments

The first couple years into church revitalization there were more opportunities than time. I was so excited about the potential we had to restore a historic, established church, but my calendar wouldn’t hold anymore and my mind was exploding.

One day I remember driving on the road which leads back to our hometown. I considered my schedule, the enormity of the challenge ahead, the dozens of emails awaiting a response and the people I was still having to say “no” to when they asked for my time – many who didn’t understand why the pastor couldn’t see them right away – and I turned to Cheryl and said, “Right now I wish I could just keep driving and this had been a nice little dream”. It wasn’t reality speaking or how I really felt. Plus, I knew to be obedient I was going to stay. It was emotions talking. I knew I was simply feeling overwhelmed.

In my new position, I have often felt similar emotions. Everyone is looking to me for answers, but some days I barely remember my name.

What do you do when you find yourself in that situation? When the changes are overwhelming – and you don’t know if you can do all expected of you – what do you do?

I hope you can learn from my experience. Here is what I tend to do in these moments.

5 steps when the changes needed seem overwhelming:

Step back.

Take a day. Take a week. Pause everything.

I realize it makes no sense to take a break when your schedule is packed, but stepping back gives you an opportunity to take a fresh look at the challenges ahead.

It may seem like you don’t have time to pause right now, but it may be you don’t have time not to do so. The time away will give you a better perspective, a clearer head and the rest will give you energy you need.

Get fit.

I used to tell our staff in a church plant (and in revitalization) that “you have to strive to be healthy to work here right now”. I think the same is true where I am now.

As much as it depended on me, I needed to be healthy spiritually, relationally, emotionally and physically. I needed to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a healthy relationship with my wife. I also needed extended time in God’s Word and prayer. This was even more than usual a time for intentionality in living a healthy lifestyle.

Renew the vision.

When change is overwhelming you have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. The why is the key. It’s what fueled you in the first place and what has the best potential to fuel you again.

I knew I was called to the church for a purpose. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out that purpose, but I know God doesn’t make mistakes.

If you are overwhelmed at something God called you to do, ask God to renew again the passion you had in the beginning before you were overwhelmed.

Chart a course one step at a time.

Take baby steps. It’s how big change is accomplished. One foot in front of the other. And realize you’ll fall down a few times as you’re learning to walk in this season.

The bigger the change the more methodical you must be. One day. One week. One month at a time.

Particularly in a new role, but also in seasons of overwhelming change, I have to ask people to be patient with me and with the process. I have to prioritize each day. I have to not feel bad about saying no. I have to get up every morning, create a list of things I could accomplish for the day, and realize tomorrow would be a new day.

Learning to live a healthy pace may be a leader’s greatest challenge and most needed strength.

Invite people on the journey.

Delegation becomes even more important during overwhelming times in leadership.

If your world is like mine this pretty much equates to every season of ministry. In church revitalization, I was reminded over and over again the value of a team. I had to learn who I could trust, but I also have to take risks on people. I couldn’t then – and can’t now – be successful without others.

I made slow progress the first couple years. I was amazing how God blessed us in spite of our speed to obey, but the process seemed to work. God overwhelmed us – even in our times of being overwhelmed! And here I am again in a new season of the same.

If you are overwhelmed at the changes occurring in your life right now, I suggest these 5 steps.

Ever been overwhelmed at the changes needed – what suggestions would you offer?

Making Changes in an Established Church

By | Change, Church, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | 5 Comments

In the established church change can be more difficult to make than in a church plant. I’ve done both and I’m speaking from experience. I’d almost say a common finding I’ve seen is the longer the church has been “established” the longer it takes to implement change.

In our previous church, which was a revitalization effort, we had a situation recently where a staff member felt the need to make a change in their area of ministry. It would save the church lots of money, was more in line with our vision, and would have a greater Kingdom impact. It sounded like a “no-brainer” to me.

It was the best decision.

So what was the problem?

It would have meant changing the way something had been done for years and something which was very popular.

At the time we were a 104 year old church. Every church acclimates towards a defined structure – an established way of doing things. They develop some traditions. Even if the church’s tradition is continual change (which this church’s tradition was not), every church (and every organization) forms a unique DNA of how things are done.

In our setting, it had developed into a highly structured environment of systems and procedures, which made change more difficult than in some churches. And this is not atypical of an older, established church.

The staff talked about what would have to be done in order for this change to be successful. We discussed who needed to be talk with first. We listed which committees need to weigh in to the decisions. We shared names of influencers in this area of ministry. All of this is part of being an established, highly structured church.

Then one of our staff members made a statement which hit me hard. And it is one I think we often confuse in making organizational changes, probably especially in achurch, which is often very slow to accept change.

He said, “I just hate having to be so political in making what we know is the best decision.”

I completely understood his concern, but it’s in that statement which exists the confusion we often have making change.

In that moment I said to him, “You have already made the right decision. And that is what we will do, but we have to be very strategic in the implementation process.”

(Side note – that is what it takes to make disciples, to grow a church, and to stop stagnation.)

And that’s the point of this post in making change in an established church.

Make the right decision.

Make the best decision you can possibly make. Use collaboration not control, bring people along don’t drag them, but do what is best for the church (or organization).

Don’t do the one that makes you popular, or even the one that causes the least conflict. Make the wisest, most promising decision. That’s good leadership.

But here’s the key:

Be strategic in the implementation.

Take your time. Establish trust. Build consensus. Talk to the right people. Even compromise on minor details if necessary. Accommodate special requests if possible and if it doesn’t affect the outcome. Be political if needed.

It’s part of the process, especially in a highly structured environment. (Does that describe any churches you know?)

Structured environments shouldn’t keep you from making the right decisions involving change. They just alter the implementation process.

Knowing this difference provides freedom to visionary pastors and leaders in highly structured environments. You can make the change. You can. You’ll just have to be smarter about how and when you make them.