Sometimes churches and organizations have a bad case of nearsightedness. They get so focused on the hear and now that they don’t see their greatest opportunities on the horizon. I recently heard Gary Hamel describe it like this: “Organizations miss the future because they over invest in what is at the expense of what could be.” Here are four signs that your church or organization is nearsighted (over investing in what is) and is aimed to miss the future:
1. Misguided Planning: I can’t tell you how many organizations (churches especially) think planning is nothing more than whipping out the calendar and filling it with activities. If all of your planning is focused on scheduling events, then you’re making a serious, nearsighted investment in “what is.” The future requires you to think and plan with “strategic flexibility.” In most cases, calendar planning could be renamed “carbon-copy planning” because it’s nothing more than a repeat of the previous year’s programs and events.
2. Unchallenged Assumptions: I find it interesting that research conducted by Matthew Olson, Derek van Bever, and Seth Verry pinpoints assumptions as the common culprit in stalled growth. In their article, “When Growth Stalls,” published in Harvard Business Review, they state that stalled growth is the result of management’s failure to bring the “underlying assumptions that drive company strategy into line with changes in the external environment.” When we fail to challenge our assumptions, we drive our churches into irrelevance at warp speed.
3. Budget Handcuffs: Many churches and organizations are wearing budget handcuffs because every dollar is allocated to existing programs, buildings, and salaries. I recently heard Willowcreek Community Church describe a line item in their budget called, “Winds of the Spirit.” Each year Willow allocates a certain amount of money that doesn’t have a program name attached to it. It’s simply money set aside to be used as the Holy Spirit directs the leadership. This allows leaders to be innovative without being handcuffed by the budget–it gives them resources to fund new, innovative thinking.
4. Idea-Repellant Cultures: If you’ve ever sat in a meeting where new ideas were treated like the Bubonic Plague, you know exactly what I mean by “idea-repellant cultures.” If your culture doesn’t have room for new ideas to breathe, you’re placing the kiss of death on your future.
Question: What are other signs that a church or organization is going to miss the future by over-investing in what is?