Relaunching Confidently Together Into the Future

Posted on: April 10th, 2013 by Hayim Herring

I recently made a presentation to a group of synagogue leaders in St. Paul. A very bright volunteer who was familiar with Synaplex , an initiative that I developed, asked me, “Why are your ideas about the Jewish community different since you last presented to our congregation?” My ineloquent answer: “Umm…things have changed since we last worked together.” Not exactly a satisfying answer, but that was the best I could do given the time constraints.


Later that evening, I asked myself, “Okay, many things changed. But what are some of the most significant changes that have occurred within the past five years or so?” Not coincidentally, this was a question that I had been thinking about for sometime. I have been very concerned about how organizations are either in paralysis, denial or a state of confusion as they struggle to conduct business in post-economic bust that is stubbornly persistent. I’ve seen some organizations:

  • Doing less with less, more slowly
  • Others working harder at doing the same thing, wishing that things return to normal
  • And, a much smaller group searching for new ways of conducting business.

The financial crisis didn’t cause the malaise that some Jewish organizations are feeling. But it certainly accelerated the experience of loss and change.


Here’s my one sentence insight that gets to the heart of how things have changed: Organizations that thrive in the 21st Century will be distinguished by two attributes: entrepreneurship and organizational foresight.


“Innovation” is now a tired catchphrase, and is often used as a substitute for entrepreneurship, but there is a difference between them:

  • Innovation requires creativity but, unlike entrepreneurship, does not address issues like tolerance for risk, organizational agility, improvisational ability and speed.
  • Innovation often comes in bursts after focusing on discrete ideas and issues, while entrepreneurship requires cultivating a certain kind of culture, defined by a set of practices and attitudes that are infused throughout an organization.
  • Innovation implies the creation of something new, while entrepreneurship can mean dramatically improving what is already working with new vision and processes.


Joel Barker, a pioneer and internationally renowned business process futurist, has influenced my thinking about organizational foresight. I’ve had the amazing experience of learning from Joel, who frequently says that, “Finding the answer to a problem is just the first part of a solution. One of your important tasks is not just to find a solution, but to identify the long-term implications of a solution, both positive and negative, so you can better understand what you are getting into.” And I’ve spent the last 18 months acquiring expertise in some of Joel’s methodologies, as well as additional methodologies, that help organizations find and shape their desired future before the future leaves them undesirable.


Continuing the work in my book, Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today. Creating Vibrant Centers of Jewish Life, which will soon have a companion workbook that I’ve co-authored, I’ll also be helping organizations shift from being hierarchies to “platforms.” And, I hope that my website will become a learning exchange, where you and I share breakthrough insights, pilot programs and ideas from talented individuals inside and outside of the Jewish community.


One last change: Herring Consulting Network reflected my bedrock belief in collaboration. That hasn’t changed, as you’ll see in the “Our People” section on my website. But the name was too long, so my web address is simply


My newly launched website – – now reflects my interests and how they can help your congregation or organization become even more vibrant communities. The new site is up, thanks to the incredible design work and insights of my friend and colleague, Rabbi Jason Miller, who is my social media adviser. (And if you’re looking for a social media maven, I encourage you to be in touch with Jason!) But please give feedback and let me know how I can make it better if you have ideas.


Thanks and let’s get to this new work together.


Rabbi Hayim Herring

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