A common complaint of recent decades, from both within and without the church, is that the church leadership culture is too corporate. Complainants say there is too much of an MBA aesthetic, as opposed to, say, some ideal of religious leadership that exudes a more Zen, ascetic, or monastic sensibility. Not me! I wish we took the MBA theme just a little bit further! Case study: a flyer for a Europe area “Sisters’ Meeting” featuring photos of three headline speakers, all of them male.
To my amateur anthropologist eye, this artifact suggests we are yet lacking in enough MBA culture in our church leadership. If we had true MBA chops, what would be happening right now is an emergency meeting convened by the highest levels of the church. A careful but very swift investigation would identify every individual, top to bottom, who had anything to do with organizing this broadcast and creating the flyer. They would all be flown to a central location and subjected to the following gauntlet of executive exercises:
- Post-It Notes and Whiteboards Brainstorm: Everyone who knows anything about organizational agility and success these days knows that Post-It notes and whiteboards are the secret sauce that unlocks your team’s creativity and general awesomeness:
[Organizations] encounter a messy problem and, desperate for a solution, send a team to the d.school. They learn to empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. They make key breakthroughs, develop prototypes they likely wouldn’t have back home, and in the process, become enamored with the ubiquitous whiteboards and Post-its. Then they go back, order their own whiteboards and Post-its, and follow the process as they learned it to try to institutionalize the magic they experienced here.
Some key thought questions for brainstorming: Why might people have found our flyer strange, and what is wrong with them? What other shade of pink might we have used to better convey that this is a meeting about how powerful and necessary women are?
- Ropes Course: There’s no better place to sharpen your leadership courage than a ropes course! With a ropes course, our leadership can get results like this:
Each session introduces new competencies in breakthrough execution and leadership, challenging leaders to go beyond their current ways of producing results. They continuously see their business through a fresh lens, unleashing their creativity as well as their willingness to question and alter how things have always been done.
Wow! Sold!! Seriously though, with those promised results, every single person in any way involved in the creation of this meeting and flyer should participate in this hootenanny for the high-powered! Imagine everyone’s surprise when, post zipline, in the trust-building time, when each person is supposed to voice a scary thought before falling backwards into their coworkers’ arms, someone whispers, “How is it possible that not one person in these meetings noticed that this flyer has really, really bad optics?”
- Improv Comedy: Another go-to tool for supersizing leadership performance in any organization is sending executives to an improv comedy centered team-building exercise. Through improv, your leaders can: “embrace uncertainty and exploit change as an opportunity. Today’s leaders must learn to react in the moment, at the top of their intelligence.” Improv is especially helpful in training your leaders to overcome fear of speaking up within the group when they notice something amiss, such as a “Sisters’ Meeting” flyer with an all-male speaker photo lineup.
- Six-Sigma Black Belt: With black belt training, leaders will karate-chop bad ideas right out of the organization! Or at least they’ll be able to knock un-self-aware types upside the head with a well-aimed kick. Teamwork!
The bloggernacle is famous for having an overabundance of lawyers, but I bet we have a fair number of MBAs as well. I invite you to contribute your ideas to the discussion: How can we best synergize our core competencies to get buy-in and empower our team to move the needle and grow our scalable cloud infrastructure? How can we inject voices into the organization who would prevent us from doing things like this?
 According to Jessica Moody, responding to questions about the flyer, “the list of speakers for the meeting has not been finalized” and there will in fact be women speaking at the event.