Two Thoughts on Structure

I recently read (and summarized for Missio Nexus members) Shelley Trebesch’s new book, Made to Flourish. It’s a good book which is able to cover both the basics of organizational theory and give specific advice regarding a host of areas that organizations face. I want to point out to you two items which she discusses on structure.

If you were to look at your senior or strategic leadership team would you feel that it represents well every member of your organization? For example, do you have a leader who represents the financial area on your team? Or, if you are a church, perhaps one who is can speak on behalf of children’s ministries? If you do, Dr. Trebesch has some advice for you.

She writes that there should be no representative governance:

leadership teams should consist of men and women who have leadership qualities— creativity, leading, exhorting, strategizing, visioning— and who are absolutely committed to working together and serving and enabling others toward the fulfillment of the vision.” (Kindle Location 1915)

Take a few seconds to ponder your church or organization’s structure. Do you practice representative governance? Perhaps a re-think is order.

The second though that I want to point out regarding structure is her advice that strategy and operations should be separated

Operational functions are those regular tasks for which there is already an agreed upon system, such as procedures related to finances, human resources, facilities management, etc. I recommend placing these functions, including policy development, within an operations team rather than in a strategic leadership team. Operational concerns have a tendency to become urgent and time-consuming and then take precedence over strategic issues, such as creative envisioning and planning for the future, program evaluation and consideration of new opportunities. (Kindle Location 1941)

That’s a big and important idea. My observation is that most organizations or churches suffer from operational thinking. Institutionalization often happens when the methods of our mission become the mission.

Missio Nexus will be posting a summary of Dr. Trebesch’s book. On January 28th, we are hosting Dr. Trebesch in webinar format. Along with the book, these are resources you might consider taking in.


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