Essentials Part 2: Reduce Complexity 1

Rick Mattson Leadership Leave a Comment

Over the last two years I’ve been privileged to visit more than 50 campus ministries around the country — most (but not all) of them related to InterVarsity, at least 25 churches, and a smattering of other ministries.

So I’m blogging for a few weeks about the patterns I observe regarding organizational health and growth.

Growth Essential #1 from last week’s post: Become healthy at the core.

Growth Essential #2: Reduce complexity to the point of quality.

Streamlined organizations with simple structures and a clear purpose are exciting to be around. Morale is high, teamwork is strong. They don’t try to “do everything,” just a few high-quality items.

Such quality tends to attract talented people (visionaries, gatherers, teachers, artists, administrators) who add their own contributions to the mix. This creates even more momentum.

On the other hand, struggling ministries often think of themselves as patron sponsors of a sprawling web of semi-related entities run by independent entrepreneurs.

I’m choosing my words carefully.

The mentality seems to be, If someone has a calling from God and a passion to start something, we empower them with resources and release them to their work.

There’s something appealing about that. So, you want to start a mens’ ministry? You have our blessing. A gospel choir? Go for it. Who are we to stand in the way of God’s calling on your life?

And while the web of sprawling entities does seem to produce healthy growth at times, in my experience it’s rarely sustainable and often devolves into a frustrating mess.

Next week I’ll offer a further comparison of the two patterns: Simple vs Sprawling.

If you have insights on the topic, please use the comment section below or email me. Thanks!

(For a resource that in general terms argues against┬áthe position I’m taking, see Ori Brafman’s The Starfish and the Spider. I liked this book but when not applied properly it leads, I think, to disunity and failure.)

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