Peter Drucker was right. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
However, once you get the priority on the culture you had better have a strategy. Cool draws a crowd sometimes. But that crowd is often fickle and will run to the next season’s version of cool quicker than you expect.
The strategy has to be more than cool stuff. New shiny toys become forgotten very quickly.
Proactive Bias Toward Relationships
The strategy has to be built on developing mechanisms that multiply new relationships. This can’t be left to organic. Organic is just the cool of the day. Atrophy eats organic for lunch. If you leave it to see what happens you will atrophy. If you expect people to grow without a pat on the back you are expecting too much. If you think people will change without a kick in the butt you don’t know people. And if you think life will move forward without someone taking someone’s hand and helping them down the road you will hit the ditch and perhaps wonder how you got there.
Any strategy you employ has to have a grand central theme and direction. It needs to be distilled into something you can say in a short sentence. And it needs the background detail worked out to the extent it could make the accountant and lawyer types smile – if in fact your accountants and lawyer types have learned how to smile. (Apologies to the accountants and lawyers who don’t like the unfair generalization.)
Clear Workable Plans
Your strategy must have a specific plan that inspires the early adopters. You have to capture the attention of the innovators and the early adopters before you will get to the early majority. The early majority will suck the late majority into the plan for you. The laggards are, well, laggards. They will do one of four things. 1. They will change into someone more forward thinking. 2. They will silently get dragged along by the majority. 3. They will continue to kick and scream that the sky is falling without people lining up behind them. 4. They will leave and tell the world that you just don’t get “it” – whatever their conception of “it” is. Usually they will add a good measure of character assassination in their pitch to the outsiders.
Priority Over Sequence
There are lots of sources for information on how to develop a good strategy. As long as you understand that culture comes first in priority if not in sequence you will be good to go.
You must think in terms of parallel tracks. To skip to a boxing analogy, you lead with the jabs at the culture to soften things up and create the conditions for some solid shots with the other hand of strategy. But don’t make the mistake of going for the knock out punch before you are ready. You will look silly if you do. You will lose your credibility. The strategy brings the lasting and permanent results but it will only do so if the culture is strong and attractive.
Culture without Breakfast Gets Weaker
New churches grow faster than old churches. That is the simple fact. Why? Apart from the fact that people like something new better than something old there is more to consider. New churches usually care to grow numerically and take steps to bring others in. That may simply be because they want to survive. Or it could and should be because they care to seek and save lost people.
The strategy you choose can’t simply be to pad your pews and embellish your fine heritage. That will drive cultural advancement into the basement. You must build a strategy on the provable foundation that your new plan will reach or at least facilitate accommodating new people.