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Today’s Disruptors, Tomorrow’s Disrupted

Posted on: December 7th, 2016 by Hayim Herring No Comments

More on: Leading Congregations in a Connected World: Platforms, People and Purpose

In our last blog post, my colleague, Dr. Terri Elton, Associate Professor Leadership at Luther Seminary and I, described the launch of our new book, Leading Congregations in a Connected World: Platform, People and Purpose. (And remember to take advantage now of a time-limited 40% discount on your purchase.) Now for our motivation: we confess that we’re organizational geeks! We actually like to study how people in faith-based communities organize for collective purpose and impact for several reasons. Organizational structure can:

• Either inhibit or accelerate impact.
• Become invisible to those who work in organizations once they learn how to live within its parameters.
• Become so deeply embedded in organizations, that leaders need to make a conscious, intentional choice to think about alternatives.

Organization and structure matter, then, because they have a dramatic effect on mission, meaning and impact.

When one congregation is in distress, it provokes only self-examination. But many older, highly structured congregations and nonprofit organizations are adrift, and many emergent, socially networked ones restructuring for sustainable growth. We read that turbulence as a signal for a broader inquiry. That’s why Terri and I interviewed 34 clergy, professional and volunteers leaders from 15 Jewish and Protestant congregations and nonprofit organizations throughout the country. These leaders worked both in “established” and “emerging” congregations and nonprofits. We wanted to hear their stories of navigating disruptive times and integrate their stories with theory and practice.

snapchat-facebook

And what did we find: Disruption does not discriminate between “established” and “emerging” organizations. An example: in 2013, Evan Spiegel, one of the founders of the popular social media app, Snapchat, reportedly rebuffed an all cash offer from Facebook C.E.O.’s Mark Zuckerberg for over $3 billion. At the time, Spiegel was 23 years old and Zuckerberg was 29. Spiegel, a 23 year-old disruptor apparently didn’t believe that an “older” person like Zuckerberg could fully appreciate how revolutionary his platform was! Today’s disruptors can easily become tomorrow’s disrupted, whether in the for-profit or nonprofit sector.

Having a place for leaders of “established” and “emerging” congregations and nonprofits to discuss how they are learning to lead through the challenges of disruption would be very fruitful! So please connect with Hayim (options for social media of your choice, top right) or with Terri (telton@luthersem.edu, www.facebook.com/terri.elton, @TerriElton) and contribute your wisdom to these unprecedented questions.

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Evelyn M. Rusli and Douglas MacMillian, “Snapchat Spurned $3 Billion Acquisition Offer from Facebook,” The Wall Street Journal Blog, November 2013, accessed June 1, 2016.

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