Friday, March 19, 2010

Every Change Changes Everything...

...or how my 2010 NCAA brackets are a shambles.

Thought not huge basketball fans, my wife and I usually complete tournament brackets for the fun of it. We started the kick back in the early 80s when we lived in Louisville and the UofL - Kentucky rivalry was at its zenith.

So, after supper the other night our son joined in and we completed our brackets and posted them on the fridge.

After the first full day of the games, my brackets are broken. When a 14 seed beats a 3, and a 13 beats a 4, its not going to be a good day for your brackets. Which makes a good illustration for this closing post on systems thinking.

A central tenet of systems thinking is that the components of the system are all interrelated. Therefore, a change in one component will ripple through the entire system. The Georgetown loss wrecked my Elite 8, and the tournament's first games are only half over.

But that's just a game - what about the systems in your church? Jim Herrington, Mike Bonem, and James Furr, writing in "Leading Congregational Change" find that: "Many times leaders underestimate the complexity of congregational life. They want to have a quick and simple explanation for every issue, and intervene directly and decisively. In reality, any given issue is influenced by all of the actions, attitudes, decision, people, and artifacts that constitute the organization".

The full consequences of changes in your congregational are often hidden, and will not become evident till a later date. If you are leading your congregation, there will be change. Don't take the easy route and look for the obvious, visible effects. Probe deeper for broader and unintended impacts of a change. The result will be a more accurate and richer understanding of just what is really going on in your congregational system.

It also may help you in your next bracket selection.

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