You or your organization may be plateaued…
- If you’re trusting your programs to drive your growth.
If you’re like a lot of leaders, you’re getting a bit weary of words like vision or mission. After all, what are words when you actually need to produce something. High-minded talk is just that…talk.
Still, there’s no denying that a loss of vision in a church or an organization is the primary cause of plateau. People who forget why they do what they do usually stop doing it very well. In truth, vision can be on the wall, but if it’s not in our hearts, things will stagnate. The “why” turns out to be the key ingredient in re-energizing our efforts, and it’s amazing to see how easily its place of importance is given to something else.
Depending on your setting and the nature of your organization, the word “strategies” might feel more familiar. These are the mechanisms we use to bring about the realities our vision longs for. Programs are the steps we take to get where we long to go, but they are not the destination or the dream, and they make a lousy substitute when we slip them into the wrong place.
I see it all the time. Leaders who perceive that their group is plateaued start looking for that strategy piece, that magic bullet that will get the machine humming again. Conferences promise the answers, books chronicling the successes of others pile up in the corner as the search for “what we must do” takes over the leader’s focus.
Most of us have experienced the disappointment of “doing what they did and not getting what they got.” Someone else’s journey seldom lays over ours like a tight-fitting template. Elements like setting, resources, capacities, and opportunities rarely match the environ that brought someone else’s brilliant moves. Their program fit their moment and isn’t likely to fit ours.
AND…since programs are a means to fulfill vision, programs require vision to be fulfilling. Think about that with me. By design, programs are intended as the mechanism for achieving the goals of our dreams. But when there’s no clear dream, what will programs aim for and how will they be motivated. Programs without vision are just a lot of work. And new programs in the hands of folks with no vision have little if any prospect of effectiveness. Our search for that magic bullet comes up empty, not because the ideas are bad, but they fail because what they need to succeed is lacking.
The answer isn’t a “what,” it’s a “why.”
If lost vision, in the organization or in the pew, is the principal cause of plateau, then rediscovering it or finding a new one must be the way forward. Plateaued organizations typically don’t discover this until decline has brought us to our knees. Our struggle isn’t that we’re doing the wrong things, it’s that we aren’t doing them for the reason with which they were imagined.
Now vision is a struggle for many of us. After all, only about 20% of leaders are natural “vision leaders.” These friends look for answers in the vision drawer first, but most of us are looking somewhere else. As “values leaders,” we believe that doing what is right and always doing it right should bring results. Excellence in our processes and our programs becomes its own destination, and we struggle to acknowledge that our goals aren’t being met.
Fresh vision that rings clear in the hearts of our people is the catalyst to break from the bonds of the status quo. A new day starts in new hearts before it can be shaped into new ideas. “What should we do?” is never the first question to consider. Instead, discover your “why” and the “what” will be easier to find. Never forget that without strategy, a vision stands still, but without vision steps in any direction are unlikely to bring success