Gary Hamel presented session #2 at the Leadership Summit. I was tuned in to listen right away because of the intro John Ortberg gave him — and I was not disappointed.
“The world is becoming more turbulent faster than most organizations are becoming resilient.” He said that our problem is inertia — living and doing ministry at a time when the pace of change is in hyperdrive.
He made some recommendations for those organizations and individuals who want to continue to be relevant and effective in this new world — a new world that Bill Hybels had already warned is here to stay in session 1. I’m going to share the first one tonight.
1. Overcome the temptation to take refuge in denial.
He suggested that the good news about this one is that denial follows a know pattern and can be identified — and if you can identify it, you can combat it more easily. That pattern looks something like this: DISMISS; RATIONALIZE; MITIGATE; CONFRONT. “Every organization is successful until it is not.”
One of the powerhouse statements that he made about this tendency for organizations to choose denial over reality is rather…well, rather convicting. “When an organization misses the future, it’s not because the future was unknowable. It’s because the future was unpalatable.”
Hamel then gave these three things leaders can do to avoid denial:
(a) Cultivate a culture on unflinching honesty
(b) Question your beliefs (not your creeds or practices)
(c) Listen to renegades
So, here I am chewing this over again — at a pace a bit slower than I could last week — Hamel is a fast talking (literally, not figuratively).
Where, in Wycliffe’s cultures, do we cultivate a culture of unflinching honesty? And where don’t we? Where do we, in actual fact, cultivate a culture of nodding heads and pasted on grins? Now, for all sorts of reasons I’m not going to fill this blog with names and departments and scenarios (“honesty” should sometimes be delivered privately). But I’m asking God to help me see that specifically where I am called to wield influence. Where I have responsibility.
And then I’m asking–beyond Wycliffe USA’s “Results to Achieve” (some organizations call them Ends or Goals) and our “Core Values”–what needs to be poked at more vigorously and called into question? Where have we ignored the signs of ineffectiveness (that is, where are we in denial about programs that are well loved or that are long-standing and therefore have been deemed “the way we do it”) and where are we telling ourselves that certain things are not our responsibility when they in fact could be changed?
And then, well, I’m asking myself who the renegades are to whom I need to be listening. And what distinguishes a renegade from a complainer or someone who just likes the sound of her own voice (or his…that is a trait that plagues both genders)?
Makes my head hurt. But the cause of Bible translation and the ultimate building of the Kingdom is too important to be crippled by leaders who are unwilling to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of change in order to avoid the aspirin bottle.