Great Customer Service Empowers People to Think

By | Church, Innovation, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

Several years ago I had problems with my cable service. I made numerous phone calls and several trips to the company all in an attempt to correct the problem while politely obeying what I was told to do. I realized as a pastor my community reputation was on the line, so I tried to be extremely respectful in dealings with the public – even when I was frustrated. (Actually, I am reminded it’s Biblical to guard the tongue.)

But I was frustrated. This adventure went on for weeks with each phone call and visit ending with no solution to my problem. I was simply given another step I needed to take. One more phone call. One more visit. No solutions. 

And, yet, the most frustrating part of all – each unresolved phone call and visit ended the same way. The service person who had not yet solved my problem, and had actually prolonged it, asked me the same question.Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

It soon became obvious the company policy required them to ask this question at the conclusion of every service encounter. I get it. Give people a script and you perhaps help ensure uniform customer service.

As I reflected on each conversation, however, it was apparent the customer service people did not have freedom of what to say in their responses. They were trained what to say for certain situations, but couldn’t alter how they ended the conversation. How was I supposed to answer this standard closing question?

I hadn’t received any help. I had received absolutely NONE. 

In fact, it seem I was being delayed from getting help. How could they help me with “anything else” when they hadn’t help me with anything?

I realize without some scripting most employees wouldn’t have a clue what to say, but instead of making me feel better about my situation, it only incited a negative emotion. (Which I tried – successfully for the most part – to control.)

Then recently I was traveling on a major airline (Okay, it was American. This is a good story, so I’ll share the name.) My flight was delayed – again. And again. The “rules” of my flight would not have allowed me to change flights, yet the ticket agent saw my dilemma. In fact, she picked up on the fact that I had been on several delayed flights over the last couple days of travel. She offered to try and help. She went away for a few minutes and when she came back she had us on a new flight.

Honestly, I would have been pleased even had she not been able to shift my flight. At least she would have tried. And I don’t know if she had authority to do this or took initiative outside the rules, but it appeared at the time she “broke the rules” to accommodate a weary traveler. What great service!

These were both minor incidents, and honestly not a big deal in the story of my life, but it reminded me of an important organizational principle.

The best customer service a company can offer empowers employees the freedom to think for themselves.

They allow individuals to make the best decision – say the right things – at the moment for the setting they are in, realizing the best person to make a decision or determine what to say is the one having the conversation with the customer. In my cable situation, for example, it may have been better to say something such as, “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you this time. We will continue to work to resolve your problem.”

I would have at least felt I had been heard. Instead, I was recited a standard, pre-written line from a company handbook which really didn’t even apply to my situation.

There are organizational lessons here. 

If a leader wants his or her team to make the best decisions, train them in vision, mission, overall philosophy. Teach them good customer service skills and how to ask the right questions to determine the real problem. Help them understand how to gauge customer attitudes and emotions.

Then give them the right to think for themselves!

I have heard the motto of Nordstroms Department Store is to instruct employees to always make a decision which favors the customer before the company. They are never criticized for doing too much for a customer – they are more likely criticized for doing too little. Love it.

When a person has the authority to alter the script, they are more likely to provide a positive experience for the customer.

By the way, I believe this is an important principle in the church as well. Our goal should be to help volunteers understand the vision, basic teachings and philosophies of the church – then empower them think!

Do you want to know how my cable situation was resolved? Do you like the “end of the story”?

I finally got in touch with an employee from the company I knew personally. I asked him what he would try if it were his house. He gave me a suggestion to try for myself. We went with this and the trouble was solved – in a matter of a few minutes. (And, since it was a conversation among friends, he didn’t even ask me if he could help me with anything else.)

Leaders, does your team feel freedom to make the best decision at the time? Have you freed your people to think?

5 Questions to Ask When Facing Rejection as a Leader

By | Change, Church, Fear, Innovation, Leadership | 11 Comments

When I started an insurance business from scratch, I made hundreds of cold calls. Lots of people told me no. I’ll be honest, I hated this part of starting the business, but in time I got accustomed to rejection.

It still hurt sometimes, but I learned it was a natural part of successful selling. I couldn’t get to a yes (which paid the bills) without a lot of no’s.

Life is this way also. People aren’t always going to buy-in to what you’re selling or presenting. This is never more true than as a leader. No one is going to love every idea you present.

Leaders lead to somewhere they are hoping will be better than today. But this always involves change – and tension always accompanies change. Always.

And for the leader – part of their success may be their tenacity through rejection.

The fact is no one likes rejection.

Your proposal. Your product. Your presentation.

You love it. You believe in it. You want it to go forward. How could anyone reject what you’ve put your heart into?

It’s difficult not to make rejection personal, but it should be understood rejection isn’t always against you. Many times – maybe even most times – people reject because of their own level of comfort or acceptance of whatever they are rejecting.

When my ideas are being rejected I like to ask myself some questions.

Here are 5 questions to ask when facing rejection:

Is the rejection based on truth?

Many times rejection has no basis of truth. People may reject because of their own misunderstandings or their unwillingness to accept something new. If you are selling a product, they may not want what you have to sell. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have a poor product, it simply doesn’t match their needs.

And, then, there are rejections based on truth. The idea you are proposing is not good – or it has some flaws. You need to hear this rejection – discernment is a huge part of leadership. Be willing to listen and learn. If you will allow it, their rejection may actually make your idea better.

Is the rejection about you or your presentation?

If it is personal rejection then it’s a bigger issue, but if it’s rejection of something you only represent then it should be viewed differently – not taken personally. You’re simply a messenger. This goes for a product you sell or a Gospel you tell. If someone rejects the Gospel they aren’t rejecting you as much as they are God. Let Him deal with rejection.

If rejection is about you may need to ask yourself bigger questions, such as: Am I too pushy? Do I have a caring approach? Do others genuinely think I care for them? How can I communicate the importance of whatever I’m proposing, without devaluing them or their opinions?  (You may need to get coaching and insight from others if your ideas are constantly rejected because of your approach.)

Am I the wrong person to present the idea?

Sometimes rejection comes because you’re not an opinion which matters to them. This may sound harsh, but you weren’t called to minister to or lead everyone. A mentor once told me to find my affirmation among the people God sent me to minister to. Great advice. As a church planter, I would have many ideas (ideas dealing with methods, not theology) which were easily rejected by people in established churches. But, they weren’t to whom God had called me to minister. Why should I be bothered by their rejection?

I’ve learned I’m not always the one to propose something to an audience. I’ve had ideas, for example, which I believe could make our community better. I’ve learned those ideas are often more easily accepted when I can get some seasoned business or community leaders excited about them first. Their opinion often matters more than a pastor who has only been in town a few years. The same is true in the church. Some ideas come better from a volunteer than a paid staff member.

Is the rejection permanent?

Sometimes people say no – even many times – before they say yes. They have to warm up to the idea. They need to process it in a healthy way. I’ve found these people often become the best supporters, because they have wrestled through their objections first.

Persistence often makes the difference with great salespeople – and some of the best leaders. No one likes a pest or someone who can only see their ideas as valuable, but don’t be quick to dismiss an opportunity after initial rejection. It may prove to be the best idea ever if you wait. Timing is often everything.

Is the rejection based on a part or a whole?

This can be huge. Did the rejection have more to do with the overall idea or just some aspect of the idea? This is where you have to learn to ask good questions, know your audience, and be willing to compromise on minor issues and collaborate on major issues. This is where good leadership is necessary. You may have to educate people on what they don’t understand. You may have to allow input to make the idea stronger and more acceptable. If it doesn’t impact your overall goal or mission, be willing to listen, learn and make the final result even better.

Rejection doesn’t have to mean the end. Instead, it could only be an obstacle and be used to improve things in the end. The best destinations are met with many roadblocks. Standing firm through the rejections are a part of good leadership.

3 Ways to Fuel Momentum

By | Church, Innovation, Leadership | 3 Comments

I am frequently asked how to spur momentum. Every leader wants it, yet it often seems hard to attain – and once we experience momentum we always want more.

I have been blessed to be part of some tremendous seasons of momentum in churches where I served as pastor or planter. We are beginning to experience some momentum again with Leadership Network.

I am always quick to point out that God is ultimately in control of His Kingdom – whether the church or a Christian nonprofit. I get no credit and don’t want it.

But I have also never been afraid to point to what God has done through His people. In my experience, He often allows people to lead. I believe He has gifted each of us with uniqueness and imagination for a reason. I believe the parable of the talents is an example of the way God wants us, especially as Kingdom leaders, to make wise decisions with what He has given us. (That even sounds Biblical. 1 Corinthians 12:27)

So how do we stir momentum? How does the body, functioning together, spur momentum?

In my observation, there are 3 basic ways momentum is usually encouraged.

Here are 3 ways momentum is fueled:

Innovation – I’m using this term to highlight improving what is currently existing. This could also be called development. When you take what you have and attempt to make it even bigger or better people notice and it makes room for more excitement and more enthusiasm.

Something new often creates more momentum.

Creativity – Dreaming. Brainstorming. Ideas. Intentional randomness. This part of stirring momentum can be temporary or even one time activities.

The fact is we can’t be more creative than the Creator so don’t be afraid to “think outside the box”. Creating something unusual or something that has never been tried before gives momentum an explosive potential.

Change – Change means altering something that currently exists. It creates immediate energy. Momentum. Every time. Change the classes you offer. Change the times of your services. Change the people in leadership.

Change spurs momentum.

Those are the 3 fuels of momentum I’ve observed.

It should be noted that not all momentum is positive momentum. There is such a thing as negative momentum and it can often grow stronger and faster than the positive kind. Sometimes you can get momentum without doing anything. It could be through inactivity, disregard, or tragedy. So beware of negative momentum.

Be careful, smart and consistent with trying to spur positive momentum. And, in my experience, you can often reverse negative momentum with more positive momentum. Which, by the way, requires more innovation, creativity or change.

I’m not pretending that’s easy. In fact it’s hard. That’s why it requires leadership. But figuring out what causes momentum isn’t difficult either.

Of course, with any principle, knowing and doing are two different issues. But, at least now you know what I have observed, by experience, about fueling momentum.

And I’m confident someone has better observations than me.

So share!

How I Battled Claustrophobia (and other life applications)

By | Encouragement, Innovation, Leadership, Life Plan | 5 Comments

Cheryl and I were once on a long airplane flight. It wasn’t the longest flight we had been on by far, but it seemed longer than it was. We managed to get the last seat in the back corner of the plane. There was no window, no reclining to the seat and limited leg room. I realize that’s typical these days for most seats, but this was the worst seat I ever had on an airplane and I’ve flown a bunch.

To make matters worse, the guy in front of me reclined his full 3 inches and wouldn’t sit still the entire flight.

I already knew I was semi claustrophobic, but this flight confirmed it. I thought I was going to die. I allowed myself to be psyched into a frizzy of miserableness. Cheryl tried to calm me, but I was restless.

I know it sounds extreme, and like I am a big baby, but it became that big of a deal for me at the time. I had to do something. (Even funnier was that I read a book about a WWII POW survivor on this trip. Talk about surviving – I am a sissy!)

So, how did I survive?

And why this post?

Because the way I turned an uncomfortable situation into a manageable situation was a lesson for me for other life situations. The kind that last longer than an airplane flight.

Here’s what I did:

Thought about destination. We were getting out of town. We were going somewhere exciting. It was a vacation. Better times were ahead.

Reminded myself this was temporary. I knew this would pass. It wasn’t my permanent home or situation.

Redirected my thoughts to something that I enjoyed thinking about. (Such as writing a blog post.) And planning a new strategy. And studying my Bible.

It made the trip more pleasant and helped me arrive in a better mood. Cheryl was happy about that.

But, as I said, it helped me process how I respond in other claustrophobic times of life.

When you feel stuck or like the walls are closing in around you – when you are miserable in your current circumstances –

Here’s what you do:

Look at the Destination – Think about where you’re going – maybe in your work or in life. Likely better days are ahead. If you’re a believer – a follower of Christ – you are living with some promises. But if we head ourselves in the right direction, and make wise and strategic decisions, things will likely improve with time.

(If you’re not on the right path – redirect is your step here.)

Remember the Temporary – Remember life has ups and downs. These days shall pass. good and bad seasons are a part of life.

And, as Paul said, even if troubles last a lifetime, these “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs” anything of this world.

Change your thoughts – In many ways we are what we think about – especially in our emotions. Many times what we think about determines how we feel.

Again, Paul said, “whatever is pure, whatever is noble, if anything is excellent or praise worthy – think about such things”. Maybe we need to think better thoughts.

Often when we have a proper perspective we can sit back, relax and better enjoy the flight.

Just for fun, what’s the most miserable flight you’ve ever been on and what made it so?

The Quickest Way to Spur Organizational Change

By | Change, Church, Innovation, Leadership, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Do you want to know the fastest way to encourage change?

I have practiced this one for years and it almost always triggers change. It has worked in business, government and church. It worked in church planting and in church revitalization.

It is cost effective too.

The quickest way to spur organizational change:

Expose leaders to new ideas.

In a team environment, where people are empowered to lead, new ideas produce change.

Often faster than any other way.

That’s why I encourage attending conferences when possible. I pass along blogs, podcasts and articles I read. We have often read books together as a staff.

Keep in mind, this works as long as people are allowed to dream – and the leader doesn’t have to control everything. When people are introduced to new ideas it produces energy and momentum. As team members attempt something new, change happens. Often quickly.

It doesn’t have to be monumental change to create excitement. Tweaks, slight improvements and small adjustments can create an atmosphere and an appetite for change on a team.

And the best part – there is always less resistance to major change when change is a part of the culture.

One way we practiced this was in the most recent church where I served as pastor. We often used training budget to take our entire ministerial staff and spouses to another city and church several times larger than our church. They had usually figured out some things we were still learning. We toured the church and then each staff member met with their counterpart staff member at the other church. We would ask questions and explore their story. It was always insightful.

I never knew how it would work or what ideas we would uncover, but I was sure of one thing. It would expose us to some new ideas. We would come home with some immediate changes to consider. Plus our team bonded and there was a new energy and momentum developed.

And that’s a win for me.

Do you want to encourage to encourage change quickly? Expose your team to some new ideas.

7 Ways to Get a Boss to Notice You

By | Call to Ministry, Church, Innovation, Leadership | 15 Comments

I once was asked a genuine question by a young man entering a new job as an entry-level leader. He was ambitious and ready to lead, but his boss didn’t seem to really notice him or his abilities.

His question:

How do I get my boss’s attention?

(First, please know I am not a fan of the word boss. I never enjoy being called that on a team.)

But I thought the question was premature. This young man had been on the job less than a month. I felt his question could come in time, but not one month into a new role. He had so much to learn first. He obviously had attention to get hired. He was referred to me by a friend for advice, though so I wanted to help, but also felt the freedom to be candid with him. I mostly wanted to help him as he began his career.

Not only did I think his question was premature, but I felt he was probably also asking the wrong question. He wanted to do well in his career, wanted to hit the ground running right out of college, but he didn’t feel he had been able yet to get the boss’s full attention. (I use the word boss because that was his word.) I’m not sure at that point in a new job “getting attention” should have been his greatest concern.

Maybe there were other questions of greater value to him long-term that he could have been asking me. Things like, “What are some of the best ways for me to learn this organization?” “What should I try to accomplish in the first 90 days?” “How can I add genuine value as the new person on a team?”

Those seem like better questions.

I did, however, value the fact he was asking a question of any kind. It showed intentionality on his part, which I always appreciate.

I also realize what some of my peers who are my age may be thinking at this point about a young man who comes into a new job and immediately wants attention. They might read what I’ve written so far and think words like arrogance, impatience, or the audacity. And I get that too. But, in candor, I didn’t sense those were this young man’s motivations for the question. I think he really did want to do his best work and prove he was worthy of the hire.

It is true some from younger generations expect to move ahead faster than my generation did. They don’t necessarily understand the term or want to “pay their dues”. They want a seat at the table of leadership today. It is a cultural shift in the workplace. I get that too. I’m not even opposed to it. One of my favorite things to do is to invest in younger leaders and part of that is by giving them a seat at the table. That is how they will best learn.

Plus, in fairness to this guy’s “boss”, it would be hard to judge the system of advancement in such a short time. He may have paid attention to this young leader in time if he did nothing I advised him to do. None of us knew that for sure.

But, again, I appreciated the fact that this young leader wanted to make a difference enough to be noticed, so here was my advice.

If you want your boss to notice you:

Be respectful  – The leader needs to know you recognize and appreciate the position he or she holds. That’s important whether or not you agree with the leader. If he or she doesn’t feel respected you are unlikely to gain any attention.

Be consistent – Do your best work consistency over time. That almost always leads to respect.

Be resourceful – Especially today and in this economy, leaders are having to find ways to do more with less. Help that happen and you are practically guaranteed a seat at the table.

(I love 1 Kings 11:28. “Now the man Jeroboam was capable, and Solomon noticed the young man because he was getting things done.” Of course, there is so much more to that story, but the point is what gained Solomon’s attention – getting things done.)

Be responsive – Responsiveness is rare these days. Answer emails promptly. Be on time. Follow through on commitments.

Be attentive – Things change fast. If you are aware of the times and can help the organization move forward quicker you become a valuable commodity on the team.

Be resilient – Do you wear your feelings on your sleeves? Are you always questioning another person’s motives? Would you be considered paranoid? Are you afraid of taking a risk? Those are not welcoming attitudes that invite you a position to the table.

Be exceptional – Normal is – well – normal. Exceptional is rare. If you want to truly set yourself apart – if you want to be noticed and advance in leadership – you have to rise above normal. The key is to give your best to a day’s work everyday. Have a good attitude about your work and the team with whom you serve. Serve and love others and the organization with everything you have to give.

Do you catch the “subtleties” in this post?

My best advice to gaining the attention of your boss:

Do great work

And when you do that consistently over time you’ll get lots of attention.

Anything you would add?

10 Inexpensive Ways to Develop People on Your Team

By | Innovation, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | 15 Comments

When budgets are stretched, development often is pushed to the back burner or cut altogether from the budget. This is dangerous for a team that wishes to remain healthy and continue growing. If a team is not learning and improving, it will soon struggle to maintain any level of success. It’s important to find ways to develop even during times with stressed budgets.

Here are 10 inexpensive, or less expensive, ways to offer development to a team:

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5 Areas I Micromanaged in Church Revitalization

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | 6 Comments

When I was in church revitalization, at least once a week a pastor contacted me about what we were doing. I always told them I was still learning, but we saw God do some pretty amazing things in our church. In all measurable areas we experienced explosive growth in an over 100 year old, extremely established church. Through this blog I’ve tried to share some of the things I learned.

The primary question I received was where I spent my time. What was I doing – what did I do – to lead the church to grow again?

And I understand the question. It’s the question I continually ask other church leaders also.

One of the things I learned is there are some things I had to micromanage – some things of which I needed to retain control.

It’s important to know I’m not a micro-management leader. It goes against everything I stand for in leadership and even how I’m wired personally. I have written extensively about the need for delegation in leadership. I’m not good with details. I have a problem focusing on small issues, so I really do control very little which happens on our team. Plus, I love the team process. I don’t like the word “I” as much as the word “we”. (Even though I’ll use “I” more than “we in this post.)

In church revitalization, I micromanaged a few things a bit closer than I normally would – especially in the first couple of years. We came with an expectation we were leading a church to survive it’s second hundred years. This is an not easy process. It’s not easy for a church to continue to thrive this long. How many vibrant 100 plus year old churches do you know? And, I knew this – not as well as I do now – before I entered this pastoral position.

I began with a keen sense some things were vital to our success long-term. I viewed it as one of my roles to see the bigger picture and make sure all of us were going in the same direction. Therefore, I micromanaged some things. I did not necessarily make the decisions, but I made sure I had a strong voice in the process. (Actually, some of these were just as true in my years of church planting.)

Here are 5 things I micromanaged in church revitalization:

Who we added to our team.

This included even people I didn’t directly supervise. Now, I didn’t always make the final call — I didn’t do all the interviewing — but I did part of recruiting, part of discerning and part of the decision process. And I retained the right to approve or veto all the final decisions. This included nearly every position in with near 100 people on payroll.

Here’s the deal. We were shaping a culture. It was to be one of change and adaptability. It was one where everyone takes ownership. It was one where people enjoy their work and pull together as a team. This required a certain “fit” and staff culture. Who we added to the team would say a lot about who we would be as a staff and how well we would work together. I wanted to make sure everyone we added was on the same page with where we were trying to go.

(I continued to speak into this even into the last year I was there. We hired a key administrative person. I didn’t interview everyone nor recruit them, but I did weigh in on the type person we were seeking and signed off on the final decision.)

How we cast vision.

We knew having a common voice as a staff was vitally important — especially in the earlier days of change — but really always. We purposely developed some common language which would serve as rallying points for the church in the years to come. We had a few key areas of focus. We said the same things repeatedly. I didn’t come up with those exclusively — we developed them as a team, but I led the charge and micromanaged to keep us on track until it began to stick as our common vision.

Where we placed our greatest energies.

Many times in revitalization efforts we can get distracted chasing after too many ideas. We were trying to grow again and often churches (and other organizations) will frantically move from one bad idea to another trying to find one that works. We needed some common goals and ideas and a limited focus. Again, this was especially true in the early days until we could gain trust with the people and gain buy-in for larger changes.

I knew one of my roles would be to say no to some new initiatives. We had to slow the pace of change in other areas, while fueling pace in other areas. We actually stopped some very large – some would say successful – events, because they took a lot of energy, but didn’t fulfill our key mission. (Our mission, by the way, is the advance of the Gospel.)

Organizational structure.

As an established church, we had over 100 years of structure. Bureaucracy and process we knew well. We had rules for everything. Our employees were subjected to counter productive paperwork, for one example, which wasted time and zapped energy for momentum. (We even had a policy on folded chairs. True story.)

Over time, churches don’t stop to analyze what’s working and what isn’t. Typically we just add new layers of structure. Some of our structure, quite frankly, had become extremely burdensome and stood in the way of making progress. Some things we had on paper as “rules” we didn’t even follow. (I don’t like this either.) Some rules we follow were simply archaic. They didn’t work or weren’t necessary. They slowed us down filling out paperwork no one was even going to read. We had duplicated processes and systems.

I knew in the early days I would be a fresh set of eyes on our structure and would need to micromanage quickly before I “settled in” and became just another participant in the established process. (After we do something long enough it becomes habit and we can’t even see it needs to be changed.)

New expenditures.

As with most churches in need of revitalization, our finances had been struggling for several years. Thankfully, we had good people in charge of our finances and they had held the church together through very difficult times. But I knew to be successful long-term we had to be in the best financial condition possible. And I knew, as the senior staff leader, I had to be the primary voice for this on a day-to-day basis. Even though changes were needed which would be expensive, we were extremely careful to make sure our basic financial condition was stabilized first. I don’t make economic decisions alone — and shouldn’t — but I was the key driver in the process. We had done remarkably well financially (again thanks to tremendous finance committee and staff efforts). We reversed our decline, built a healthy reserve, and began doing some of the changes we needed to grow again.

I didn’t worry about a lot of things in church revitalization. Some may have thought they were important items I should have been involved in deciding. What color carpets or wall coverings didn’t excite me very much though. I may have given a few song suggestions, but I was not too involved in the process of planning our worship (although I did micromanage who led the process). Apart from my normal responsibilities of preaching and being a pastor, I concerned myself with things I felt mattered most and needed to receive my best energies.

Praise God, He greatly blessed the micromanagement!

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?