Decisions in dysfunction

10 06 2008

I’ll sometimes pose the pragmatic question “who is making the decision” to illicit a focus on whether those decision makers are engaged in the process leading up to “making the decision.”  Another reason to ask that question is to have the discussion of how qualified the decision makers are to make the decision(s)?  Is there a correlation between the level of unity/community among decision makers and how issues are processed and decisions made?

The senior staff team has recognized these issues and has been working at them.  What about the elders and deacons?  Do we feel we have sufficient unity/community to make significant decisions?  Obviously this is not an academic discussion – we are currently faced with a plan to change the way many of us have been engaged in shepherding and in a few short months will be asked to make multi-million dollar decisions regarding building on the new property.

Is it to bold to say it’s time to engage or get out?  I think some of us feel we are in the stands at a football game (maybe even box seats) having forgotten we were suppose to be playing!  For those on the field it’s a mess – there have been very few practices, there are not enough real players and we can’t execute a decent play.

I think Bob Evans referenced the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencioni as something the senior staff was been using.  If we apply this to the other leaders in the church what does it look like?

The first dysfunction is an absence of trust among team members. Essentially, this stems from their unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation of trust. This failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.

A lack of healthy conflict is a problem because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team: lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they my feign agreement during meetings.

Because of this lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop an avoidance of accountability, the fourth dysfunction. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.

Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where the fifth dysfunction can thrive. Inattention to results occurs when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or even the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team.

We need to initiate – time is no longer something we have to waste (at a lot of levels).  Maybe a place to start is throwing some of the questions we need to process on the table and suggestions on how to process them?  Here are a few that I have:

1) What has God been speaking to each of us about?

2) What has to happen for Wildwood it to become a more healthy church?

3) What is God up to in our community?

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