Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thinking with outdated currency

There is a great article in this month's Chief Learning Officer called "Trios Trump Singletons." I especially like the opening story the author Jay Cross tells. He writes about having a fabulous dinner at a beautiful restaurant in the Southern Alps and paying the tab of 154 euros. He then reflects back to 20 years earlier, sitting in that same restaurant and paying the bill of 30,0o0 liras, less than 20 euros. After reflecting on how much prices have risen (mentioning the '60s book, Europe on $5 a Day) he writes a fantastic line. "Thinking with outdated currency keeps most CLOs [Chief Learning Officers] from reaching their potential."

The article turns to matters of corporate learning focusing on the fact that leaders often make decisions based on outdated perceptions of how long things take and how much, in terms of resources, they cost. There is another great line, "saying there is not enough time is a statement of priorities, not of scarce resources. The author proposes that, in corporate life, this can lead to choices of limiting resource use by training one person instead of a group, missing out on the multiplication effect of people learning together.

The article raises all sorts of questions for the church. In what ways are we, as church leaders "thinking with outdated currency?" This may be a much bigger problem for churches since decisions require much broader support. It is not just a matter of a shift in thinking of the leader, but the leader's ability to garner support for a new way of thinking. I am sure most pastors and experienced lay leaders can remember trying to make a decision with someone in the room who was convinced that it is still 1950. Churches can become immobilized by making decisions without truly considering them priority statements and truly considering the current context, along with the new possibilities afforded by technology and continual development of the practice of ministry and church management.

In what ways are we, as church leaders "thinking with outdated currency?" And, what can we do about it?



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