Leadership Making Church Matter

Great to Good (to not nearly good enough)

July 20, 2013

“Recently I was in Chicago with my associate Tom, for discussions related to our book.  Chicago is a great city and I wish I had more time to spend there, seeing some of the sights: We were only there for less than 24 hours.

We stayed at a hotel that was located near where our meeting was to take place (in the “Loop,” which is what they call the commercial center of the city). We stayed in this particular hotel because of its proximity to our destination and also because we got a great deal on the rate. Never having heard of it, and not liking surprises, I toured the hotel’s web site. Besides being a bargain, this place looked quite grand…in other words, too good to be true. It was. It was a dump.

It was built on a monumental scale, in an optimum location, and, from photos displayed in the lobby, it was the sight of some great history and grand events, playing host to presidents and kings.

No kings around by the time we checked in. What happened? Perhaps not intentionally or deliberately, but eventually this place had changed. The grand lobby got carved up into a crummy little corridor, the elegant dining room is now only a coffee shop (with really bad coffee), the legendary bar now a shabby pool parlor, the rooms stopped getting decently updated and then stopped getting thoroughly cleaned some time ago. Even the splendor of the architecture had been compromised at every turn, reducing the majestic to the merely mundane. The place had an air of slow but steady death about it. Great became good, which became good enough, which drifted into not nearly good enough. What happened?

When was the day that it became OK for one of the letters in the big roof top sign to go dark and stay that way. When did the personnel policy change so that it was OK for staff to choose not to treat guests with courtesy?

Who knows really? At some point in the life of this particular hotel, there was someone, or a whole critical mass of someones who cared enough, probably passionately, to make sure their hotel was reaching a high bar of excellence. All remaining evidence suggests they were the best at what they did, way ahead of the pack.

For innovators and creators and lead agents there is rarely a template or rulebook or code, they’re just out there, doing great stuff better than anyone else, knowing what great stuff is and consistently achieving that mark. But the work is labor intensive, personalities come into play and can mess things up, some people are always looking for an easier way

Who knows what happened at this hotel, but whatever happened, the place tells a story. One-day people stop noticing. And then they stop caring. And then they stop showing up. And then you’ve got a dump instead of a best in its class destination. Suddenly what’s working, isn’t anymore.

It can happen anywhere, even in Church.”

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