Communication Leadership Stewardship

Smart and Healthy Parishes

January 11, 2015

Our senior leadership team just wrapped up two intense days of review and planning for our parish, looking ahead to 2015. We worked with our friend, Patrick Lencioni. Pat is author of more than 10 best selling books all about best practices in business and leadership development. If you haven’t read any of his stuff, you should. Pat spends most of his time working with global giants like Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, Deloitte, Chick-fil-A, and the list goes on and on. In his free time he helps out non profits, and, in the past couple of years, our little church in the woods.

Patrick preaches “organizational health.” He begins, in his excellent book The Advantage:

The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anybody who wants it.

At its core, organizational health is about integrity, that is to say an organization is whole, consistent and complete. Its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense. Any organization that really wants to maximize its success and impact has to embody two basic qualities: smart and healthy.

Smart organizations are good at the fundamentals of the given enterprise they’re involved in: for a parish that might be Liturgy and Music, Faith Formation, Finances, Hospitality, Evangelization, Youth Ministry, and whatever list you care to make.

Though it occupies almost all of our time and effort and budget, being smart is only half the equation. The other half, that is largely ignored, even in the most successful businesses and thriving parishes is health.

A good way to recognize health is to look for the signs that indicate an organization has it. These include minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover rate among employees.

In discussion with Patrick we came to the conclusion that, before “rebuilding” our parish was neither smart nor healthy. Eventually we got smart, with great effort and at personal sacrifice. But we were still not healthy. In fact, in frank discussion our Leadership Team came to acknowledge in the meeting the exact ways in which we are still not 100% healthy and what we have to do if we are going to pursue more robust health in 2015. That was not an easy conversation, but it was a great one to have.

Is your parish smart or healthy, or neither or both? Ask yourself honestly.


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