Recently I was able to catch William C. Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine on G5Leadership. If you have an interest in leadership studies this is a good site for you to follow. It's business focused, but I met a ton of clergy there when I listened in on Taylor's presentation. At any rate, I picked up a copy of his new book, Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself. It's a lot of title, but it works.
Like many of these books, it's a string of ideas and epiphanies that illuminate one central point. That point in this case is: Take your business hierarchy/structure/culture and explode it. Open every door, window, and vent you have. Connect. Collaborate. Celebrate.
It's a fun book to read. Quick. It's designed for you to read any of the three sections in any particular order. I started at the end of the book with "Challenging Yourself." The section was example after example of leaders who had stopped trying to be the resident expert or ego (See: Steve Jobs, Apple) and who opened their corporations to the world...and how this works really well! It's community organizing writ corporate. It's grass roots. It's collectivist. It is, in a word, fun. (See: Tony Hsieh, Zappos)
This is where the word "celebrate" I offer in my version of the thesis above comes in. Taylor is having fun. The people he interviews are having fun. The companies that are willing to change, open themselves up etc are having fun. They are doing what inspires them, where communities are built, where people are put first, and where creativity is honored.
My favorite example of an organization that corporations (I read: churches.) can emulate is the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. They do what they do and they do it supremely well...and all without a conductor. There is no one leader. They take turns. They collaborate. The process is sometimes slower, but the product is incredible and draws their audiences in.
I guess I don't really have to say it, but I loved how Taylor described these companies. They all seemed like places where I would want to work if I didn't already like my line of work.
The key to his Radical Practicality (or is it Practical Radicality?), is for the leadership to let go, to share as much as possible, to share the resources, the credit, the inspiration, the genius, etc. Companies make smarter decisions when genius is pooled together.
I think this could be a really helpful book for pastors. It assumes a constantly changing environment, myriad "competitors" offering something similar, and a global shift in how people relate to one another and the products they use. This is Emergent Business 101. Emergence is everywhere, people. How do you involve leadership and others in your congregation directly in visioning and creating ministries for your church? How can you expand the pool of people who offer your church feedback, ideas, and even solutions to your problems beyond the membership of the congregation? What kind of leader would you have to be to do this? And how could this simply make you a better church?
Check this book out of the library or borrow it from someone you know...or buy it. You'll read it in an afternoon, but you'll find yourself coming back again and again. Good stuff.