W. Edwards Deming’s 7th point is “Adopt and institute leadership.” What was he talking about and how does it translate to the business of the church?
In his book Out Of The Crisis, Deming says, “The job of management is not supervision, but leadership.” I’ve devoted lots of writing energy to the topic of good leadership. Check out my Fundamentals Of Leadership for more detail.
Specific to this one of Deming’s 14 Points, though, the key is to focus on the “system” not on individuals, especially as it relates to “blame.” When something goes wrong, a “manager or supervisor” (not a leader) will first focus on assessing blame. Who made this mistake? What leadership must understand and what must guide the leader’s every move, is a fundamental understanding that the organization is a “system.” In most cases, mistakes are the fault of the system, not the individual. A system is a “network of interdependent components” that work together, like it or not, to accomplish the aim of the organization.
For example, if the organization lacks creativity, it’s not the “fault” of the individual. Chances are that the management of the organization has created an environment that doesn’t allow true creativity to really happen. People have learned over time that certain suggestions are off limits to those in charge. While other suggestions are “safe” and therefore, are offered more frequently.
The bottom line is that Deming was trying to say that traditional “management” had to change, in favor of good “leadership” if the organization were to have any degree of success over the long-term.
How does this translate to the church? It’s pretty simple. Success in ministry depends on the performance of those whom God has placed on church staffs. “Success” as it pertains to the efforts of the church staff, boils down to reaching people for Christ, helping them to live according to his teachings. I can’t think of any “business” in the world that is more important!