Issue No. 222 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting delivers a true story with insights on how to look behind the pages for a unique story angle in your organization. Plus, I’ve included an expanded color commentary on the Strategy Bucket and how to avoid decline in your organization. And this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Finding Your Unique Story Angle
It’s summer here in North America—so I’m always looking for “lighter” reading, hopefully with some redeeming leadership and management insights.
I found one! Maurice Possley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has taken co-author John Woodbridge’s story and fashioned a fascinating true story line about Hitler, a young singer/sax player/solder, an influential pastor, in-the-trenches WWII battles (the kind that create legends and heroes), new information on the German resistance movement, and a gold-plated pistol with links to the Fuehrer himself.
I could be biased because I’ve met Possley multiple times and thoroughly enjoyed his 2001 book, a true account, Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder and the Price of Truth, with co-author Rick Kogan.
Possley won a Pulitzer in 2008 for Investigative Reporting at the Chicago Tribune. He has now applied those same instincts and street smarts to this remarkable true story, Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI’s Story of Courage and Faith. Blend Possley with co-author John Woodbridge’s experience as Research Professor of Church History and Christian Thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, visiting prof at Northwestern University and the University of Paris, France, and you have the makings of a historically accurate, WWII page-turner.
I was struck with the story line—and the creativity of it. The authors threaded this true account around every twist and turn with both skill and drama. Some organizations, I’ve noticed, take an absolutely amazing story line of God at work and then dumb it down to unimaginable nothingness. Boring. Bored. Clunk!
Not this story! It’s historical—with new stuff. Inspirational—with disappointment and death. Separation—but with life-breathing love letters. Maturity and humility—perhaps softened by sadness. And the stunning beauty and impact of integrity—growing the fruits of faithfulness, generation after generation. Oh…and then there’s the pistol.
The story line: ingenious. The redeeming insight: maybe the form will rub off on your organization as you strategize how to tell your story in more compelling ways.
To order this book from Amazon, click on the graphic below for Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI’s Story of Courage and Faith, by John Woodbridge and Maurice Possley.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Books like Peace Child, Born Again, God’s Smuggler, the Cross and the Switchblade, The Hole in Our Gospel and others have been used by God to alert people to movements and ministries. What book, about a movement or ministry, has impacted you?
2) Let’s brainstorm some story lines and storyboards about God at work in our organization—that could possibly be turned into a short or long book that would make a compelling read.
BHAD: Big Horrendous Avoidable Decline - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Strategy Bucket, Chapter 3, in Mastering the Management Buckets is to leverage the vision and BHAG (your Big Holy Audacious Goal) to coalesce and energize your team. The opposite of a BHAG is a BHAD, a Big Horrendous Avoidable Decline (my phrase).
Without a clear and sustainable target on the wall—decline often sets in. According to Matt Welch, in his recent Wall Street Journal review of James O’Shea’s book, The Deal From Hell, on the “calamitous” merger of the Chicago Tribune Co. and the Times Mirror Co. in 2000, “Few human activities are less dignified than trying to manage decline.”
Jim Collins, however, says that decline can be avoided, detected and reversed. “Organizational decline is largely self-inflicted, and recovery largely within our control.” He says you must first recognize the signs of decline and in his insightful book, How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In, he labels the first stage as “Hubris Born of Success.”
I was thinking about decline and hubris this week as the headlines in Southern California continue to report on the challenges faced by the Crystal Cathedral’s bankruptcy, church board turmoil and succession plan flops. I’m not close to the situation and my tendency is to always extend grace. But it appears that Robert H. Schuller, the 84-year-old founder who is still active with the church, has self-inflicted the church and broadcast ministry with its own BHAD: Big Horrendous Avoidable Decline.
Decline could have been avoided with less hubris, more accountability and a succession plan blessed by an independent board. ECFA membership would have ensured that the church had a majority of independent board members who were not family or staff. (Click here to view the commentary on ECFA’s governance standard.)
An independent board would have heeded the caution of author and governance guru Ram Charan who writes, “There is nothing more important for a CEO than having the right strategy and right set of goals. And for the board, the right strategy is second only to having the right CEO.”
All of this is part of strategic thinking and planning. For more resources from the Strategy Bucket, including Worksheet #3.2: "The 7 Reasons Why Strategic Plans Fail," from my Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Workshop, visit the Strategy Bucket webpage.
July 21, 2011 (Thursday) – Webinar: Your Church’s Core Values – Get the Plaque Off the Wall and Into the Drinking Water! (hosted by Cornerstone Church Network)
Aug. 23, 2011 (Tuesday) – Webinar: 3 Core Competencies for God-honoring Church Governance with Steve Macchia and Dan Busby (hosted by ECFA)
Sept. 8, 2011 (Thursday) – Webinar: Goal Alignment—The Missing Link in Leadership Effectiveness (hosted by The Mission Exchange)
Sept. 23, 2011 (Tuesday) – Webinar: 3 Core Competencies for Nonprofit Ministry Governance with Steve Macchia and Dan Busby (hosted by ECFA)
Sept. 17, 2011 (Saturday) – Nonprofit Board Governance Workshop (hosted by Town and Country Manor, Santa Ana, Calif.)
Sept. 27-28, 2011 (Tues. & Wed.) – Mastering the Management Buckets Workshop Experience, (Orange County, Calif.)
Oct. 6, 2011 (Thursday) – The Top-10 Hiring Mistakes (Orange County, Calif.)
Oct. 7, 2011 (Friday) - Goal Alignment: How to Turbo-charge Your Organization by Focusing on S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Every Team Member, Board Member & Volunteer (Orange County, Calif.)
Oct. 20, 2011 (Thursday) - 9 Governance Essentials for Nonprofit Ministries Forum, with Steve Macchia and Dan Busby (sponsored by ECFA and hosted by Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo.)