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The Truth About Organizations

In his excellent book “The Answer to How is Yes,” Peter Block makes three fascinating points about working for institutions. I’d be curious to know if based on your experience you would agree:

1) The higher you go up in an organization, the more anxious the people are. I see this often in non-profits and religious organizations. Managers who are terrified of the leader, scared of their performance, and generally miserable.

2) Retirement parties are often the first place where truth is told in public. Once the hold on employees is over, they’re finally free to say what they really think. They are no longer vulnerable. They are bulletproof. They may get shot at, but now, they don’t feel the pain.

3) The winners in our culture have little capacity to criticize themselves. This is why artists choose freedom over safety. In most organizations there is little room for critique at the top.
What are the trade-offs at your organization? Do any of these characterize your company, church, non-profit, or ministry?

What would it take to change?

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5 Comments

  1. Point 1 hits home.  I'm convinced more and more, that there's a vast difference between the Institution of the Church and the organic Church.  The institution of the Church far too often relies upon shame and guilt to motivate people to be involved in things and do things for the organization that very often has very little to do with true ministry.

    Leaders of such organizations have a vested interest in perpetuating this cycle and they are the ones with the most to lose when the gloss comes off and people see that far too often, the emporer has no clothes.

    It's sad to say but true … I've grown more in my Christian walk not being in Church work anymore.

  2. An artist in the church setting certainly chooses neither freedom nor safety. How can we fix that? I'm working on that, but surely against the grain of our larger church ministries.

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