Need for the Longer Term View

In the previous post I mentioned some thoughts that came out of the article, “Moon Shots for Management.”  There are a couple other quick thoughts that I would like to mention in the following two posts.  First, there is the idea that incentives need to provide for the long term!

Stretch executive time frames and perspectives.  Compensation and incentive systems often truncate executive time horizons and skew perspectives.  For instance, research suggests that most executives wouldn’t fund a viable new initiative if doing so reduced current earnings.  Building new incentive systems that focus executive attention on creating long term stakeholder value must be a critical priority for management innovation.” (6)

Too often in for-profits, non-profits, public school districts, and even congregations, financing and decision making is tied too much to the short-term budget decisions without putting equal weight and value in the long-term health and possibilities for the organization.  By focusing solely on the short term there is little room for innovation, creativity, and collaboration.  In a congregation, for example, keeping decisions and discernment closely tied to current budget limitations may have the benefit of “living within one’s means,” but it also may have the limiting effect of living out of “scarcity” and not stepping out in the faith of God’s abundance.  Without a view of the future possibilities, why would people be willing to give more of themselves- their time, their money, their lives and passions?  They might be willing to give some, but there is little motivation and willingness to support beyond a basic level because they would struggle to see the long term value of the congregation and the work the congregation is doing and may be led and called to be doing.  This relates to non-profits within their acts of fundraising as well and how they must effectively fund-raise by tying the individual donor with the long term story and mission of the non-profit’s work and purpose.

I am not saying we should ignore all short term budget situations, or remove short term budget based incentives.  What I am advocating is for there to be some created balance between the long and short view.  You can’t be a very effective or sustainable organization without both.  So, what do you think?  How would you create incentives for long term growth and value?  How would you combine that with short term incentives as part of a cohesive incentive structure?

SOURCE:

Gary Hamel, “Moon Shots for Management,” in Harvard Business Review, (February 2009), 6.

Management as a Liberal Art- Moonshots

Peter F. Drucker believed that management is a liberal art.  In fact, to this end he even titled the second chapter in his famous blue covered seminal work, Management, “Management as a Social Function and Liberal Art.”  Drucker explained,

“Management is thus what tradition used to call a liberal art:  ‘liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom and leadership; ‘art’ because it is practice and application.” (Drucker, 25)

It’s in this vein that when I read and re-read a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article recently, “Moon Shots for Management” by Gary Hamel, I couldn’t shake the idea that these management theorists were just rediscovering that management is indeed a liberal art.

The 2009 article from HBR which my father pointed me towards really is quite good at offering vision and ideas of management for the future and today’s constantly changing world.  The moonshots as they came up with are 25 larger ideas in response to the question, “What great challenges must we tackle to reinvent management and make it more relevant to a volatile world?”  Two ideas really struck a chord I will quote in their entirety in this blog post.  The first is “Enable Communities of Passion.”

Enable communities of passion.  Passion is a significant multiplier of human accomplishment, particularly when like-minded individuals converge around a worthy cause.  Yet a wealth of data indicates that most employees are emotionally disengaged at work.  They are unfulfilled, and consequently their organizations under perform.  Companies must encourage communities of passion by allowing individuals to find a higher calling within their work lives, by helping to connect employees who share similar passions, and by better aligning the organization’s objectives with the natural interests of its people.” (Hamel, 7)

It goes without saying, without passion there isn’t much of a spark. Without a spark, things might be good but they won’t have that special “it” factor, that feeling that the people engaged in what they are doing really believe in what they are doing and always go above and beyond expectations because they believe in doing so.  Put another way, without an appreciation for vocation and an understanding of vocation as it relates to passion, management fails to ignite the dreams, passion and imagination of their co-workers, peers, constituents, teammates, and colleagues.

The second moonshot idea is “Reconstruct Management’s Philosophical Foundation.”

Reconstruct management’s philosophical foundations.  Tomorrow’s organizations must be adaptable, innovative, inspiring, and socially responsible, as well as operationally excellent.  To imbue organizations with these attributes, scholars and practitioners must rebuild management’s underpinnings.  That will require hunting for new principles in fields as diverse as anthropology, biology, design, political science, urban planning, and theology.” (Hamel, 3)

Management is not just a discipline, its interdisciplinary.  Therefore, I believe it is a liberal art because it draws on the understandings, theories, and learning of multiple arenas.  This is probably why I have such a passion for it.  Because I can’t help but see how the intersections of religion, economics, leadership, theology, politics, design, planning, etc., all come together to inform and shape work and thought.  I believe real managers and leaders see these intersections as well.  They don’t try to ignore the different disciplines, but they try to learn as much as they can, and connect with fellow leaders and learners in the different areas to share insights, discern together, and therefore be able to tackle the larger societal issues and challenges that exist through conversation, mutual learning and appreciation.

SOURCES:

Peter F. Drucker, Management:  Revised Edition, (New York, NY:  Collins Business, 2008).

Gary Hamel, “Moon Shots for Management,” Harvard Business Review, (February 2009).

Leadership and the Church- Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Friends with Dr. FretheimI had the pleasure of being able to take some time out of my work day to attend chapel at Luther Seminary yesterday.  I felt it was important to do so as this was the final chapel service of the academic year, and it was a special one of “Farewell and Godspeed” for a place itself that is in the midst of great transition and change.

A number of great Lutheran minds, teachers and Luther Seminary leaders are retiring, leaving because of budget challenges, or taking new calls.  Among these include two of my absolute favorites- Dr. Terence Fretheim and Dr. Roland Martinson.  Though both have great heads of “white hair” they both have more youth and energy than most people I know under the age of 40 (probably even 30).  They have such hopeful smiles, encouraging words, and brilliant minds.  For so long they have shaped the leaders of this church and future leaders.  Yesterday was a chance to, as Dr. Martinson put it in his sermon, to have the rare opportunity and gift “to say goodbye.”

It was very sad to see Dr. Fretheim go up for communion for his last time as a current faculty member.  Part of why it was sad, is that it hit me, he has been doing this consistently in chapel at the seminary since the 1960s.  Can you imagine the history?  Yet, Fretheim is as active as ever in his scholarship with new works due to be published by 2016.  So I guess for him, retirement should be written as “retirement” in quotes.  For Dr. Martinson, retirement is more uncertain.  Will he move into being a grandpa 24-7?  Something tells me, he would drive his grand kids crazy with his endless energy and vision for the church.  There is some great next calling he will have (in addition to his family), we will just have to wait and see.

There are far too many others who also were recognized today for their service to comment on here.  But I hope they know how much they are appreciated, as my wife echoed in her post today.  They have shaped the future of this church and have served well and oh so faithfully.  They are a blessing and will continue to be.  Though today is a sad day for us as Luther Seminary alumni and friends, it is also a hopeful one.  These great servants will keep serving in new ways, and their good work will continue to bear fruit in the work of all those whom they trained, taught and shaped in some way whether through lecture, idea, or even their written word and publications. For the rest of the Luther community, they serve as an inspiration and reflection of what the seminary’s mission is.

Luther Seminary’s future may not be financially secure at the moment, but I do believe that it has a bright future as the participants of God’s mission in the world will continue to need leaders and those leaders will need some kind of training from some place or places.

Thanks be to God for these servants and their leadership. Thanks be to God for the way they helped me to think and be comfortable asking questions I very well may never know the full answer of (especially Dr. Fretheim’s unique way of getting me to wrestle with a text and ask the sometimes bizarre and challenging questions which emerge just below the surface).  Thanks be to God for the hope we have in God for today and tomorrow.  We may not know what the future of the church looks like, but God is at work in the world.  This much I do believe is certain.

This Week in Minnesota

Preface- This post has nothing to do with my typical dialogue about leadership.  I offer this post as a personal reflection of current events, and as part of my on-going discernment of what it means and might mean to love the neighbor.

Tomorrow Minnesota will officially join my home state of Washington by recognizing same-sex marriage.  I don’t state this fact to offend anyone or to start a debate.  I offer it more as a point that this is, as far as I can see it, the result of loving our neighbor and meeting them where they are at.   

By loving our neighbor we not only meet them where they are at, we stand with them when the going gets tough, or even when we personally might not agree on things, we agree that we have certain rights and opportunities and should share as fellow participants in God’s created order.  This I believe.  If God created and continues to create all that exists, then God created me, a heterosexual male as well as my homosexual friends.  To all of the theological wrangling and arguments which have been particularly vitriolic over the past half-decade, I don’t intend to dig into them here. All I intend to say is this, I am happy.  I am happy today because the people of Minnesota decided that all people deserve the same right to marry, should they have someone they love and would like to make a life-long committed partnership with.

For those who disagree with me, I respect you, and I respect your right to believe that.  That’s a first amendment right.  But as for me, if I didn’t believe this, I would have a hard time reconciling to myself my understanding of what it means to love my neighbor.  It’s too much for me to comprehend that I should be afforded the opportunity to share my life with the love of my life, my wife, with the thought that my own brother might not have such an opportunity to one day have a legally recognized marriage.  This law does not say the church must do anything about this (and rightfully so given the separation of church and state).  It just says that the state will acknowledge and affirm such relationships.  I personally hope that my church will host such marriages someday, because then perhaps my home church which was such a beautiful setting for my wife’s and my wedding will also be able to host my brother’s wedding.

Yes, my brother is gay.  Yes, I love him with all of my heart.  I haven’t publicly written about this before.  But seeing as he is now publicly acknowledging who he is and whom God created him to be, I think it’s only right that I acknowledge who I am.  I am his brother, a fellow Child of God, who believes in love.  I believe in my heart of hearts that this is a move towards reconciliation and welcome.  God created us to be in community.  Moves like that which have been happening in Minnesota this week are ones which are small steps towards barrier breaking and bridge building.  Trust me, the world will not end.  Iowa is doing just fine, and so is Washington.  It’s going to be okay.

I don’t just believe that this was right because of my brother, though this relationship plays a major role in my belief.  I deeply believe it’s a response to an understanding of the promise and the gospel made known to us through Christ Jesus.  Jesus’ summation of the law is that of love- to love the Lord your God above all, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  That which does not correlate with this seems at odds with my humble understanding of the gospel.  We don’t have to earn salvation, Christ did this for us.  We are not to exclude.  In fact, whenever we create barriers, I believe Christ is with whoever is on the other side.  Christ calls us together to be one body as Paul likes to write about.  I can only hope that this week’s action in Minnesota will be a small step in that direction. 

Perpetual Discernment

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I believe that life is perpetual discernment.  I am coming to believe that I will never fully know who I am called to be for the rest of my life.  Rather, I hope that I will be able to discern through conversation, prayer, dwelling and introspection who I am now and might be in the process of becoming and being called to be.  There is then a constancy of discernment in life.

I am not saying that this is discernment like having to pick out what to wear each day of life, though this is true. But I mean discernment on more of an adaptive level (to borrow the language of Heifetz and Linsky).  I am talking about discernment about:  what are my passions? Am I growing in what I am doing, or have I hit a plateau?  For me at least, the ability to grow, be empowered,  fulfilled and be enriched is just as important if not more important than the amount of a paycheck.  This hits at the discernment piece.

The question of “who am I?” will not change.  But the potential answers and the richness of those answers will change given life experience and life situation.

What do you think?  What have your own discernment experiences been, or better, how is your perpetual discernment going now?