Issue No. 65 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights wisdom written 20 years ago. Max DePree wrote in 1987 that the management team’s job “is to provide an environment that allows momentum to gather.” Mention that at your weekly staff meeting and ask for feedback. And this reminder: to scan the mini-reviews of more than 60 books, visit the archives here.
The Tendency to Deteriorate
Max DePree’s simple, but profound leadership primer was published 20 years ago—and it has never been equaled. Read it and you’ll marvel at the insights—like in his five-page chapter, “Pink Ice in the Urinal.” Few CEOs before him and hardly anyone after him have so eloquently discussed the tendency of organizations to deteriorate like in the pink ice chapter. To order from Amazon, click the title here: Leadership Is an Art.
Both Peter Drucker and Time Magazine used the word “elegant” when describing DePree’s 17 short, poignant chapters. Even the chapter titles are memorable: Theory Fastball, Tribal Storytelling, Some Thoughts for CEOs Who Build Buildings, and Why Should I Weep?
DePree was chairman and CEO of Herman Miller, Inc. (the office furniture manufacturer). He wrote that a financial analyst once asked him, “What is one of the most difficult things that you personally need to work on?” DePree’s answer: “The interception of entropy.”
“One of the important things leaders need to learn is to recognize the signals of impending deterioration.” He kept a list and observed that leaders, especially in large organizations, fail to see the signs of entropy, including: 1) a tendency toward superficiality; 2) no longer having time for celebration and ritual; 3) a growing feeling that rewards and goals are the same thing; 4) when people stop telling tribal stories or cannot understand them; and 5) when problem-makers outnumber problem-solvers. His list was longer—but you get the idea.
The pink ice in the urinal? It was a team member’s odd suggestion for dressing up the men’s room for their VIP visitors. “Despite the good intentions behind this idea,” DePree commented that the team member was signaling a clear deterioration in thinking and strategizing. The pink ice in the urinal would have little effect on the VIPs—so why bother? Focus on the strategic, not the cosmetic.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
#1. Do you agree that organizations have the tendency to deteriorate? Why or why not?
#2. What might be some of the signals of entropy and deterioration in our organization? (Look up the definition of entropy at www.dictionary.com.)
The Donor Bucket: Monday Night Phone Calls - Insights from the Management Buckets Workshop Experience
The Donor Bucket in this decade has become increasing complex—and the old rules often don’t apply. Yet the basics are still basic. Bread and butter. Blocking and tackling. Asking and thanking. And phoning.
A ministry leader this week told me that he works until 9 p.m. every Monday night (not some Monday nights—every Monday night) and calls donors. He thanks them and asks them for their continuing financial report.
According to Dale Berkey’s and Doug Brendel’s book, The Disappearing Donor: Where Your Ministry’s Lapsed Givers Went, and Why, “evangelical donors give to 10 ministries over a two-year period.” The daily discipline—the weekly discipline—of staying in touch with donors will make an impact. It’s quite likely that the other nine organizations don’t make Monday night phone calls a priority.
NEXT STEPS: I can help you integrate these leadership and management tips and best practices into your unique setting and help you assess your competencies in the 20 management buckets. Email me at John@JohnPearsonAssociates.com or visit my website at www.JohnPearsonAssociates.com.
To bring a one-day or two-day Management Buckets Workshop Experience to your organization or city, call our office at 949/500-0334. Ditto for the six-hour Nonprofit Board Governance Workshop for board members and senior leaders.