5 Inescapable Truths of Organizational Culture
by Pastor Andy Stanley
Adapted from one of the most telling and practical podcasts I have ever listened to, these truths promise to challenge your church or organization towards a greater awareness of their true identity. I return to these time and again…
Culture: That set of unwritten rules that determine how a people in an organization act, react, solve problems, treat people, live out expectations, approaches… the stuff that makes up the personality of the organization.
Culture incorporates Values: For example, excellence is a value. How we express (apply, live it out, etc) excellence creates our culture. Culture says, “This is how we do it here.”
Culture impacts how people carry out and focus on the vision/mission. It is difficult but EXTRAORDINARILY important to embrace cultural change.
Reality: Every church has a culture. What is ours? Describe it in 3 words… _________________ _________________ _________________
Truth 1: Leaders shape the culture whether they intend to or not.
Leaders either adapt to the present culture (become invisible) or create culture (change agent).
What is the driving force of our culture? God may be blessing… but what is He blessing and to what end? When you are sure about this… protect it and promote it at all cost!
Truth 2: Time in erodes awareness of.
If you aren’t intentional, the longer we are in leadership the less aware we are of our culture (how we appear to others).
These first two truths compound one another. You have to build into your culture ways to stay aware… Guest Ready! For example… new staff/guest evaluations and “Main Event” reviews.
Truth 3: Healthy cultures attract and keep healthy people.
Unhealthy people (i.e. consumers vs. producers; self-absorbed; negative; critical; tradition-bound; power-brokers; “needy” drama kings & queens, etc) are attracted to unhealthy cultures. Healthy people have a low tolerance of unhealthy cultures… and they just leave. If we really want to be able to minister to unhealthy, hurting people, we must constantly strive be healthy people in healthy environments.
1 – Unhealthy (Consumers) people are drama oriented & healthy (Producers) are “get-it-done” oriented.
2 – Unhealthy people are self-focused and healthy people are others-focused.
3 – Unhealthy organizations use sideways energy and are busy, busy, busy… with little productivity (and have worn out, uninspired leaders!). Healthy organizations are others-focused (making disciples) and use forward energy, resulting in high productivity (and energized, inspired leaders!).
Truth 4: The organizational culture impacts the long-term productivity of the organization.
Territorialism is replaced by collaboration. Red tape is replaced by simple systems that empower people. Feelings don’t get hurt and leaders don’t have to walk on “eggshells,” killing momentum and productivity again and again… and there is healthy growth!
Truth 5: Unhealthy cultures are slow to adapt to change!
The churches that grow the fastest and are the healthiest are those that are NOT focused on their church members. (NOTE: This is assuming you have created healthy discipleship environments and processes for your members). An unhealthy culture is generally focused inward, on itself and their back is to the marketplace. An unhealthy church resists change.
What are your thoughts on these axioms? What would you add to these organizational realities? Share some of your own applications of these truths…