Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Innovation and Change Chapter 5

For a leader to bring about change he/she must think systemically. How do we get the “herd” or group to move generally in the direction you wish to go? Every church congregation is like a family system that operates on invisible, unspoken rules and assigns unspoken roles to all its members. To try to change those unwritten rules and roles is very difficult.

Changing a group means that it must stop thinking in its old paradigms and beliefs and have a new mindset. A paradigm is a worldview about practices, habits, language and relationships. The Sweeten family placed a very high value on independence, freedom financial risk taking and individualism. My wife placed a high value on family togetherness, structure, financial security and social niceties. My theme song was, “Don’t Fence Me In” but hers was “All We Need Is Love”. Want to guess what happened? Harmony and peace! (Oh, yes.)

I left the church in which I was reared because I attempted to bring changes to the traditions and structures.  I tried to set up small groups with college and career kids in their homes. I often attended such groups with my grandmother as a kid. We called them "Cottage Prayer Meetings". 

But at his new church, everything had to occur inside the church house. That was their tradition. I was ordered to stop my dangerous behavior. I was unable to understand why it was considered wrong. I failed to understand how difficult it is to alter old habits and traditions. 

As a Doctoral student I had some great training in small group dynamics and inductive Bible study. I loved it and was reminded of my youthful experiences with Grandmother Taylor. However, I unwisely assumed the Elders were open to new ideas. I had failed to prepare the soil for new seeds and it was quickly rejected.

My independent, know it all, Sweeten family paradigm was strongly operative. As a result I did not ask for permission before launching a new and innovative program. The kids loved it but that made the Elders mad because I was seen as rebelling and teaching their kids to do the same. So, my ideas were good and the customers liked it but the people in authorities were not consulted. My bad!

That was a huge mistake on my part. I failed to understand the system and it blew up on me. I  only respected my own ideas and the needs of the students. I concluded that it would be a success and I would be "carried on the shoulders of the Elders!" HA!  As a result, I received the "Left Foot of Fellowship". I had to leave the church

It was very painful. Have you ever attempted to create a new thing in an organization and been rebuffed? Write and let me know about it. 

You can support my ministry here and get some middlin books about some other of my failures.

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