It’s all about scalability. How can an organization leverage its leadership? Its knowledge? There are only so many leadership people to go around, and good leaders are extremely difficult to find. So … building a world-class organization depends on the leader’s ability to develop good systems, processes, and methods and to make them known (easy to access, learn about, use, and change as needed) to the entire organization. Believe it or not, this is a foreign concept to many leaders!
Over the years, from what I’ve learned from people with whom I’ve led and having read lots of process improvement and teamwork books, I developed a model for developing organizational infrastructure, improving overall performance.
It’s called The Performance Cycle.
Here’s how it works …
It starts with working to understand stakeholder needs. The question is, “Who are the stakeholders, and what are their needs?” A stakeholder is the group of people with a stake (interest, benefit, concern, etc.) in the organization or endeavor. In the church, the obvious most important stakeholder is God. In addition to God, the community, attendees, volunteers, members, elders, and church staff are also stakeholders. Prayer, Bible study, demographic studies, surveys, team discussions, and even going door-to-door are all important tools in developing a thorough understanding of the needs of the stakeholders.
Once an understanding of stakeholder needs is achieved, it’s time to develop a strategy to meet those needs. What is the church going to do to meet the needs of the stakeholders? The strategy is made up of a mission, vision, core values, and a set of critical strategies the church will implement/accomplish to satisfy the needs of the stakeholders.
Systems, Processes, and Methods
Now that a strategy has been developed and documented, leadership must create and implement systems, processes, and methods that accomplish the strategy. Systems, processes, and methods are most often implemented via a “Management System” or some similar structured approach. The Management System is the backbone of the Performance Cycle. It is the vehicle for ensuring that systems, processes, and methods are consistent, compatible with one another, and known by everyone in the church … especially new people.
So, how is leadership going to know how well the church is meeting its stakeholder needs? The answer is simple … through measuring results. It’s critical that the leaders in the church create measures that provide “at a glance” visibility of results (performance). I read somewhere once that “if you are not measuring it, you probably are not managing it.” This has proven itself to be true for me many, many times over the years. A great method for measuring results is to establish Key Performance Measures (KPMs) that are updated and reviewed by everyone on the team on a regular basis. For example, a graph showing “average weekly attendance” over time would be a good KPM.
So, what happens when a measure shows that something isn’t working … isn’t meeting a stakeholder need? It’s pretty simple. Leaders must go into troubleshooting mode and reverse the arrows on the Performance Cycle. The first place to go is the Systems, Processes, and Methods box. Is there something that the church is doing (or not doing) that is causing a measure to go in the wrong direction? If the problem can’t be found in that box, the team must continue up to the Strategy box. Does the strategy truly address the stakeholder needs? What should be changed or tweaked? And, if that’s not it, does the church really understand its stakeholders and their needs?