Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Predictable Success

Les McKeown business consultant and author of Predictable Success: Getting Your Organisation On The Growth Track…And Keeping It, took a session at Rethink Leadership. It was also good to hear an accent from nearer home as Les originates from Northern Ireland.

Les described the seven stages of every organisation and church and the parts the various types of leaders plays.

Stage 1 - Struggle
  • You get to start something and you have struggle.
  • If you don’t have people, you don’t have a church.
  • The early struggle is dominated by a singular leadership style - one with vision, the Visionary. 
  • They’re not afraid to take risks. They get the big picture. They’re charismatic, steely, passionate. They’re often great communicators, have the gift of the gab.
  • Visionaries get uptight when they have to grind out the details.
  • To get out of early struggle, the Visionary hires an Operator, a ruthless finisher, and together they bring us to the next stage.
Stage 2 - Fun
  • The first growth stage is called Fun.
  • It is in the Fun stage when we build the myths and legends of the church. In the future looking back we will say "Remember when....?"
  • It's where the church is at its most organically evangelical.
  • When we have Fun we grow.
  • We make it up as we go along, do whatever we need to do. We snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
  • So we grow and get more complex. Then the complexity of running our church then overwhelms our ability to move forward.
  • The Visionary and Operator are then joined by a Processor. They create processes so you don’t have to reinvent them every week.
Stage 3 - Whitewater's
  • The complexity restricts us from doing things on the fly.
  • We have to rehearse music, pay royalties get a building now we need a caretaker.
  • A Processor creates much-needed systems to make stuff replicable. 
  • But Processors are risk averse and say ‘No” a lot.
  • For the good of the church, you need the Visionary, Operator and Processor to work together really well.
  • This is the stage where you first encounter difficulties as for the first time the visionary, operator & processor get conflict for the first time
Stage 4 - Predictable Success
  • This is the stage where we can scale but it is also the time where the three leadership styles clash.
  • They think it's a personality conflict that is causing the difficulty but what's required is getting the three types of leaders working together.
Stage 5 - Treadmill
  •  The treadmill is instead of Predictable Success, we are just predictable.
  • The main difficulty is a visionary - operator conflict. 
  • We start over emphasising process & become predictable & bureaucratic.
  • That's when the visionary says "I didn't start this for this".
  • If the visionary doesn't get heard the visionary will depart.
  • This is the long, slow ride into irrelevancy. With the visionary gone, we are left with operators and processors. They get things done but there’s no vision.
  • The operators then leave to start all over again.
  • Processors are then left making sure the empty services are starting on time.
  • You can only invoke change up to Treadmill.
Stage 6 - The Big Rut
  • With visionary gone, all we can do is make things happen
  • Then the operators leave because they need the visionary
  • Then we are left with processors making sure that the increasing empty services are starting on time
  • There’s no coming back from The Big Rut. You’ve lost the power to self-diagnose. You actually like it like this.
Stage 7 - Death
  • Then you then hit Death Rattle. This can take generations because you have built a lot of assets.
  • If you are in the Big Rut or Death Rattle, there’s no point staying.
Closing Thoughts
  • You want to choose to be in Fun (organic and deep in intensity but not looking to grow) or you can be looking to grow.
  • You often don’t have a choice which stage you find yourself in. You can fall into Whitewater BECAUSE you have grown.
  • In Fun the visionary leader can get to do whatever he wants. If you want Predictable Success, authority flattens out because you make team-based decisions to scale.
  • A bean counter is a Processor who has no ability to relate to the Visionary or Operator. 
  • A visionary leader in Predictable Success has to institutionalise your vision.
  • An extreme visionary becomes an arsonist, an extreme operator becomes a maverick and an extreme processor is left p*****g in the wind
  • You must not empower power without overall alignment. to your vision.
  • If your overarching vision isn't institutionalised, then you have competing heroes/leaders working against each other.
  • Processors want to hold you accountable to current success. When your people say, ‘Back in the day…’, you’re in Whitewater.
  • Visionaries know the need systems and processes but they think they need them for everyone else, except them.
  • In a group discussion, the visionary, operator & processor must put the interest of the enterprise ahead of their own.
  • Getting quality team-based decisions means invoking the enterprise commitment.
  • Many early churches fail because they run out of resources before they run out of vision. You’ve got to keep a focus on viability.
  • I’m all for trial and error, but when you get traction, you have to go through it.
  • Learn to build a muscle of being ruthlessly constructive creating high-quality team-based decisions.


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