Catalytic Quotes: Part 7 (Andy Stanley)

Andy Stanley was, in my opinion, the best presenter of the entire Catalyst conference.

His teaching on systems was great. The title of his session was “Liberating Your Organization: Creating a Leadership-Friendly Culture.”

A few “quotables” and then I’ll give the main points of his teaching:

  • “God created and runs the universe through systems.”
  • “If you don’t approach problems systematically, you’ll blame people for problems that systems create.”
  • “80% of your problems are not people problems; they are systems problems, because systems create behaviors.”
  • “The mission statement is hanging on the wall. The systems are happening down the hall.”
  • “Churches that are led by ‘we’ typically end up with dysfunctional systems.”
  • “Part of the hard work of diligent leadership is systems analysis.”
  • “Vision needs systems.”

Some teaching points of Andy’s session:

  • Systems are your organization’s approach to getting things done. (In other words, systems answer the question, “How do we get this done?”)
  • Systems create behaviors. Andy said, “Talks don’t create behaviors. Cool environments don’t create behaviors. Systems create behaviors.”
  • “The systems you inherit, adopt, or create will eventually impact what staff and volunteers do.”
  • Five components of a system:
  • Expectations (rules) – what do we expect our people to do? How do we expect them to act?
  • Rewards (or lack of) – how do we intentionally affirm behaviors that are aligned with our expectations?
  • Consequences (or lack of) – what happens when people fail to meet the organizational expectations or the expectations of their particular role?
  • Communication (content and style) – how do we communicate our expectations, the purpose for those expectations (i.e. our mission and vision), and the rewards/consequences? Who knows what, when, and how and what behaviors are expected as a result of knowing?
  • Behaviors (of those in charge) – are the leaders modeling the organizational values? Are their behaviors consistent with the organizational expectations?
  • “If a leader casts a new vision and never addresses old systems, nothing changes.”
  • Four system imperatives:
  • Your system should allow you to involve and hire the best person for the job.
  • You system should allow you to get the right people to the table.
  • Your system should allow you to make complex decisions within the context of a small group of empowered people.
  • Your system should ensure that only one person answers to “They.” (That person should, in most cases, be the top leader.)

I’ve been talking with a lot of pastors/leaders  lately about the place and value of systems. I’ll post what I’m learning later, but for now I’ll say that Andy’s talk is confirming a lot of good and right principles relative to systems… particularly within the church.

(Check out Tim Steven’s summary of Andy’s talk)

(Check out Rindy’s take on systems)

4 thoughts on “Catalytic Quotes: Part 7 (Andy Stanley)

  1. * “If a leader casts a new vision and never addresses old systems, nothing changes.”

    Oh my, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!!!! Can you tell I’m been a part of the opposite of the above? These are great. I’m a system kind of gal for the most part. Still struggling with developing a system to clean my house. I suppose I have one. I just don’t like to use it! Maybe I need more of those incentives!

    What I don’t see listed and maybe its addressed elsewhere, is the need for systems that allow flexibility and context especially when dealing with people. For example, if following the system is going to kill your people, get a new system, not new people.

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