Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Does Culture Always Eat Strategy For Lunch?

It is widely reported that Peter Drucker said it first, but that he used the word breakfast. It seems that it is not in his writings but rather that he used it in his consulting. And in 2013, Curt Coffman came out with the book, co-written by Kathie Swenson, called Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch: The Secret of Extraordinary Results, Igniting the Passion within.

You may remember that Coffman co-wrote First Break All The Rules with Marcus Buckingham when he was still with the Gallup Organization. So that and the subtitle of the book should tell us that this will be a book that is firmly entrenched in strength-based thinking. And it is.

My question is this: Does culture always satisfy it's need for sustenance with the blood, sweat, and tears of leaders who are trying to lead a church or any organization for that matter? If you read the book, which I highly encourage, you will see that the answer to that question is a firm no. Instead, their thesis is that if we are going to lead change we need to carefully address culture. Their thinking is in concert with what I have practiced since 1992 in my ministry and consulting. To illustrate that, I am using a three-legged stool of Cultural Change as follows:
  • Develop a long-range Strategic Ministry Plan
Coffman and Sorenson call this macroculture, the responsibility of senior leadership people to define the mission, values, and strategies of an organization. When I facilitate this in my consulting I encourage churches to focus on just the next 1-3 years. This requires careful attention to addressing today's reality with all of its strengths and weaknesses. It also meets the test of Will Mancini's perspective which is that years 1-2 are context (where we live and need to influence change), and beyond that is content (nice to talk about, but if we don't start where we are, we will never get there).

  • Coach people daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and help them use their strengths
The big picture of macroculture is important, but people live in the here and now and most of them are not using their strengths to their maximum potential aligned with the need of our churches.  This is where the strategy gorging happens. Coffman and Sorenson call this microculture where human emotion resides. They go on to say that unless we create a bridgeculture to move people's emotions to connect their strengths with the purpose of the church, we in leadership will not see the church go where we want it to. This necessitates one on one sessions, SMART goal-setting and accountability, alignment of strengths and tasks, etc.

  • Annually refresh your direction and strategies
Coffman and Sorenson call this a cultural P&L. We need to step back and ask a couple of questions every year. What have we learned and what changes should we make in our strategy and plans? How well is our coaching going to align staff with our direction and strategies? All long-range Strategic Ministry Plans have a shelf life.  But they can guide us for many years as long as we refresh them every year. In addition, we need to have healthy assessments of how well we are doing in coaching, leadership development, and aligning staff.

Which of the three legs of this stool work best in your church or organization? What could you do to stop setting a banquet for the strategy eaters?

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