Friday, June 5, 2009

How the Mighty Fall

Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

You pay your bills with cash. You can be profitable and bankrupt. Bill Lazier, Stanford Graduate School of Business

There are two basic versions of Stage 5 for organizations: 1) Those in leadership believe that capitulation offers a better overall outcome than continuing to fight; and 2) those in leadership continue to struggle, but they run out of options and the organization either dies outright or shrinks into utter irrelevance.

By the time an organization has moved has moved through Stages 1, 2, 3, and 4, those in leadership can become exhausted and dispirited, and eventually abandon hope. And when you abandon hope, you should begin preparing for the end.

Not all organizations deserve to last. Institutional self-perpetuation holds no legitimate place in the world of scarce resources; institutional mediocrity should be terminated, or transformed into excellence.

If you cannot marshal a compelling answer to the question, “What would be lost, and how would our community be worse off, if we ceased to exist?” then perhaps capitulation is the wise path. But if you have a clear and inspired purpose built upon solid core values, then the noble course may be to fight on, to reverse decline, and to try to rekindle greatness.

The point of the struggle is not just to survive, but to build an organization that makes such a distinctive impact on the world it touches, and does so with such superior performance, that it would leave a gaping hole – a hole that could not be easily filled by any other institution – if it ceased to exist.

Questions for ChurchWorld
John Moore, at Brand Autopsy, has a long-running series of posts about various companies we encounter every day. He posed a simple thought: Would we miss this company if it were gone? Here are his questions - answer them for your church:

  • Does my church provide such a unique ministry and experience that our community would be saddened if it didn’t exist?

  • Does my church treat its staff (paid and unpaid) so astonishingly well that those workers would not be able to find another place of ministry service to treat them as well?

  • Does my church forge such unfailing emotional connections with its members and attenders that they would fail to find another church that could forge just as strong an emotional bond?

I hope you have been challenged by this week's look at "How the Mighty Fall". Jim Collins continues his great work with this book; as with "Built to Last" and "Good to Great" there are tremendous lessons for the church in his research and conclusions. I encourage you to get a copy today and begin asking the tough questions raised in it.

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