Friday, March 03, 2006

CHANGE: "Coping With Disconnectedness"

This is the last in the series of posts pertaining to a review of John C. Hillary's 1990-1991 article "Paradigm Change: More Magic than Logic." Today's post will focus on a section of his article entitled, "COPING WITH DISCONNECTEDNESS."

The thoughts in this section of Hillary's article are particularly comparable to the 6-part series by Chuck McAlister posted at entitled "How to transition an established church." This is because McAlister recommends that, as an eventual necessary step in the overall "transition" process, a pastor must actually re-locate the church and change its name. (See 3/1/06 Herescope for full urls of this article series).

Hillary states:

"Planned second order change is a traumatic experience for an organization. It is equivalent to being taken from the psychosocial comfort of an established and stable home, passing through a period of homelessness, and reestablishing comfort and stability in a place where the fundamental rules, roles, and relationships are radically different." [emphasis added]

This paragraph above bears an uncanny correspondence to the "transition" process that McAlister describes.

Hillary continues the graphic analogy:

"Persuading people to let go of the 'old way of doing business' is one issue. Enabling them to survive the period of 'homelessness' is even more challenging. . . . It is . . . imperative that leaders of planned second order change support people as they individually and collectively 'let go' of the way it has always been and open themselves up to the chaos that must precede a return to new stability. This support must be equal in quality to the support that was provided by the old context. If not, the memory of the old order will seduce people back. This is a time for leaders to be gardeners, not mechanics."

Hillary lists five major points for leaders:

1. "Teach people about the second order change process. . . . Learning about second order change should be one of the first lessons encountered by the 'community of learners.'" [McAlister says, "Communicate Your Vision Regularly."]

2. "Apply strong, consistent, centralized, and trusted leadership. . . . Delegation and 'empowerment' should come later when a transition plan is needed to alter and refine core processes." [McAlister's Part 5 deals with this topic -- note the tight new centralization of leadership.]

3. "Use the top of the decision making system as a mechanism to communicate commitment and instill confidence. The decision making apparatus must be used to clear up ambiguity and confusion not add to it. . . . Decision making is a pwoerful opportunity to be symbolic." [See McAlister's Part 4, which changes the worship style of the church. This change is not only "symbolic," but it also opens the door to total "transformation" of doctrine.]

4. "Don't spend too much time in the space between the way it was and the way it is going to be. You risk institutionalizing disconnectedness and norming ambiguity. This amplifies the challenge and increases the complexity of change manifold." [McAlister tells pastors in Part 1 to "Stay Put" and "Refuse To Abandon Your Process."]

5. "Don't hesitate to play the role of leader as healer and social therapist. During second order change, people need personal and professional support. . . . Organizational transformation is a psychosocial phenomenon. It is enabled by leadership that is more therapeutic than strategic." [The entire phenomena of a "transformed" church relies on this relational aspect, including the new "in-home community groups."]

The Truth:

Although we "picked on" Chuck McAlister's 6-part "how to transition" series to make the points in Herescope series, there are many, many other writings about "how to transition" for church leaders located across the Internet and in popular books. Some writings come directly from leadership training entities. Others come from mission agencies, and various parachurch organizations. The same model is employed by all. The Hillary article was particularly exceptional to review because it used a more blatant and forthright manner to describe the mechanics of Change and Transformation.

We were able to utilize the John C. Hillary education reform article because the model for "transformation" is the same in every "sphere" of society. This is a planned, intentional global-scale change of culture, mission/purpose and organizational paradigm. The "transformation" of a local church may not seem that significant, but it is happening across the world. This article series was especially written at the request of a pastor in Africa who wanted to understand more about "change agents" for "transformation" which is coming into his country via American/global leadership training entities.

"For I am the Lord, I change not;. . . " (Malachi 3:6a)