One of the things that we frequently discuss with a congregation’s leadership is the idea of now we have the data, but what do we do with it. It is here that the conversation turns to not just being leaders but having an evidence-based leadership – encouraging leaders to engage in a discernment process that integrates organizational intelligence into their leadership decision making. This is important for the leadership as they move forward. But, leaders are not the only ones in a congregation cannot work alone.
Organizational intelligence makes something else possible: an evidence-based membership. An evidence-based membership is one that has learned how to integrate organizational intelligence into their behaviors.
Let’s look at why this is so important through the following example:
A church takes the CAT and discovers that it is in the Recovery Quadrant. In addition, a lack of flexibility appears to be the primary factor inhibiting their vitality. In a politically-based membership, leaders try to win support for developing a more adaptable culture through their own relational cache. This is a top-down approach that inevitably invites polarization around the local configuration of relational networks.
In an evidence-based membership, the entire congregation confronts its own lack of flexibility, understands the trajectory of that organizational culture, and wrestles with the likely consequences of choosing to become more adaptable or remain settled. The focus of the discernment process shifts from how folks relate to a particular leader or leadership team to how they are going to deal with their own corporate and individual behavior.
The implications of this shift are profound and include:
- Specifying clearer, more concrete changes in behavior for members who are committed to developing a more vital congregation.
- Relieving pressure on young clergy who are thrust into systems with politically-based memberships that repeatedly cycle through conflicts that have little to do with him/her.
- Developing change processes that are also bottom-up rather than cascading all change down from the top.
Developing an evidence-based membership requires all the steps of developing an evidence-based leadership, beginning with helping them understand that their biggest problem is that they don’t know what they don’t know.
We are not suggesting that OI will or should eliminate the need for the political and relationally based components of leadership. These types of components will still exist but having an evidence-based membership frees leaders from spending all their time and energy answering WHY so that they can invest their leadership into WHAT’S NEXT.