You or your organization may be plateaued…
- If your people have different ideas of why you do what you do.
In the world of the local church, we have easily observed that the primary cause of plateau is “lost vision,” particularly in the pew. Likely results are similar when those within any organization lose track of the key motivating elements for what they do. As we have already seen in this series, programs or strategies require vision if they will maintain their effectiveness. When vision is lacking, the ongoing efforts to do what we do lose steam and quickly diminish in effectiveness. It’s vision that keeps us on the right path.
In an organization that has plateaued, such vision no longer rules the house. Either the “why” of our efforts has evaporated or it has given way to a dozen or more additional “whys” that folks manufacture out of their own assignments. Vision once clearly defined the “business we are in,” but now such clear focus eludes us.
What does this look like? I’ve seen a couple of settings where processes and the priorities of managerial types have taken the lead in what an organization does or even why it exists. Departments that were established to support the efforts of the frontlines now dictate their own frontlines to the organization and more resources are dedicated to managing what is rather than chasing what we originally began pursuing. These managers now dictate to the entities that actually produce our “business” and control priorities rather than providing the support they were originally designed for.
Perhaps a simple illustration will help. Years ago, I remember a church janitor coming into my office greatly frustrated and insisting that the church would need to discontinue one of our children’s ministries because they always left the building in such a mess. I made a remark about job security that he didn’t find amusing. His goal was a clean church and ministry that couldn’t contribute to that goal needed to be discontinued. While I could understand the frustration of having to clean the same things week after week, but you can likely see that his attitude revealed his need for a clearer understanding of the “why” of our efforts. We didn’t exist to make his job easier—we existed to impact the lives of those messy kids. His role was to aid those who were on the frontlines of our “why” in children’s ministries, not to rewrite such priorities in the favor of his own assignment.
Now, that may be too simple of an illustration, but plateau comes to any organization when its management processes assume the leadership chair. In any organization, management is the skeletal structure that helps hold everything in place. But, just like your bodies skeletal structure, management is best when it’s not easily seen. If you have a bone that’s showing, something probably isn’t healthy.
Still, many organizations reach a place of growth where they turn more of their decision-making to the support areas under the insistence of those who say we “have to do it this way.” While occasionally government regulation might make such prescriptions, more often these “have to” matters flow out of status quo preferences or efforts to make a manager’s job easier. Managers of support processes are critical folks in the organization and their value is unquestioned; however, a leader must also be aware of their preference for the status quo and for consistent approaches that they can streamline. Often a visionary organization that continues to be effective must be an organization that stretches and rewrites such comfortable preferences.
So, if you find that the answer to the “why” of what we do or the “where” that we long to be actually has multiple answers in the minds of your people, you are likely plateaued or heading that way in a hurry. Vision, clear vision, is what keeps an organization climbing and everyone in that organization must lay down their own agendas and preferences if we’re will stay on that track.