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How DEEP is the change you’re seeking?

Alignment is sustained when congregations “go deep” in their change efforts. A congregation I worked with had as one of its goals to become known for extravagant hospitality yet its plan for enhancing hospitality only focused on training ushers and greeters and providing better signage around the building. These were good places to start but only scratched the surface in creating a memorable experience of hospitality for visitors. Their members needed to go deep by

  • evaluating how well their website provided a visitor-friendly experience.
  • rethinking the color schemes of their building; the type of coffee and refreshments they served; and how one might be treated if visiting other portions of the building.
  • rethinking how hospitality would be experienced in small group settings
  • considering how accessible staff were on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
  • making worship an engaging and transformative experience and the worship bulletins more user-friendly
  • describing what they hoped a visitor would experience after the worship service and once the person returned home.

Successful leaders are congruent and fully aligned within themselves and with their congregation. When this is multiplied throughout an organization, the results are tangible and transformative!

 Alignment sets the stage for DEEP change

A congregation’s common language must draw people’s attention to its mission, vision, and values. It should remind people of the primary principles and practices
that lead to the fulfillment of the mission. One of the first steps in the alignment process is to develop a common language around faith formation, mission, vision, and values. Listed below are four steps to create a common vocabulary for your congregation:

Developing a CHANGE Script

A CHANGE script that provides a narrative for managing the transition that will occur as a result of implementing the needed changes. This narrative must address the following questions:

  • What’s the primary purpose for making these changes?
  • What will our preferred future look and like?
  • What’s the plan for getting there?
  • What personal contributions will each person make?
  • What’s the process for dealing with the tension of change?
  • How will our progress be communicated to our faith community?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—Matthew 6:21

WHAT TYPES OF ALIGNMENT ARE NEEDED IN YOUR MINISTRY?

Listed below are several facets of ministry that leaders need to pay attention to and ensure that they are in alignment with what matters most.

ALIGN YOUR ASSETS

How we allocate our resources speaks volumes about what we say is important.  Are your intentions backed up by resources at your congregation’s disposal?  Listed below are some questions to discern the alignment of your assets.

  • Does your budget reflect what’s important?
  • Do your facilities reflect what’s important?

ALIGN YOUR ACTIONS

Encourage households to go deep in areas such as practicing faith at home. When my own family made a commitment to be more intentional about practicing faith every day, everywhere, we created a one-page summary of what that would look like for our family based on our responses to the following questions:

  • What prayers and caring conversations might we have at the dinner table?
  • What books, topics, or questions might we discuss in the car?
  • What might our bedtime routine look like?
  • In what ways could we serve each other better?
  • What community service projects should we participate in this year?
  • When can we have the grandparents share their life and faith stories with our kids?
  • How can we more fully involve godparents in the faith lives of our children?
  • What are our favorite family Scripture passages? Why?
  • When is the best time to have family devotions? What might we do during these times?
  • Who should we keep in our prayers? How will we remember to pray for them?
  • How can we make birthday celebrations sacred moments?
  • What are some ways we can have fun together as a family?

ALIGN YOUR CONVERSATIONS

Just as any sport uses key words and phrases to describe what’s going on in the game, congregations need a common language that helps focus the efforts of their people. If a congregation chooses to work with Vibrant Faith Ministries, you can be pretty sure that some of the common language is going to be around the phrases related to our Five Principles:

  • Faith is formed by the power of the Holy Spirit through personal, trusted relationships—often in our own homes.
  • The church is a living partnership between the ministry of the congregation and the ministry of the home.
  • Where Christ is present in faith, the home is church, too.
  • Faith is caught more than it’s taught.
  • If we want Christian children and youth, then we need Christian adults.

You can expect to hear the following words and short phrases woven into our sermons, news articles, small group settings, and planning meetings:

  • Caring conversations, devotions, service, rituals and traditions (the Four Keys)
  • Do less, go deeper!
  • Theology matters.
  • You can’t expect households to practice faith at home unless they’ve first learned how to practice faith in the congregation.
  • Parents, grandparents, and godparents are the primary faith shapers of young people.
  • AAA Christians: people who are authentic, available, and affirming

CASE STUDY
I attended worship last year at a congregation in the Washington, D.C., area. I located it via Google and was impressed with their inviting home page. Then I discovered that most of the links to other pages and articles were inoperable. Upon arriving, I noticed a big welcome sign out front but I was hard-pressed to find appropriate signage directing me to the sanctuary. Entering the sanctuary, I observed the colorful “Welcome to Worship” message on the screen and found the pianist to be playing some delightful background music. Then I was handed a worship bulletin by someone who seemed more interested in checking her e-mails than making me feel welcome. As worship progressed, I found the sermon engaging and the eclectic blend of music delightful but other portions of the service bland and disjointed. Driving back to my hotel I couldn’t help but feel conflicted about what I now call my bipolar worship experience.

Four key learnings came out of this experience for me:

  • People experience rather than only read or hear about a congregation’s mission and values.
  • This experience of a congregation’s mission, vision, and values occurs before (website, signage), during (greeters, sermon, bulletin, music), and after (refreshments, take-home gift, greeters in the parking lot) the main event.
  • All aspects of the experience have to be in alignment or the congregation’s main message will suffer.
  • The overall experience has to be sufficiently life-changing that the visitor would be interested in coming back, and perhaps even bringing a friend.

AREAS OF MINISTRY THAT OFTEN NEED GREATER ALIGNMENT

The following are four ideas for generating a common vocabulary in your congregation.

1. Emphasize common language by creating a “Soul Script.” Begin by writing a one-page script that can be shared with every leader. It typically includes your mission statement, vision statement, core values, goals, key messages, and your congregational covenant (if you have one). People crave clarity, and good leaders provide clarity on a regular basis. If you can communicate those key items in a simple, clear, and consistent manner, people will start to remember them. Find ways to integrate your talking points into worship services, meetings, and other congregational events. Recite your mission statement during your weekly worship services. Read your script at all leadership meetings. Embed key talking points into your website and all publications. Pour your mission and vision into all your words and actions. When people start repeating your talking points to others you know that you’re making headway! A “Sample Soul Script,” Tool 22, can be found in the CHANGE Agent’s Toolkit.

2. Share the congregation’s Soul Script with new members and new leaders. Use new member gatherings and new leader training events to communicate your congregation’s DNA. Share stories of how the congregation lives out its DNA within and beyond the congregation. Walk through each key message or talking point and share stories and examples of how it is lived out, and invite participants to consider how they might align their words and actions with the congregation’s DNA.

3. Provide annual refresher trainings for all leaders based on the talking points Soul Script. Alignment of language will either increase or decrease based on how well people in your congregation consistently communicate the same messages. Provide council or session members, team members, teachers, and mentors with resources and tools for communicating the congregation’s DNA in their particular ministry settings. Provide multiple training opportunities and vehicles to ensure 100 percent participation in refresher trainings. In many congregations, the pastor is the only person who communicates these key points, and when the pastor accepts a new call, the mission, vision, values, and key message leave as well. This can be avoided when everyone is equipped to share the congregation’s key talking points.

4. Develop your way. Executives from around the world pay big bucks to attend Disney seminars on “the Disney Way”— learning how they do business, how they treat employees and their guests, and how they maintain their unique culture. For a time, Hewlett Packard was known for their egalitarian, decentralized culture, known as “the HP Way.” A congregation I once served modeled their ministry after the Simple Church movement where everything they did had to help people “connect with God, connect with each other, or connect to the needs of the community.” If it didn’t honor one or more of these three intentions, then it wasn’t part of this congregation’s way. Write down what your way would look like if it was infused into every individual and team. Consider creating a congregational covenant that would help capture the way for your congregation. Share the way by reading your covenant at all meetings and major events. A “Sample Leadership Covenant “ (Tool 23) is found in the CHANGE Agent’s Toolkit.

Language alignment is reinforced by what business consultant Tom Peters calls “management by walking around.” A pastor I coach practices walking-around management by regularly asking people questions, such as “Mary, in what ways do you see us fulfilling our mission?” or “Susan, what are your thoughts about our three main goals for this year?” or perhaps “Tom, which of our five core values are you most energized by?” The pastor states, “I get a weekly reality check about which messages are getting through to our people and what messages I need to pay more attention to in the future.”

Leaders ensure that the strategic direction of the congregation is clearly articulated and fully aligned with people’s experience of the congregation. These elements include the organization’s mission, vision, strategic plans, organizational goals, and strategies and the expectations of everyone involved. Congregations invest considerable amount of time, money, and effort developing strategic plans yet most do not use it on a regular basis to to guide ongoing decision-making and goals setting. The planning process helps leaders envision the future and become more proactive, but the end result—the plan—often ends up on a shelf in the church library where few people ever refer to it. The fault is often the document itself. Many of the plans I see are lengthy, cumbersome documents that are not organized in a way that facilitates easy implementation. Specifically, the plans do not

identify measurable goals, ones that you can easily determine have been achieved or have not been achieved. Include specific timelines for when the actions steps should be completed.

list the person or team members who will be held accountable for fulfilling the goal.

The plans I see often have a laundry list of strategies but lack focus as to which strategies are most important and which ones are to be addressed first. Sometimes the plans I see look more like notes from a brainstorming session than an action plan for living into God’s preferred future.

I’m a fan of clear, concisely written plans that limit each strategic initiative and their accompanying strategies to just a few pages. The action steps are in bullet form and arranged in chronological order by their anticipated completion date. The plans I create usually have a four-page executive report, which is made available to everyone in the congregation and provides all the necessary talking points for living into the vision. My hope for every congregation is that they would have a plan that would be used regularly to guide leadership conversations, set meeting agendas and inform decision making, dictate what people write and talk about, and serve as a measuring stick for ministry effectiveness.

It’s hard to develop a strategic plan without first identifying the core values of a congregation. There’s no shortage of ideas related to the values a congregation might wish to embrace. I’m particularly fond of the core values espoused by Robert Schnase, bishop of the Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church. In his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations he identifies the following core values:

  • Radical hospitality
  • Passionate worship
  • Intentional faith development
  • Risk-taking mission and service
  • Extravagant generosity

The values are clear, compelling, and contagious and easy-to-remember sound bites. They capture some of the core process by which God makes disciples:

Radical hospitality extends the gracious invitation, welcome, and hospitality of Christ, allowing people to experience a sense of belonging. Passionate worship ushers people into God’s presence and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, shapes souls and changes minds. Intentional faith development reminds people of the importance of growing deeper in faith and becoming intentional followers of Christ. Risk-taking mission and service moves people beyond the congregation’s walls and helps them discern God’s call and to be change agents for Christ every day, everywhere. Extravagant generosity inspires people to give generously and to be sources of hope, joy, and blessing to others. The words describe a shift from abstract intentions to practical and personal directions for ministry, charting a path for growth in personal discipleship. 

A trend Vibrant Faith Ministries team members are seeing in the congregations we work with has been the creation and use of congregational covenants. They are used to reinforce the congregation’s identity and are recited in multiple settings throughout the month, reminding people of how they are to treat one another as part of the body of Christ. Here is an example of one congregation’s covenant:

As a ministry team, we will

  • affirm, encourage, support, pray for, and bless one another and the ministries we represent.
  • appreciate and affirm each other’s gifts, backgrounds, and viewpoints.
  • arrive on time for meetings, fully present to address issues at hand.
  • speak well of each other to build up the body of Christ.
  • communicate with each other in honest, open Christlike ways.
  • commit to ongoing personal, professional, and spiritual growth.
  • honor each other’s individual pace and working style, and offer grace to one another.
  • be open to new ways of seeing and doing things.
  • strive to live in a culture of ongoing regard.

Become more nimble and adaptive by making your congregation’s policies, procedures, and practices more clear. Find ways to eliminate the lag time that occurs when making decisions or seeking approval. I often work with program staff that haven’t had a performance review for years and are unsure what they’re responsible for. Maintain an operations manual where all access codes, keys, payroll records, background check information, and legal contracts are kept in one place. Ask yourself the following question abut your procedures:

  • Do you have a current policies manual?
  • Do you have a current employee handbook?
  • Do have current job descriptions for employees?
  • Do the job descriptions reflect the priorities of the congregation and its mission?
  • Do you provide employees with a compensation summary letter each year?
  • Do you have a formal evaluation process for pastors and paid staff? For key volunteers?
  • Do paid and volunteer staff set annual goals? Are they held accountable for these goals?
  • Do programs and teams set goals and share them with others?

Put these tools and procedures in place, and you won’t have to spend time in the future fighting unnecessary fires.”

  1. Do you have a plan or process for inviting and welcoming people into your congregation?
  2. Do you have a plan or process for helping people form faith and become lifelong followers of Christ?

I find that if a congregation does not have a clear process for inviting people into its faith community and a plan for helping them become mature in Christ, the growth of the congregation will stagnate. Typically only one out of eight congregations has an adequate response to these two questions.

“If you want to change your congregation, change what you talk about.” Our conversations must be aligned with our mission. If you want your congregation to live into its mission, then make sure that your sermons, meeting agendas, programs, events, and publications all address how you’re fulfilling the mission. If you want to revitalize your congregation, spend time at council or session meetings talking about ideas and steps that lead to congregational vitality. Do your meeting agendas reflect your congregation’s commitment to primary purpose and preferred future? Most agendas are filled with committee reports and sections called “old business” and “new business.” They rarely have any connection to the congregation’s mission or strategic plan. Sometimes I challenge meeting conveners by saying, “Help me understand why you think this annual goal is important when nothing was said about it during your session meeting.” What gets measured gets done. What gets discussed gets traction. Be intentional about what you’re measuring and what you’re discussing. It will change your life and your congregation! To consider how you might plan future meetings differently, refer to the “Meaningful Meetings Checklist ” (Tool 23) found in the CHANGE Agent’s Toolkit. Meeting practices can make a huge difference in how transformation unfolds. Here are a few other practices that can easily be introduced to the congregation and reap profound results:

Recite your congregation’s mission, vision, and values during worship and at all meetings.

Set aside five to ten minutes for caring conversations during meetings and events.

Set aside three minutes at the end of all meetings and events to evaluate the time spent together.

Teach one new faith practice per month during worship or at a leadership meeting

Have leaders share how lives are being changed as a result of the ministries they oversee.

Capture and share one video clip of “what God is up to” in the lives of people in your congregation.

Provide monthly updates in the newsletter regarding progress being made on congregational goals.

Gather feedback from people in the congregation once a month related to how they’re growing in faith.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

This quote, widely attributed to Margaret Mead, reminds us of the influence a few, committed people can have on an organization. I have yet to find a revitalized congregation that didn’t have a multitude of “thoughtful, committed” AAA Christians aligned around a common vision and purpose. The process is similar to the flash mob videos on YouTube (check out the I Believe video). The alignment process starts with a key leader, like the lead pastor, and then it spreads to other staff, and then the governing council. Soon it is passed on to Sunday school teachers and mentors. Then a buzz about what’s happening starts. The “faith flash mob” continues to unfold: Some households start modeling the desired behaviors and telling their stories. Choirs start talking about it and begin living the vision. Before you know it, the new vision has moved beyond a few individuals to being mainstream, affecting the majority of people in the congregation. The people who are initially involved must believe they can make a difference and that their efforts will have a ripple effect on their congregation.

There is certainly no shortage of books and Bible verses that describe the qualities of a good leader. I’ve discovered, however, that a few essential leadership qualities are often overlooked. When I’m looking for the individuals who can create the energy that arises out of a flash mob mentality, I’m specifically looking for leaders who are

  • nimble and adaptive. They are willing to try new things in new ways and are okay with failing if it leads to new insights about themselves or their organization. They are open to the Spirit working in their life, molding their ministry. They view life and faith as an adventure.
  • comfortable with chaos and conflict. These individuals understand that ministry is messy and that chaos is part of the transformation process. They’re okay with not having to control everything and not having a ready answer. They understand that people can agree to disagree agreeably and, therefore, are willing to speak their truth in grace-filled ways, realizing that others may have different and equally valid viewpoints.
  • willing to be held accountable and to hold others accountable. They live out of their commitments rather than their excuses, refusing to play the role of a victim. They expect others to hold them accountable for the promises they make, and they will hold others accountable for the commitments they agree to.

A common challenge congregations face is the need for reducing ministry silos and learning how to collaborate more intentionally with other leaders to achieve common goals. This assumes that congregational leaders set collective goals, take time to explore how each person can contribute to the fulfillment of each goal, and then hold each other accountable for fulfilling their portion of the goals.

Achieving common goals depends on individual commitments. I suggest that leadership teams limit their collective goals to no more than three to avoid diffusing their efforts. After collective goals have been set, they need to be reviewed at every meeting, with team members listing what their next step will be toward achieving each collective goal.

People’s next steps can be listed on an assignment log or incorporated into the next meeting agenda to make sure that they’re reviewed every time team members gather. Leadership team members play a very important role in driving accountability throughout the entire organization by ensuring that progress on collective goals is regularly reviewed, and that action is taken when team members fail to fulfill their next steps. Ideally, a team member’s contributions toward collective goals are woven into the annual performance review process to ensure accountability.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

  • In what ways are the actions of the pastors and lay leaders not aligned with the congregation’s mission, vision, values, and goals?
  • What steps might your congregation take to be more fully aligned, strategically (for example, in mission, vision, values, goals, structure, personnel)?
  • What are some of the words and phrases that should be part of your common language?
  • What procedures, practices, and processes do you need to tighten up or address?
  • What qualities do you look for in congregational leaders?
  • How does the congregation nurture these qualities in our current leaders?
  • What’s the next step for integrating your core values into your congregation?
  • What kind of alignment would you like to see in your life? Your household?

CHAPTER FOUR

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

—Matthew 6:21

Align:
Step 3 in Coaching Change

Ensuring that Structure, Language, and Resources
Support Desired Outcomes

I attended worship last year at a congregation in the Washington, D.C., area. I located it via Google and was impressed with their inviting home page. Then I discovered that most of the links to other pages and articles were inoperable. Upon arriving, I noticed a big welcome sign out front but I was hard-pressed to find appropriate signage directing me to the sanctuary. Entering the sanctuary, I observed the colorful “Welcome to Worship” message on the screen and found the pianist to be playing some delightful background music. Then I was handed a worship bulletin by someone who seemed more interested in checking her e-mails than making me feel welcome. As worship progressed, I found the sermon engaging and the eclectic blend of music delightful but other portions of the service bland and disjointed. Driving back to my hotel I couldn’t help but feel conflicted about what I now call my bipolar worship experience. Four key learnings came out of this experience for me:

People experience rather than only read or hear about a congregation’s mission and values.

This experience of a congregation’s mission, vision, and values occurs before (website, signage), during (greeters, sermon, bulletin, music), and after (refreshments, take-home gift, greeters in the parking lot) the main event.

All aspects of the experience have to be in alignment or the congregation’s main message will suffer.

The overall experience has to be sufficiently life-changing that the visitor would be interested in coming back, and perhaps even bringing a friend.

Alignment, the third step in the process of coaching CHANGE in congregations, is that optimal state in which the experience of mission, vision, values, strategies, people, products, and processes all work in concert to fulfill the mission, providing a life-changing experience for everyone involved. Aligned congregations — from the lead pastor to the new member— understand not only the strategy and goals of the organization but also how his or her work contributes to them. Everyone can articulate what the congregation is about and has his or her own elevator speech about the congregation. It culminates in an experience that exemplifies the DNA of the congregation. For people to experience the essence, or DNA, of your congregation, the following areas must be aligned in a manner that supports the fulfillment of the congregation’s mission, vision, and values:

Structure, strategies, and goals help fulfill the ends (mission, vision, and values) of the organization

Language

Processes

Practices

People

Commitments

Alignment of Strategy

Leaders must ensure that the strategic direction of the congregation is clearly articulated and fully aligned with people’s experience of the congregation. These elements include the organization’s mission, vision, strategic plans, organizational goals, and strategies and the expectations of everyone involved. A congregation I work with had invested a considerable amount of time, money, and effort developing a new strategic plan. When I asked to see the plan, not a single leader had a copy of it at their meeting and it quickly became apparent that the plan was not being used regularly to frame their conversations, evaluate their progress, or inform their decisions. Unfortunately, this is often the case for congregations that create a strategic plan. The planning process helps leaders envision the future and become more proactive, but the end result—the plan—often ends up on a shelf in the church library where few people ever refer to it. The fault is often the document itself. Many of the plans I see are lengthy, cumbersome documents that are not organized in a way that facilitates easy implementation. Specifically, the plans do not

identify measurable goals, ones that you can easily determine have been achieved or have not been achieved. Include specific timelines for when the actions steps should be completed.

list the person or team members who will be held accountable for fulfilling the goal.

The plans I see often have a laundry list of strategies but lack focus as to which strategies are most important and which ones are to be addressed first. Sometimes the plans I see look more like notes from a brainstorming session than an action plan for living into God’s preferred future.

I’m a fan of clear, concisely written plans that limit each strategic initiative and their accompanying strategies to just a few pages. The action steps are in bullet form and arranged in chronological order by their anticipated completion date. The plans I create usually have a four-page executive report, which is made available to everyone in the congregation and provides all the necessary talking points for living into the vision. My hope for every congregation is that they would have a plan that would be used regularly to guide leadership conversations, set meeting agendas and inform decision making, dictate what people write and talk about, and serve as a measuring stick for ministry effectiveness.

It’s hard to develop a strategic plan without first identifying the core values of a congregation. There’s no shortage of ideas related to the values a congregation might wish to embrace. I’m particularly fond of the core values espoused by Robert Schnase, bishop of the Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church. In his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations he identifies the following core values:

Radical hospitality

Passionate worship

Intentional faith development

Risk-taking mission and service

Extravagant generosity

I believe that people are searching for congregations shaped and sustained by these qualities, which can serve as both core values and congregational practices. The values are clear, compelling, and contagious and easy-to-remember sound bites.

These core values also capture some of the core process by which God makes disciples:

Radical hospitality extends the gracious invitation, welcome, and hospitality of Christ, allowing people to experience a sense of belonging.

Passionate worship ushers people into God’s presence and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, shapes souls and changes minds.

Intentional faith development reminds people of the importance of growing deeper in faith and becoming intentional followers of Christ.

Risk-taking mission and service moves people beyond the congregation’s walls and helps them discern God’s call and to be change agents for Christ every day, everywhere.

Extravagant generosity inspires people to give generously and to be sources of hope, joy, and blessing to others.

The words describe a shift from abstract intentions to practical and personal directions for ministry, charting a path for growth in personal discipleship. Below is a list of core values from Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Fairfax/Clifton, Virginia. The church is in the process of deeply embedding these values into everything it does:

Sample Core Values

Christ-Centered Worship and Programs: We reflect the word of God in all our ministries that are lived out faithfully through the fellowship of our community of Christian believers.

Lifelong Faith Formation: We equip and nurture all ages in the principles, practices, and experiences in the Christian faith that are inherent in leading a fulfilled and faithful life of discipleship.

Serving Our Neighbor: We embrace the stewardship of time, talents, and financial resources to serve local, national, and global opportunities.

Hospitality: We strive to be an inclusive community where all are welcome, cared for, and challenged to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.

Courageous Risk Taking: We seek ways to make the gospel relevant to the culture in which we live. We are willing to explore new frontiers of ministry to capture God’s work among us.

For more assistance in identifying core values and assessing them, consider completing “What Are Your Ministry Rocks?” found in the CHANGE Agent’s Toolkit (Tool 19). To ensure that you deeply embed your core values into all aspects of your congregation, complete Tool 21, “Integrating Your Core Values.”

A trend Vibrant Faith Ministries team members are seeing in the congregations we work with has been the creation and use of congregational covenants. They are used to reinforce the congregation’s identity and are recited in multiple settings throughout the month, reminding people of how they are to treat one another as part of the body of Christ. Here is an example of one congregation’s covenant:

As a ministry team, we will

affirm, encourage, support, pray for, and bless one another and the ministries we represent.

appreciate and affirm each other’s gifts, backgrounds, and viewpoints.

arrive on time for meetings, fully present to address issues at hand.

speak well of each other to build up the body of Christ.

communicate with each other in honest, open Christlike ways.

commit to ongoing personal, professional, and spiritual growth.

honor each other’s individual pace and working style, and offer grace to one another.

be open to new ways of seeing and doing things.

strive to live in a culture of ongoing regard.

Alignment of Language

Just as any sport uses key words and phrases to describe what’s going on in the game, congregations need a common language that helps focus the efforts of their people. If a congregation chooses to work with Vibrant Faith Ministries, you can be pretty sure that some of the common language is going to be around the phrases related to our Five Principles:

Faith is formed by the power of the Holy Spirit through personal, trusted relationships—often in our own homes.

The church is a living partnership between the ministry of the congregation and the ministry of the home.

Where Christ is present in faith, the home is church, too.

Faith is caught more than it’s taught.

If we want Christian children and youth, then we need Christian adults.

You can expect to hear the following words and short phrases woven into our sermons, news articles, small group settings, and planning meetings:

Caring conversations, devotions, service, rituals and traditions (the Four Keys)

Do less, go deeper!

Theology matters.

You can’t expect households to practice faith at home unless they’ve first learned how to practice faith in the congregation.

Parents, grandparents, and godparents are the primary faith shapers of young people.

AAA Christians: people who are authentic, available, and affirming

A congregation’s common language must draw people’s attention to its mission, vision, and values. It should remind people of the primary principles and practices
that lead to the fulfillment of the mission. One of the first steps in the alignment process is to develop a common language around faith formation, mission, vision, and values. Listed below are four steps to create a common vocabulary for your congregation:

Creating a Common Congregational Vocabulary

The following are four ideas for generating a common vocabulary in your congregation.

1. Emphasize common language by creating a “Soul Script.” Begin by writing a one-page script that can be shared with every leader. It typically includes your mission statement, vision statement, core values, goals, key messages, and your congregational covenant (if you have one). People crave clarity, and good leaders provide clarity on a regular basis. If you can communicate those key items in a simple, clear, and consistent manner, people will start to remember them. Find ways to integrate your talking points into worship services, meetings, and other congregational events. Recite your mission statement during your weekly worship services. Read your script at all leadership meetings. Embed key talking points into your website and all publications. Pour your mission and vision into all your words and actions. When people start repeating your talking points to others you know that you’re making headway! A “Sample Soul Script,” Tool 22, can be found in the CHANGE Agent’s Toolkit.

2. Share the congregation’s Soul Script with new members and new leaders. Use new member gatherings and new leader training events to communicate your congregation’s DNA. Share stories of how the congregation lives out its DNA within and beyond the congregation. Walk through each key message or talking point and share stories and examples of how it is lived out, and invite participants to consider how they might align their words and actions with the congregation’s DNA.

3. Provide annual refresher trainings for all leaders based on the talking points Soul Script. Alignment of language will either increase or decrease based on how well people in your congregation consistently communicate the same messages. Provide council or session members, team members, teachers, and mentors with resources and tools for communicating the congregation’s DNA in their particular ministry settings. Provide multiple training opportunities and vehicles to ensure 100 percent participation in refresher trainings. In many congregations, the pastor is the only person who communicates these key points, and when the pastor accepts a new call, the mission, vision, values, and key message leave as well. This can be avoided when everyone is equipped to share the congregation’s key talking points.

4. Develop your way. Executives from around the world pay big bucks to attend Disney seminars on “the Disney Way”— learning how they do business, how they treat employees and their guests, and how they maintain their unique culture. For a time, Hewlett Packard was known for their egalitarian, decentralized culture, known as “the HP Way.” A congregation I once served modeled their ministry after the Simple Church movement where everything they did had to help people “connect with God, connect with each other, or connect to the needs of the community.” If it didn’t honor one or more of these three intentions, then it wasn’t part of this congregation’s way. Write down what your way would look like if it was infused into every individual and team. Consider creating a congregational covenant that would help capture the way for your congregation. Share the way by reading your covenant at all meetings and major events. A “Sample Leadership Covenant “ (Tool 23) is found in the CHANGE Agent’s Toolkit.

Language alignment is reinforced by what business consultant Tom Peters calls “management by walking around.” A pastor I coach practices walking-around management by regularly asking people questions, such as “Mary, in what ways do you see us fulfilling our mission?” or “Susan, what are your thoughts about our three main goals for this year?” or perhaps “Tom, which of our five core values are you most energized by?” The pastor states, “I get a weekly reality check about which messages are getting through to our people and what messages I need to pay more attention to in the future.”

Developing a CHANGE Script

In many coaching situations, Vibrant Faith Ministries also helps congregations create a CHANGE script that provides a narrative for managing the transition that will occur as a result of implementing the needed changes. This narrative must address the following questions:

What’s the purpose for making these changes?

What’s the picture of what this will look like and feel like for people?

What’s the plan for getting there?

What’s the part each person will play in the change process?

What’s the process for dealing with the tension of change?

Alignment of Processes

Congregations become much more nimble and adaptive when the congregation’s policies, procedures, and practices are clear. I once served a congregation where it took the leaders nine months to find out whether I had continuing education funds. I often work with program staff that haven’t had a performance review for years and are unsure what they’re responsible for. One congregation went through a particularly rough time when their administrator died of a heart attack. Staff members and leaders quickly realized that nobody knew where he kept access codes, keys, payroll records, background check information, and legal contracts. It cost the congregation huge amounts of time, energy, and resources to get back up to speed, and it derailed their efforts to address more pressing matters related to their mission. Listed below are some of the questions I ask congregations about their operational procedures:

Do you have a current policies manual?

Do you have a current employee handbook?

Do have current job descriptions for employees?

Do the job descriptions reflect the priorities of the congregation and its mission?

Do you provide employees with a compensation summary letter each year?

Do you have a formal evaluation process for pastors and paid staff? For key volunteers?

Do paid and volunteer staff set annual goals? Are they held accountable for these goals?

Do programs and teams set goals and share them with others?

Leaders are always surprised when I ask them about these details. I usually remark, “If you have these tools and procedures in place, we won’t have to spend any time in the future fighting unnecessary fires.”

The two most important process questions I focus on are these:

Do you have a plan or process for inviting and welcoming people into your congregation?

Do you have a plan or process for helping people form faith and become lifelong followers of Christ?

I find that if a congregation does not have a clear process for inviting people into its faith community and a plan for helping them become mature in Christ, the growth of the congregation will stagnate. Typically only one out of eight congregations has an adequate response to these two questions.

Alignment of Practices

At Vibrant Faith Ministries training events, we tell people, “If you want to change your congregation, change what you talk about.” Our conversations must be aligned with our mission. Therefore, if you want your congregation to live into its mission, then make sure that your sermons, meeting agendas, programs, events, and publications all address how you’re fulfilling the mission. If you want to revitalize your congregation, spend time at council or session meetings talking about ideas and steps that lead to congregational vitality. I can usually tell how committed a congregation is to their mission or a particular project simply by looking at their meeting agendas. Most agendas are filled with committee reports and sections called “old business” and “new business.” The last two categories are usually filled with whatever items people want to talk about. They rarely have any connection to the congregation’s mission or strategic plan. Sometimes I challenge meeting conveners by saying, “Help me understand why you think this annual goal is important when nothing was said about it during your session meeting.” What gets measured gets done. What gets discussed gets traction. Be intentional about what you’re measuring and what you’re discussing. It will change your life and your congregation! To consider how you might plan future meetings differently, refer to the “Meaningful Meetings Checklist ” (Tool 23) found in the CHANGE Agent’s Toolkit. Meeting practices can make a huge difference in how transformation unfolds. Here are a few other practices that can easily be introduced to the congregation and reap profound results:

Recite your congregation’s mission, vision, and values during worship and at all meetings.

Set aside five to ten minutes for caring conversations during meetings and events.

Set aside three minutes at the end of all meetings and events to evaluate the time spent together.

Teach one new faith practice per month during worship or at a leadership meeting

Have leaders share how lives are being changed as a result of the ministries they oversee.

Capture and share one video clip of “what God is up to” in the lives of people in your congregation.

Provide monthly updates in the newsletter regarding progress being made on congregational goals.

Gather feedback from people in the congregation once a month related to how they’re growing in faith.

Alignment of People

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This quote, widely attributed to Margaret Mead, reminds us of the influence a few, committed people can have on an organization. I have yet to find a revitalized congregation that didn’t have a multitude of “thoughtful, committed” AAA Christians aligned around a common vision and purpose. The process is similar to the flash mob videos on YouTube (check out the I Believe video). The alignment process starts with a key leader, like the lead pastor, and then it spreads to other staff, and then the governing council. Soon it is passed on to Sunday school teachers and mentors. Then a buzz about what’s happening starts. The “faith flash mob” continues to unfold: Some households start modeling the desired behaviors and telling their stories. Choirs start talking about it and begin living the vision. Before you know it, the new vision has moved beyond a few individuals to being mainstream, affecting the majority of people in the congregation. The people who are initially involved must believe they can make a difference and that their efforts will have a ripple effect on their congregation.

There is certainly no shortage of books and Bible verses that describe the qualities of a good leader. I’ve discovered, however, that a few essential leadership qualities are often overlooked. When I’m looking for the individuals who can create the energy that arises out of a flash mob mentality, I’m specifically looking for leaders who are

nimble and adaptive. They are willing to try new things in new ways and are okay with failing if it leads to new insights about themselves or their organization. They are open to the Spirit working in their life, molding their ministry. They view life and faith as an adventure.

comfortable with chaos and conflict. These individuals understand that ministry is messy and that chaos is part of the transformation process. They’re okay with not having to control everything and not having a ready answer. They understand that people can agree to disagree agreeably and, therefore, are willing to speak their truth in grace-filled ways, realizing that others may have different and equally valid viewpoints.

willing to be held accountable and to hold others accountable. They live out of their commitments rather than their excuses, refusing to play the role of a victim. They expect others to hold them accountable for the promises they make, and they will hold others accountable for the commitments they agree to.

Alignment of Commitments

A common challenge congregations face is the need for reducing ministry silos and learning how to collaborate more intentionally with other leaders to achieve common goals. This assumes that congregational leaders set collective goals, take time to explore how each person can contribute to the fulfillment of each goal, and then hold each other accountable for fulfilling their portion of the goals. Achieving common goals depends on individual commitments. I suggest that leadership teams limit their collective goals to no more than three to avoid diffusing their efforts. After collective goals have been set, they need to be reviewed at every meeting, with team members listing what their next step will be toward achieving each collective goal. People’s next steps can be listed on an assignment log or incorporated into the next meeting agenda to make sure that they’re reviewed every time team members gather. Leadership team members play a very important role in driving accountability throughout the entire organization by ensuring that progress on collective goals is regularly reviewed, and that action is taken when team members fail to fulfill their next steps. Ideally, a team member’s contributions toward collective goals are woven into the annual performance review process to ensure accountability.

Deep Change

Alignment is sustained when congregations “go deep” in their change efforts. A congregation I worked with had as one of its goals to become known for extravagant hospitality. Its plan for enhancing hospitality only focused on training ushers and greeters and providing better signage around the building. These were good places to start but only scratched the surface in creating a memorable experience of hospitality for visitors. Their members needed to go deep by evaluating how well their website provided a visitor-friendly experience. They needed to go deep by rethinking the color schemes of their building; the type of coffee and refreshments they served; and how one might be treated if visiting other portions of the building. They needed go deep by rethinking how hospitality would be experienced in small group settings and how accessible staff were on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. They needed to consider how to make worship an engaging and transformative experience and how to make the worship bulletins more user-friendly. They needed to go deep by considering what they hoped a visitor would experience after the worship service and after the person returned home. Whatever your congregation’s core values are, go deep by considering how that value might permeate every program and point of contact for people. (If you haven’t already completed Tool 21, “Integrating Core Values,” please do so now for each of your stated core values.)

You can also encourage households to go deep in areas such as practicing faith at home. When my own family made a commitment to be more intentional about practicing faith every day, everywhere, we created a one-page summary of what that would look like for our family based on our responses to the following questions:

What prayers and caring conversations might we have at the dinner table?

What books, topics, or questions might we discuss in the car?

What might our bedtime routine look like?

In what ways could we serve each other better?

What community service projects should we participate in this year?

When can we have the grandparents share their life and faith stories with our kids?

How can we more fully involve godparents in the faith lives of our children?

What are our favorite family Scripture passages? Why?

When is the best time to have family devotions? What might we do during these times?

Who should we keep in our prayers? How will we remember to pray for them?

How can we make birthday celebrations sacred moments?

What are some ways we can have fun together as a family?

The most successful leaders are those who are congruent and fully aligned within themselves and with their congregation. There is simply no substitute for total alignment and congruency within a leader. When this is multiplied throughout an organization, the power is undeniable. What’s your plan for helping individuals and teams become more fully aligned with the congregation’s mission? As this alignment takes shape, the results will be tangible and transformative!

• • •

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

In what ways are the actions of the pastors and lay leaders not aligned with the congregation’s mission, vision, values, and goals?

What steps might your congregation take to be more fully aligned, strategically (for example, in mission, vision, values, goals, structure, personnel)?

What are some of the words and phrases that should be part of your common language?

What procedures, practices, and processes do you need to tighten up or address?

What qualities do you look for in congregational leaders?

How does the congregation nurture these qualities in our current leaders?

What’s the next step for integrating your core values into your congregation?

What kind of alignment would you like to see in your life? Your household?

• • •

Every organization has a culture, which either works for you or against you — and it can make the difference between success and failure. Managing the organizational culture so that leaders, managers, team members and employees think and act in the manner necessary to achieve desired results has never mattered more. Doing it well is not an option; it’s a necessity.  Healthy cultures create healthy and enduring outcomes. Toxic cultures poison employees and suck the life out of and organization’s vitality and vision. Optimizing the culture should command your attention every bit as much as your effort to achieve performance improvements in every organizational discipline.   Managing the culture so that it produces the results you are looking for has become an essential role of leadership and a core management competency.
Eight words that define your church is culture.
We often referred to culture as the way we do things around here, but what exactly does that mean? I’d like to suggest some words some descriptive words that further flesh out what it means to have a culture.
  1. Vision. Culture isn’t completely understood without a clear vision. Vision is a future oriented picture of what your organization sees our wants to be it you are unique organizational fingerprint that describes God’s preferred future. Most churches underestimate the importance of vision. They often come up with tag lines that are catchy and memorable yet lack convection.  Take time to evaluate the passion and conviction that’s behind your vision.  People follow leaders with vision. Without vision your church will drift and appear to be aimless.
  2. Values. Values are one of the greatest influences in culture. Values tell us what the church considers to be important above everything else. Values are the internal rules of the game. Values drive behaviors and should informed decision-making and programs. A good way to identify your current values is “our church does blank because we value blank. In the first blank, what any program strategy or behavior your church practices. In the second blank what the value that’s driving whatever you wrote in the first blank. The first blank describes what you do. This second blank describes why you do it. The Y is related to your core values. Examples include we mentor teenagers because we value the next generation. We produce the highest quality worship service because we value excellence. I give a percentage of my income to charities because I value generosity. They stated values describe how your church currently behaves.
  3.  Philosophy. Every leader has a philosophy that guides his or her decision-making. Philosophy is tied to deeply held beliefs, history, assumptions, values, education, attitudes, or preferred practices. For example, there are dozens of ministry philosophies practiced by churches today. Some of these philosophies have labels such as purpose driven, seeker sensitive common, urgent, mission oh, multi site, or sell church.  There are also different leadership philosophies such as servant leadership, transformational leadership, team leadership, collaborative leadership, laissez-faire laser ship,. When a leader is unclear about his or her philosophy, personally or organizationally, the consequences is employee conflict. If you want to understand your church is culture, consider the philosophies you hold and how they shape what you do.
  4. Traditions. Every organization has traditions, even organizations that are just a few years old. You are traditions become your norms. Traditions are the rituals and routines that you normalize and celebrate in your organization.  Innovation, creativity, risk-taking, and bold vision can be the norm of your organization. Staff with courage, character, cop at dance, and aggressive personal growth posture can be your norm. The key is to be on purpose about which traditions are allowed into the normalcy of your culture. Here’s an important question to consider: can you describe, in writing, what your traditions are, and how they shape normal and your church is culture? Share information about as a rule.
  5. Language. Words frame culture. Every word you speak has benefits and baggage. Every word conjures a different emotional reaction – some life-giving some life draining for each person is different. The language you choose death find your organization’s culture in the minds of the people you lead and the people you serve. Bill Heibel’s observes, that leaders rise and fall by the language they use. Organizations organizations coin taglines and models and statements all because they understand that language matters. If you want to understand your culture, make a list of the words and phrases that you and your team through around most often. Consider what baggage or benefits those words carry. Consider what they mean to you and your members at large.
  6. Systems. Systems are the gears rotating under your churches HUD that treat results for everyone to see. Churches need to have systems for inviting people into the congregation, for discipling them as mature followers of Christ, for helping them discover develop and apply their gifts, and sending them out in service to the world. And addition we need systems for assimilating gas, communicating with teams, hiring staff, mentoring T-ball, managing facilities, raising money, and measuring results.,
  7. Measurements. Every organization measure something – attendance, donations, testimonies, life change, projects completed, etc. whatever you choose to measure in your church will do two things: it will reveal your culture and will re-enforce your culture. They’re real question is this: what measurements will create a healthy culture aligned with your vision and values? In cards and games and sports there’s always a some form of a scorecard. How do we keep score?. We must align our measurements with our math that’s parentheses what you do and your mission parentheses why you exist. As you consider your congregations culture, consider what you measure, NY you measure it.
  8. Behaviors. You can shout your vision from the rooftops and deliver your core values with inspiring speeches yet develop a culture disconnected from your aspirations. How? By behaving in a way that’s inconsistent with what you say. Culture follows behavior and perpetuates behavior. It shapes how we act and how we react. The behaviors that matter most are the behaviors of the churches leaders, beginning with the pastor. A Lieders behaviors shape the behaviors of team members directly and indirectly. First, leadership behavior directly by how they personally interact with people on their team. When they treat employees are volunteers with respect, dignity, honesty, and compassion, they empower those team members to do the same without theirs.  Leaders also shape behavior indirectly by the systems they create in the organization. System shape behavior and behavior shapes culture. When creating systems, leaders should ask themselves, how will my decisions about this system shape my teams effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement?
These eight words provide powerful context and definition for culture. The more you understand them, the more you’ll understand the kind of culture you’re creating in your church. As you read each word, you may have experienced mixed emotions about the reality and your environment. It doesn’t have to stay that way. Imagine how different things could be 12 months from today?

Creating a Culture of Accountability
Without accountability, the change process breaks down quickly. When it does, people externalize the need to change, resist initiatives designed to move them forward and even sabotage efforts to transform the organization. With accountability, people at every level of the organization embrace their role in facilitating the change and demonstrate the ownership needed for making true progress, both for themselves and their organization. Accountability, done the right way, produces greater transparency and openness, enhanced teamwork and trust, effective communication and dialogue, thorough execution and follow-through, sharper clarity and a tighter focus on results. Accountability must be a strong thread that runs through the complex fabric of any organization. It is one of the biggest issue confronting organizations today, particularly those engaged in church-wide change efforts. At the end of the day, greater accountability produces greater results.
There are three essential components of organizational culture — experiences, beliefs and actions — work in harmony with each other to achieve results. Experiences foster beliefs, beliefs influence actions, and actions produce results.
A clear line separates accountable and non-accountable behavior and thinking. Above the line are the Steps to Accountability, to See It, Own It, Solve It and Do It.
Below the line is the all-too-familiar blame game and victim cycle. The Steps to Accountability lead to Above the Line actions and thinking. The blame game, however, results in Below the Line actions and thinking. As you might imagine, when individuals consistently engage in these two very different modes of thinking and acting, they create different organizational cultures, which perform at strikingly different levels. The
Steps to Accountability
A Culture of Accountability exists when people in every corner of the organization make the personal choice to take the Steps to Accountability:
  1. See It. When you See It, you relentlessly obtain the perspectives of others, communicate openly and candidly, ask for and offer feedback and hear the hard things that allow you to see reality.
  2. Own It. When you Own It, you align yourself with the mission and priorities of the organization and accept them as your own.
  3. Solve It. When you take this step, you constantly ask the question “What else can I do?” to achieve results, overcome obstacles and make progress.
  4. Do It. This means doing what you say you will do, focusing on top priorities, staying Above the Line by not blaming others and sustaining an environment of trust.
 
Defining the Results that Guide the Change
  1. Building a Culture of Accountability begins at the top of the Results Pyramid. That’s why the first step involves clearly stating the R2 results you want to achieve. Frankly, it makes no sense to initiate any culture building activity or process unless you intend to increase the capability of the organization to deliver results.
  2. The most compelling reason to work on your culture? Culture produces results. When it comes to changing your culture, you must determine to get everyone in the organization acting differently and taking actions each and every day. Clearly, you need to do more than just get people acting differently; you need to get them doing the right thing at the right time in a way that produces results. You cannot accomplish a successful cultural transition without that sort of targeted, directed and focused change. The single most important change in actions that needs to occur during a time of cultural transition is the shift to greater accountability. Accountability, done effectively, is a skill you can develop just like any other skill, and while it is not a difficult skill to acquire and hone, it does require a high degree of conscious effort. When you do it right, you’ll also find it the fastest way to improve morale.
  3. Creating a clear picture of what your preferred future looks like in terms of what people need to do differently is a key to accelerating change. Doing this collaboratively in an environment of heightened personal accountability speeds up the process and provides the foundation that will ensure a successful journey. Abandoning the sole reliance on traditional and ineffective change practices, focusing instead on approaches that truly engage the work force in embracing personal change, greatly enhances the prospects for success. But we need to make one point perfectly clear: Nothing, absolutely nothing, gets people to change the way they act faster than getting them to change the way they think. When you work only results and actions, you limit your ability to accelerate change. Beliefs, more than anything else, will motivate necessary behavioral shifts, so you must help people adopt the beliefs that will yield the actions needed to produce desired results.
  4. Identifying the Beliefs that Generate the Right Actions.  There is a simple yet powerful relationship between the beliefs people within the organization hold and the actions they take. Their beliefs about how work should get done directly affects what they do. If you change people’s beliefs about how they should do their daily work and help them adopt the new beliefs you want them to hold, you will produce the actions you want them to take. When leaders work with this deeper, more lasting aspect of behavior, they tap into the most fundamental accelerator of effective culture change. Culture change involves getting people to adopt beliefs about “how things are done around here.” An organization’s Cultural Beliefs statement describes its Culture of Accountability. A Culture of Accountability is a culture in which people take accountability to think and act in the manner necessary to achieve the needed result. Creating clarity around the key Cultural Beliefs that need to shift will help accelerate the transition to a new culture and increase the likelihood of delivering desired results. Providing Experiences that Instill the Right Beliefs The Experiences that form the foundation of the Results Pyramid drive accelerated culture change. Whether you realize it or not, you provide experiences for everyone around you every day. Each interaction you have with others in the organization creates an experience that either fosters or undermines desired beliefs. Quite simply, the experiences you provide create the beliefs people hold.
Many leaders find that early in their change efforts, the experiences they create fail to influence prevailing beliefs in the way they had hoped they would. To avoid that happening to you, take these four principles to heart:
  1. People work to validate rather than invalidate their current beliefs by filtering new experiences through the lens of their current beliefs. We call this selective interpretation.
  2. People often cling to old beliefs and only reluctantly surrender them, falling prey to what we refer to as belief bias. As with selective interpretation, people are generally unaware that they are doing this.
  3. People frequently fail to take accountability for the beliefs they form, choosing instead to see those beliefs as natural and logical conclusions based upon their experiences.
  4. Because the beliefs people hold do not readily change, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. In some cases, experiences can actually backfire, inspiring beliefs exactly opposite of those you sought to instill.
Accelerating the transition to a Culture of Accountability will occur only when you learn the importance of interpreting the experiences you create. In fact, everything depends on it.
 

The Four Steps
There are four important steps you can take to ensure that you provide experiences that will create beliefs. Skip a step, and you will likely find yourself, at some point, creating experiences that reinforce the old culture you want to change. These steps will help you create the right experience the first time and help you correct your approach whenever you discover that your effort is not influencing people’s thinking the way you hoped it would.
  1. Plan It. While you will find plenty of opportunities to create experiences spontaneously, you must also, and more importantly, learn to plan E2 experiences in advance, both as a team and by yourself.
  2. Provide It. Follow your plan and provide the experience. Your efforts must be sincere attempts to provide genuine experiences that signal real change.
  3. Ask About It. If you don’t check in, you will not know if you have hit the mark. Don’t get defensive. Be curious and listen to what people really think. Get as much input as you can from as many people as you can. Don’t ask leading questions that bias what people say.
  4. Interpret It. Act on the feedback that you received and take the extra steps necessary to interpret the experience you provided in such a way that people form the desired B2 beliefs. Building the Pyramid Taking accountability to live the Cultural Beliefs and creating the E2 experiences needed to foster and promote them does more than anything else to accelerate culture change.

INTEGRATE  BEST PRACTICES TO ACCELERATE THE CULTURE CHANGE
Success in speeding up the culture change will only come when everyone’s actions, beliefs and experiences are aligned from person to person and across the various functions of the company. The more completely aligned the culture, the more everyone will concentrate on achieving  results. Effective leaders of culture change manage in ways that get a culture aligned with results, and then they work to keep it aligned. Getting Aligned Around Alignment Using the Results Pyramid as a reference point, here is a definition of alignment that applies to every effort to change culture: Alignment is common beliefs and concerted action in collective pursuit of a clear result. This definition refers to lining up the parts of the Results Pyramid (Results, Actions, Beliefs, Experiences) so that all of the parts are positioned in relation to the R2 results you want to achieve. When all the parts are aligned and everyone is moving in the same direction, you get accelerated culture change; everyone stays on the same page, people feel less stressed, decision making occurs more efficiently and almost everything speeds up. During the Culture of Accountability Process, the speed of the culture change will directly correspond to the level of alignment you create and maintain around R2 and the Cultural Beliefs. The Case for Change A critical mass of people who take ownership for the change process will produce enough alignment and positive momentum to keep the change effort energized and moving forward. Because the early adopters are important to the success of the overall effort, you should concentrate on cultivating and nurturing them. To initiate this cultural chain reaction, you must make a compelling Case for Change. Everyone wants to understand the basic rationale for R2. The Case for Change addresses the why behind R2, providing the context for why we need to change the culture and why we need to do it now. The more compelling the Case for Change, the more likely you will forge the ownership and buy-in you need. The most compelling Case for Change always incorporates these best practices: 1. Make it real. 2. Make it applicable to your audience. 3. Make it simple and repeatable. 4. Make it convincing. 5. Make it a dialogue. The Leadership Alignment Process The Leadership Alignment Process consists of six key elements that help ensure that real alignment is achieved: Step One: Participation — Get the appropriate people involved. Step Two: Accountability — Identify who will make the decision. Step Three: Discussion — Ensure that people speak up and are heard. Step Four: Ownership — Promote the decision as your own. Step Five: Communication — Be consistent with the message. Step Six: Follow-Up — Check in and test for alignment. Alignment is a process, not an event. It is something you must constantly work to achieve. Applying the Three Culture Management Tools Now that you understand how to create alignment for using the Results Pyramid to build a game-changing culture, you can start applying the three essential Culture Management Tools that will accelerate the change effort: Focused Feedback, Focused Storytelling and Focused Recognition. These tools will help you integrate the Cultural Beliefs into your organization’s culture and speed it toward C2 and your desired R2 results. These tools are designed to help you deal with a C1 culture’s strong resistance to change. • The Focused Feedback Tool. Constructive Focused Feedback offers positive and candid suggestions and guidance on what else people can do to demonstrate the B2 beliefs more fully. This type of feedback is critical to helping people succeed in the new C2 culture because it helps them know what they can improve in a timely way. A lack of constructive Focused Feedback will cause every culture-change effort to stall and eventually die out. • The Focused Storytelling Tool. While Focused Feedback accelerates change, organizations can pick up the pace of the transition even more when they add Focused Storytelling to the mix of Culture Management Tools. People tell stories every day throughout the organization. These stories simply describe people’s experiences and convey their beliefs about what is important and how work should be done in the organization. Do you know what stories people in your organization tell each other? What beliefs do those stories drive? What stories do you tell to others? These stories move the organization either toward C2 or back to C1. If you want to speed up the journey to a C2 culture, then you must identify and tell C2 stories. • The Focused Recognition Tool. We all know that people sometimes “fall down” while learning to live the Cultural Beliefs. Acknowledging the step forward with recognition, in spite of the fall, will speed up the culture change effort. Focused Recognition, like storytelling and feedback, must center on the Cultural Beliefs.
Mastering the Three Culture Change Leadership Skills Culture change always requires leaders to become proficient in the skills needed to lead the transition effort. Without a concerted effort at the top of the organization to develop greater proficiency with the skills needed to lead the culture change, leaders frequently slow down the process and make the change effort less efficient and less successful. Developing these skills will accelerate the cultural transition while enhancing leadership capability in every other endeavor. The three culture change leadership skills every leader will need if they want to move the culture from C1 to C2 are: the skill to Lead the Change, the skill to Respond to Feedback and the skill to Be Facilitative. These three leadership skills are essential to ensuring that the culture change effort stays on track and achieves R2. 1. The Skill to Lead the Change. Culture change must be led. You cannot delegate the initiative to Human Resources, Organizational Development or anyone else. While these and other organizational functions play important roles, the senior leadership team simply must maintain ownership of the process and lead the culture change at every level of the organization, ensuring that the change effort is prioritized correctly at the top of every management team agenda. To bring about the C2 culture and R2 results, leaders must take personal ownership of the implementation of cultural transition best practices throughout the organization. 2. The Skill to Respond to Feedback. When people see leaders reinforcing B2 beliefs, everyone gets the message that “I ought to be doing that too.” When you receive feedback that you have created an experience that is inconsistent with the Cultural Beliefs, you can use the Methodology for Changing Beliefs to get people looking for evidence of your true alignment and your deep desire to embody the new culture. Here are the methodology’s five steps: Step One: Identify the belief you need to change. Step Two: Tell them the belief you want them to hold. Step Three: Describe the experience you’re going to create for them. Step Four: Ask them for feedback on the planned experience. Step Five: Enroll them in giving you feedback on your progress. 3. The Skill to Be Facilitative. It usually takes some effort to become thoroughly facilitative in your communication style — an important culture change leadership skill. Getting everyone to engage in a meaningful dialogue about what needs to change and making sure that conversation occurs at every level of the organization is essential to accelerating culture change. Lasting culture change always requires collaboration, teamwork and dialogue. Your ability as an organizational leader to ask questions, seek input, create dialogue and get people talking about the right topics will speed up the adoption of C2 beliefs. Integrating the Culture Change Leading culture change means working ceaselessly to implement and integrate. Each activity enhances and then mutually reinforces the other. Implementation sets up integration and integration sustains implementation. They go hand in hand. Integration is not about convening additional meetings, creating a longer list of things to do or lengthening the workday. On the contrary, when you integrate the Culture Management Tools into the organization, you insert them into carefully selected, already existing meetings and activities. It bears repeating: Integration means integrating the tools into the current organizational processes, procedures and systems. When done correctly, integration weaves the Cultural Transition Process seamlessly into the way things are done in the organization. If you do it poorly, people end up feeling that you have just added another burdensome program to the many they already need to implement.
The Three Steps to Effective Integration
Successful integration of best practices into the culture change process depends on effectively applying each of the following three distinct steps. Taking these steps sequentially will allow you to spot the best opportunities for making integration happen in a way that optimizes your effort and minimizes distractions.
Step One: Identify the Opportunities for Integration into Meetings. Integration is most effectively accomplished within intact teams. While the opportunities for integration will differ from team to team, your initial list of opportunities should include all of the different meetings the team currently holds, including one-on-ones.
There are four important steps you can take to ensure that you provide experiences that will create beliefs. Skip a step, and you will likely find yourself, at some point, creating experiences that reinforce the old culture you want to change. These steps will help you create the right experience the first time and help you correct your approach whenever you discover that your effort is not influencing people’s thinking the way you hoped it would.
Step Two: Identify Opportunities for Integration into Systems. Integrating change into the organizational systems includes evaluating the policies and procedures of the organization, as well as both the formal and informal application of those systems.
Step Three: Make Your Integration Plan. This plan should specifically capture what you are going to do to integrate the best practices into the activities you have selected. In order to achieve transformational change, you will need to adopt the right process for enrolling everyone in the organization in the change effort.

Five principles should guide you as you design engagement into the change Process:
  1. Start with accountability. Accountability for R2 should always begin with clearly defined results. Without it you will not move the organization forward and enroll people in providing the effort needed to change your culture.
  2. Get people ready for the change. Your culture will not change unless you get everyone in the organization enrolled in making the change happen. You should expend every effort to get people ready for the change by persuading and convincing them of the merits of the change and by getting them involved in the process.
  3. Begin with the relative top and intact teams. Relative top means that regardless of where you initiate the culture change process –– in a team, a division, a function, a subsidiary, a country affiliate or the entire organization –– you must begin the process at the top of that organization to be most effective. Culture change begins in the context of intact teams. Establishing peer-to-peer accountability within these teams is essential to building the right foundation for the culture change effort.
  4. Establish a process control and keep it honest. To be most effective, you should adopt agreed-upon process controls at both the individual and team level. Common process controls include: embedding the language of the tools and models, tracking progress toward R2 results and establishing milestones for process implementation and integration. The enrollment process must be designed to help everyone avoid the trap of just “going through the motions.” It should keep everyone honest in the way they apply the Culture Management Tools and C2 best practices.
  5. Design for maximum involvement and creativity. Cultural change is a highly collaborative effort and requires the engagement of everyone at every level as co-creators of the culture.
 

Final Thoughts
Culture change can provide the differentiator that brings game changing results to any organization. The game is no longer just about optimizing current performance; it’s about transforming organizational results. Game changing, transformational results can and do come from well-executed culture changing initiatives.
When you change the culture, you change the game, and with that new game comes the desired results that shape and define success for your organization. When you approach culture in the manner described here, culture change raises the spirit of the entire organization and energizes everyone involved to make the change successful. With the combination of accountability and the application of  best practices, you will accelerate the change in your culture and achieve the results you seek.