inSight©: Helping Regional Associations Help

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In our work with Regional Associations and congregations, we have found the following things to be true:

  1. A transformational Regional Association is one that has focused on creating vital, growing congregations and is discovering effective ways of achieving that vision.
  2. Using Organization Intelligence (OI) is an important step towards determining an organization’s health and next steps needed. But OI is also only as good as its application.  Without applying OI systematically to move congregations towards becoming vital reflections of our good works in Christ, OI just becomes data.

As we head into Autumn, Holy Cow! Consulting will begin rolling out some new ways to help Regional Associations help congregations.  For the systemic application of OI, by the end of September we will finish completely rolling out our inSight webpages.  inSight is a system of information that empowers Regional Associations to serve a transformational role in their congregations.  It is designed especially for those Regional Associations whose primary goal is to develop healthy, vital congregations.

use this one.pngFor each Regional Association, with five or more congregations that have taken the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT), we will create a private webpage.  On that page, the leadership of the Regional Association will find dashboards of all of their congregations.  These dashboards will show the energy-satisfaction levels of the congregations, the education and motivation, conflict management and levels of trust in leadership, the cultures of the congregations, spiritual vitality, hospitality and worship scores combined with the level of involvement that is meaningful to congregations. The webpage will also include all of Vital Signs (CAT results) for each congregation so everything is in one place and easily accessible.

How Does this Help? 

Regional Associations have a lot of different tasks and roles to fill as they serve their congregations.  Our goal with inSight is to help get that job done in less time with more confidence.

inSight tells a story beyond each individual congregation.  inSight helps Regional Association leaders begin to see what support congregations might need overall.  From tconflct-for-bloghe chart on the right, you can see that this Regional Association has several congregations that could use some help with becoming more flexible. Because we know that organizational flexibility is vital, this Regional Association might want to look at creating some resources that help their congregations become and remain nimble – open to change so they can meet the needs of who they want to reach in the community and in their membership.

inSight helps Regional Leadership know what each congregation is focused on. Walking into a congregation, a Regional Association leader can have that particular congregation’s data in hand. This means they can immediately know what folks in the congregation are focused on for energy and satisfaction.  For example, you would work with a clergy-focused congregation a bit differently than a ministry-focused congregation.  The Leader will also know what the priorities are for that congregation and their theological diversity.  So as they preach, teach, or meet with folks they can keep all of that in mind to ensure what they are saying resonates with the congregation.

inSight helps Regional Leadership make decisions.  One of the hardest things the Regional Association is tasked with is triage.  Answering the questions of what needs immediate attention, what can be dealt with later and what cannot be fixed for now is a tough job.  inSight helps Regional Association have a clear way to measure what is happening in a congregation without solely relying on fiscal reports, attendance trends, and anecdotes.  With an accurate and holistic way to measure the health of a congregation, the Regional Association can begin answering those tough questions of where attention needs to be paid and what the potential of success will be.  

In October, once inSight is in place, we will begin offering Pastor Start-up packages which will help the Pastor in their work as they embark on a journey with a new congregation.  This will complete our three phase transition process, which also includes a Transition Plan and Vital Leader Profile.

We look forward to continuing on this path together.  If there are other ways we can help please let us know.

Emily Swanson
President of Holy Cow! Consulting
emily@holycowconsulting.com

 

 

 

Now Available: State of the Evangelical Church in America

image001The State of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

An Organizational Intelligence Perspective

J. Russell Crabtree

$12.95 US  ·  Paperback

ISBN 9780997768701

6 x 9 x 0.4  ·  100 pages, MAGI Press

PURCHASE HERE

 

 

 

In his new book, The State of the ELCA, J. Russell Crabtree examines the perspectives, experiences, and aspirations of a large cross section of members in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In his reflection on the responses of nearly 60,000 members to a variety of questions, he addresses a number of topics including:

• How does the experience of Lutherans compare with other mainline denominations?

• Which groups feel most positive and which groups feel less positive about their experience in the Lutheran church?

• What are some of the factors that make the difference between Lutheran churches that are experiencing vitality and those that are struggling?

• How are Lutherans experiencing life in their congregations over their lifecycle ranging from the teenage years through child bearing, child rearing, empty nest, and retirement?

• As they think about the future, what are the aspirations of Lutherans for their churches and how do these vary from Boomlets up through Boomers and the GI Generation?

• What are the motivating factors for giving among Lutherans and how do these differ from one congregation to another?

Get ready for a few surprises as you read the answers to these questions, but also discover Lutheran perspectives on Scripture, spiritual practices, pastoral transitions, and Synods.

The State of the ELCA ends on a positive note by summarizing interviews with the pastors of four transformational Lutheran churches, one large, one small, one more conservative, and one more progressive.

 …a must-read for congregational leaders, synod staffs, and synod councils.

Bishop Wayne N. Miller

 

10429477_1539479202980070_182352615483068509_nAs a former pastor, Russ Crabtree served in small, midsize, and large churches in New York and Ohio. In that role, he was active in his regional association and worked in the areas of strategic planning, energy conservation, human sexuality, church consultation, presbytery staffing, and administrative oversight. He has served as a consultant to every level of the church in areas such as succession planning, strategic planning, and organizational assessment. He has developed congregational and regional association assessment tools and has maintained a substantial database on church characteristics and congregations of all sizes and contexts.

 

Publication Date:  August 2016

Author Events Coordinator:  Shawn Kelly, shawnkelly.rn@gmail.com, 614.216.5537

Bulk Orders:  russ@crowsfeetconsulting.com, 614.208.4090

 

The Clergy-Focused Congregation

One of the things that we say about organizations is that focus trumps picture.  That is simply another way of saying that when people reflect on how they feel about an organization, they don’t look at the entire picture of what an organization does.  Instead, they focus on a few things that are important to them.  The few things they focus on are more decisive than everything else in the picture in determining how they feel about that organization overall.

We call those important areas where members focus drivers of satisfaction.

One of the patterns we observe in some faith communities is that members focus on the clergy person when they reflect on how they feel about the church overall.  We call these systems “clergy-focused.”  Generally, like the example below,  a system is clergy-focused when three or more of the top five drivers on a Vital Signs report concern the work of the clergy person…or two on the clergy person and one on worship.drivers for clergy focused.png

Sometimes, people confuse clergy-focused with clergy-driven.  When we say that a church is clergy-focused, it does not mean that the pastor is running everything.  A church can be clergy-focused where the pastor is leaving every decision to the lay people.

In a clergy-focused church, how people feel about the pastor is more important in their overall view of the church than other parts of the picture like Christian formation, hospitality, music, youth ministry, or how decisions are made.  In fact, members in a clergy focused church will often indicate dissatisfaction with areas of the church that arguably have nothing to do with the pastor.

To say that a church is clergy-focused tells you nothing about the strength or weakness of the church.  Some clergy-focused churches are transformational.  Other clergy-focused churches need reinvention.

In a clergy-focused church that is in need of reinvention, making changes in any area will have little impact on the how satisfied people are with the church unless the changes impact how they feel about the relationship with the pastor.  For these churches praiseworthy efforts like strategic planning will have little benefit to the church for the same reason.  I do not recommend strategic planning for a clergy-focused reinvention church.

Clergy-focused systems have some advantages.

First, positive changes can happen quickly in a clergy-focused system.  When a new pastor is brought on board who “clicks” with the congregation the mood of the congregation can change almost instantly.

Second, some pastors function well in a clergy-focused system.  They tend to be persons who enjoy center stage, have a bounded-ego, and who can parlay good will and resources into ministry and mission.

Third, clergy-focused systems can grow to become quite large since members may have lower expectations of their interactions with the congregation because the benefits of membership accrue to their relationship with the clergy…even if it is a distant, virtual relationship.

Clergy-focused systems have their downside as well.

First, clergy-focused systems tend to be anxious systems because success or failure hangs on one person.  The pressure of clergy-focused systems can lead to pastors who burnout or flameout.

Second, the conflicts in clergy-focused systems tend to get focused on the clergy person even if they have nothing to do with him or her.

Third, there are few remedies for clergy-focused systems that get themselves into trouble.  Once things goes south, it is difficult for the pastor-people relationship to be fixed.  When the church is clergy-focused and one or more critical success factors on the clergy person are above 30, steps should generally be taken to help the pastor move on. This is especially the case in clergy-focused, Hearth and Home church cultures.

Wherever a congregation finds itself, it is important  to know what the congregation is focused on so as we move forward we are mindful of what might be trumping the bigger picture.   It is also important to remember even if we can’t see the bigger picture, there is always someone who can. Unknown

 

Why Do We Talk about Congregational Culture?

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. –  Isaiah 64:8

“Organizational Culture” has become a very common phrase in business, non-profits and faith-based organizations. An organization’s culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of the organizational members. It is a product of many factors: organizational history, unwritten but understood rules, treatment of leadership, traditions, transparency of decision-making and how new ideas come to manifest themselves. Over the last ten years, many of the great organizational pundits have gone back and forth on whether organizational culture trumps strategy or if a good strategy wins the day. After a time, this type of argument becomes more about semantics than actual useful application. The real question is how does organizational culture affect strategic thinking, leadership and growth for organizations? The pundits can debate all day, the rest of us have work to do.

In congregations, the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT)™ examines culture using a congregation’s collective values and beliefs regarding the world and the wider community through the lens of their Christianity. This is their theology. The CAT also looks at how committed the congregation members are in moving towards their collective objectives. This is their flexibility or adaptability.

For a congregation’s strategic movement and priority-set to be embraced, it must have alignment with the congregation’s culture. This is true in terms of a congregation’s theology – a conservative congregation that believes that conversion is the first step to a better society needs to have ministry that fits with that belief set. Likewise, in order to avoid becoming stagnant, a congregation with limited flexibility will have to be mindful in next steps so that they are able to embrace change and create an environment that is open to new ideas.

It is important to note, that while we have found time and time again that theology does not hinder strategic movement, lack of flexibility can. With the rare exception (14 congregations out of 2,000 to be exact), the more settled the congregation becomes the harder it is for them to be a vital organization. This indicates that the more settled the congregation, the more imperative it becomes that next steps focus on flexibility so that the strategy can be rooted in culture, but, importantly, that the culture allows forward movement.

In order to help congregations strategically plan their next steps, we have to first understand their culture and how this will help, hinder, and propel growth of various kinds.  The often quoted phrase is “culture eats strategy for lunch.” Let’s get them at the table together. Because as we come to understand how culture affects a congregation’s next steps, we can truly begin to lead in way that is compassionate, mindful and effective.

– Emily Swanson, President

Holy Cow! Consulting

Using our Database as a part of our Why

I have been speaking with a lot of regional associations lately about our “why” at Holy Cow! Consulting.  For us, the reason we do what we do is very clear.  Our mission, or why, is to help regional associations and congregations, through an evidence-based discernment process, become vital, healthy organizations that better serve the Kingdom of God.

We have been collecting data from congregations and regional associations for over 25 years.   After working with close to 3,000 congregations and receiving 100s of thousands of individual responses, it is arguable that we have the largest database of congregations in the country.  But having the biggest database is not our “Why.”   It only becomes a part of our “Why” if we use it to help our regional associations and congregations become vital, healthy organizations.

This Fall we will be sharing more of what we have learned from our database in the beginning of a series of books.  This first book is entitled “The State of the ELCA: An Organizational Intelligence Perspective.” Russ Crabtree has used the Holy Cow! Consulting database with over 60,000 responses from Evangelical Lutheran Church members around the country to write this book about the current state of the ELCA church.  This book will look at the following:

  • Vitality of ELCA Churches
  • Beliefs and Spiritual Practice of ELCA Members
  • Aspirations of Congregations
  • Pastoral Transitions
  • Financial Giving
  • Synods

Here is what Synod and church leaders are saying about the book:

When ELCA pastors are ordained, one of the promises we make in our ordination vows is to not offer illusory hope.  Russ Crabtree helps us live out that vow in this small book.  It provides a clear evidence-based approach to assessing where we are as a church.  In New England, we now make use of the C.A.T (Congregational Assessment Tool) as the primary instrument for helping our congregation live in the present, and plan with honesty for the future.  – Bishop James Hazelwood, New England Synod

 Once again, Russell Crabtree has challenged us with a call to base our planning and practice on evidence rather than pre-conceptions or anecdotal biases.  This book is a must-read for congregational leaders, synod staffs, and synod councils.  For those who have ears to hear it will guide us into more effective and faithful leadership.”  – Bishop Wayne N. Miller, Metropolitan Chicago Synod

Author and motivational speaker Denis Waitley says, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist or to accept the responsibility of changing them”.  For the pastor, congregation, and church leaders, to be agents of change, here is an evidence-based book that provides insights for meaningful ministry in the local church.  From my experience in leading a transformational congregation, I found myself saying as I was reading, “Yes, this is most certainly true.”  Mining these pages for the nuggets of wisdom will raise the bar of dynamic ministry in your setting.  The church depends on you—and so does Jesus. – Rev. Ron Qualley, ELCA Pastor, Fairfax/Clifton, VA

All ELCA pastors and council leaders will find much in this groundbreaking book to stimulate thinking,and conversation. Russ Crabtree and the team of Holy Cow! Consulting provide evidence that has the potential for congregations to discover effective practices, refashioned priorities and renewed hope for the future. Our congregation has made use of the C.A.T. (Congregational Assessment Tool) twice in the past five years and it’s been transformational for our mission and a pastoral succession planning process. You owe it to yourself to read this book.  – Pastor Kurt M. Jacobson, ELCA Pastor, Eau Claire, WI

Our family at Holy Cow! Consulting continues to strive to  support the work our clients are doing and we are committed to sharing what we learn as we go.   We look forward to our continued partnership with all of you and are eternally grateful that you have become a part of our “Why.”

Emily Swanson, President

Holy Cow! Consulting 

Over the Years We have our Cows and CATs

We admit our name “Holy Cow! Consulting” is a bit different.  Originally coined by  baseball players in the early 1900s, it gained greater notoriety when Harry Caray used it in his years as a baseball announcer.  The phrase means “wow!” implying that there has just been an amazing event or that eureka moment – which we hope is the experience our clients have when they work with our tools.

That said, we know our name deserves as many cow jokes as our clients can send us.  Over the years, we have had such a fun time with clients who get creative in encouraging their congregations to take the CAT (Congregation Assessment Tool). Here are some of our favorite Cow/CAT ideas:

This cow was placed outside of the church on launch day with a sign saying “Take my survey!” photo 2.JPG

 

 The sign with this picture said “Get Ready the CAT is coming!” enhanced-buzz-11844-1397060009-22.jpg

These CAT caps were worn by everyone on the planning committee who introduced the CAT to the congregation – Unknown.jpeg

 

 “The Cow brings us the CAT” was this slogan: enhanced-buzz-8892-1397081147-11.jpg

 

 Perhaps my all time favorite (though not cow or cat themed), one music director had the children’s choir sing “Are You Ready for a Survey?” to the theme of “Do You want to Build a Snowman” from the movie Frozen. 

So keep sending us your creative ideas! We love cows and cats and working with your congregations.  Let us know how we can help and visit us at www.holycowconsulting.com.

Emily Swanson
President
HC!C logo.png

 

 

 

The Transition and Vital Leader Profile© -Help during Pastoral Transition

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but building the new.  – Socrates 

Congregations that find themselves in a period of pastoral transition are often faced with the extremely daunting task of trying to determine where the congregation is, where they need to be, and who can help them get there.

For more than 25 years, Holy Cow! Consulting has been offering the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) which provides an in-depth look at the experiences, perceptions and aspirations of a church’s congregation.  Once those things are determined, the congregation’s leadership and search committees use the information from the CAT to create a transition plan and pastor/parish profile.

In an effort to help congregations apply what they have learned from the CAT,  we offer the Transition Summary and Vital Leader Profile*.  This report is built from the CAT results (the Vital Signs Report) and the Transition module that is added to the CAT when the congregation places its order.

The Transition Summary gives the congregation a report on what steps should be taken during the time of transition including:

  • Identity and Direction
  • Remedial Issues that need addressed
  • Administrative Issues
  • Opportunities and Vulnerabilities of the Congregation

This report also creates a Vital Leader profile from the congregation’s data in the CAT to help begin the work of constructing the pastor or parish profile.  This profile includes:

  • Professional Interests that would be a good fit for your congregation
  • Context the next pastor/rector should feel comfortable working in
  • What abilities would be needed from the next pastor/rector to help the congregation become a more vital congregation
  • The best fit in terms of Leadership style

In our experience, this report is a much needed tool for a congregation’s leadership during times of transition, helping them make these important decisions in less time with more confidence.

*For more on this report and to see a sample here: Transition and Vital Leader Report Sample.

*To read more on pastoral transitions please order a copy of Transitions Apparitions here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evidence Based Membership – Congregations owning their Data

We, at Holy Cow! Consulting, spend the largest portion of our communication minutes talking about evidence-based leadership, encouraging leaders to engage in a discernment process that integrates organizational intelligence into their leadership decision making.

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.

For 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.

images.jpegThe 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 or new 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 so naïve to believe that OI will (or should) eliminate the need for the political and relationally based components of leadership.  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.    

Russ Crabtree
Founder of Holy Cow! Consulting

Introducing Emerge© for Merging Congregations

 

1cacfe62058d7a47ffbc4a8e2d1e0eb2Many of our congregations are faced with the question of whether they should consider merging with another congregation.  In our work, it is a story we have heard for years. The question whether to merge can be complicated, not just because of the legal, staffing and building issues but because of the emotional toll it can take on congregations.  It is a decision that takes strong leadership, thoughtful prayer, a clear discernment process and wise decision-making.

If you google “merging congregations”, you will find there is no shortage of articles and theories.  A great deal of them talk about intention and alignment.  Do the two congregations have the same intention in terms of whose facility to use? Will it be an absorption, a rebirth, or a continuation?  Are the missions aligned?   However, even with clear intention and alignment of mission many congregations struggle with merging and often find that it doesn’t bring the growth and vitality they had hoped it would.  Why? These best laid plans are missing two key things:  knowledge of what drives the congregation’s energy and satisfaction and an understanding of congregational culture.

And the Two Shall Become One

It is common to hear that the first year of marriage is a tough one. Two people are coming together with different ways of communicating, different ways of viewing the world and, yes, different backgrounds or cultures.

Both people might love dogs or enjoy hiking or feel committed to helping in their local food pantry  – their life missions are aligned.  They might have decided where to live and whose couch they are keeping – they have clear intention as to the logistics of their life together. But it is the other things that need attention as well. Why does he walk out of the room when he is hurt? Why doesn’t she like having people over every weekend – isn’t that fun for her? Can’t we spend Easter like my family always did?   It is these differences in communication, differences in how each person feels revitalized and differences in culture that will need the most work and the most compromise.

Like a marriage, a merging congregation needs more than just the knowledge that their missions are aligned, who will lead them, or what building they will use for worship.   When looking at how congregations will work together, there also needs to be an understanding of how each congregation is driven towards a higher level of energy and satisfaction. And, it cannot be stressed enough, that there must be an understanding that each congregation has a culture and that culture is a big piece of who they are.  If the two congregations are coming from two different cultures, then it will be essential to understand what are the strengths of each culture, as well as the possible traps.  Without understanding what drives each congregation and its culture, all of the best intentions may fall flat.   How can congregations avoid the trap of just best intentions?

Three Steps – Over the Threshold and Beyond

We know that the first year of any relationship is a transition period  and that brings a need for commitment to learn, compromise, and adapt.  Merging congregations must commit to these three steps.  Holy Cow! Consulting has created a map for these steps and we have integrated our tools to help bring congregations clarity as they go through this process.This process is called Emerge© for Merging Congregations.   The word emerge means to come forth or arise.  Perhaps more profoundly emerge is a verb, it is movement. It is the act of arising.

Emerge takes the form of the three levels of commitment.

  1.  Discernment – The Stage of Learning

What happens:   In this phase, merging congregations are determining what kind of relationship they will have with each other. Congregations will have to determine whether to merge, who will be in leadership, the applicable doctrine, etc. Goals will need to be set for the first year after merging with clear follow-up and deadlines.

 Tools needed:    Each congregation will take the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT)® with a merging congregations module.  This tool will show where each congregation is in terms of energy and satisfaction, what their drivers are for vitality and the culture of each congregation.  It will also show how folks feel about the merging, if they feel that the leadership is adequately communicating, and where they believe energy should be placed as the merger moves forward.  The CAT results for each congregation will be run separately and then combined to show, if merged, what the new merged congregation would look like in all of the areas the CAT measures.

Application: Holy Cow! Consulting will run a transition report to help determine identity/direction, remedial issues, administrative needs/issues, opportunities and vulnerabilities, and trust in current leadership.  We have a network of trusted and experienced consultants who can help congregations walk through this discernment process where needed.

  1. Transition – The Stage of Compromise and Adaptation

What happens: Six months after the merger, congregational leadership  (clergy, staff and governing body) needs to look at how they feel about the effectiveness of their leadership at this point in the merging process.

Tools needed: The leadership will take Focal Points™ which  strategically evaluates the leadership team’s core functions, satisfaction, energy, effectiveness, strengths, and areas for further development.

Application: Next steps will be designed from the Focal Points report so the leadership can continue moving forward during this transition period.

  1. Resolution – The Stage of Emerging

What happens:  One year after the merger the congregation will need to assess final steps to solidify the merger and any needed follow-through.

Tools needed:

  • The Leadership Clarity Check™, a simple, ten question survey,  which will help your leaders evaluate how clearly they perceive the climate of the church they lead.
  • The Pulse™, for a staff of 7 or more paid part-time or full-time staff members, which provides clear, reliable information on the health and trajectory of a staff that can be useful in team building, staff development, conflict management, and strategic planning.
  • The Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) for the one merged congregation with a strategic planning module.  This will show the energy and satisfaction levels, the culture of the merged congregations, the drivers, and areas of performance, as well as whether folks are ready for a new vision and mission.  A comparative analysis of the first combined CAT at the beginning of the process and this CAT will be run.

Application:  Holy Cow! Consulting has a network of trusted and experienced consultants who can help congregations with any remaining issues or new issues that have become apparent through the data.

The Anniversary

We know that any relationship worth fighting for requires intentional hardwork and continuous nurturing.  As merging congregations begin to understand the importance of the three steps from the above process and use careful application, their ability to discern next steps will become profound and transformative.  It is our job is to help merging congregations along this path and celebrate with them as they emerge as the vital congregation they were meant to be.

For more on how we can help please visit us at www.holycowconsulting.com.

Emily Swanson
President of Holy Cow! Consulting

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing the Forest – The Family Tree™ Tool and how to use it

If you have ever carried a box of your possessions into your new office on your first day of work, you know how exciting and overwhelming that can be.   You have to figure out where to put that picture of your spouse, or what your computer login is, or where the coffee maker is, but perhaps the hardest task ahead of you is knowing how the organization’s relationships work.  As a new leader of any organization, that first few weeks of navigating those relationships can be crucial.  For those of you in that new leadership position, we offer Family Tree™
      Step back and Look at the View
imagesIt takes time for a new leader to meet all the members of their team or organization, and even longer to understand how they are connected to one another.  Family Tree familiarizes a new leader with those connections and helps him or her get to know the “family” more quickly.    Churches and other religious organizations find the information provided by the Family Tree© to be helpful whenever they are preparing to bring a new leader on board such as a Pastor, Bishop, or Executive.  Likewise, nonprofits and schools  find the information from this report helpful whenever they are preparing to bring on a new Executive Director or other new key leadership member.

The Family Tree is a two-question, online survey of a congregation, regional religious association, nonprofit, or other organization that is completed by its members and staff.  While most surveys ask evaluative questions of respondents, the Family Tree asks about the connections of members to one another. This enables us to generate a series of maps that show how the organization is relationally networked.

The Map of the Forest 

 The Family Tree report provides a map of the relationships within an organization, shows which ones are carrying a lot of information and which ones are connecting just a few people. Some relationships are one-way; others are reciprocal. Having these maps helps a leader know how to navigate the relational space of an organization.

The maps show a number of views of an organization. One view shows the Isolates, that is, the folks who are isolated.  Another view shows the Islands, the people who are connected to one another but not to the “trunk of the tree”. Still another view shows the Bridges. These people are the glue in an organization. Without the Bridges, the family would fragment into many disconnected clans. The final view shows the Key Figures. These are the major relational intersections in the congregation where a lot of information traffic is flowing. Key Figures are usually informal leaders.

Family Tree Map

Haven’t we been here before? 
Most organizations, religious and otherwise, already have an organizational chart.  These charts show what roles people have within the organization and who they report to in the chain of command.  In many situations, there are important informal leaders who do not sit in official positions. These are not discovered in a formal organizational chart, but often through trial and error.
Family Tree helps orient a new leader to the informal structure of a church or organization in the same way that an organizational chart orients a new leader to the formal structure.  These maps might be used by a new leader to reach out to those who are isolated. Or a new leader might try to find ways to connect the Islands to everyone else. A new leader could use the maps as a way of building consensus on important decisions rather than simply engaging in top down decision-making.
Hopefully, your new team members will help you find the coffee maker in your new office. But let us help you see the forest as you start your new journey.   For more information on Family Tree or to get started visit us at www.holycowconsulting.com.