How to create organizational systems and processes (4 of 6)

Systems. In order to determine the systems you need, a couple of things are necessary:

  1. You must be clear about the vision of the organization.
  2. You must be clear about the activities the organization must engage in to effectively achieve its goal.

Systems genius, Nelson Searcy, has identified eight systems that are at work in the church (download his report here). For what it’s worth, I have learned a ton from Nelson’s work, have incorporated much of his thinking into my own, and highly recommend his work. Working with Nelson’s eight, I have identified a total of thirteen systems within the local church and have divided them into two categories: Operational and Strategic.

Operational = those things that must happen but which will not necessarily advance your organization’s vision (e.g. paying the bills, cleaning the building). There are four operational systems:

  1. Leadership = what is the leadership structure in your organization?
  2. Financial = how does your organization manage the finances?
  3. Communication = how does your organization communicate internally and externally?
  4. Facilities = how is your facility managed?

Strategic = these are the systems that when working together will move you closer to achieving your goals. There are nine strategic systems. Keep in mind that in this article, I am writing about the church:

  1. Marketing = how do you let people know “we’re here!”?
  2. Weekend = how do you prepare for and present the weekend experience?
  3. Evangelism = how do you help people find Jesus and teach them to help others find Jesus?
  4. Assimilation = how do you engage people in your church?
  5. Discipleship = how do you facilitate spiritual growth and healthy, vision-oriented community?
  6. Volunteers = how do you connect people to fulfilling, vision-oriented service?
  7. Stewardship = how do you help people develop a lifestyle of generosity?
  8. Leadership = how do you identify, recruit, train, and engage leaders?
  9. Strategic evaluation = how do you assure that your systems are doing what they were created to do and are doing it in synergy with each other?

Now that we’ve identified the 13 systems within the local church, the question becomes, “How do you put together a system?”

Four steps  + one bonus to creating a system:

#1 Begin with the end in mind. Andy Stanley would say, “Clarify the win.” In other words, how will you know your assimilation system is working? I would suggest that your assimilation system is working if people are serving and giving! Why? Because people aren’t going to give to or serve in an organization to which they’re not committed! For every system you create, ask yourself, “How will we know if it’s working?”

#2 Start where you are and take baby steps to where you want to be. This is where processes come alive! If your marketing system is working, people will show up. Then you want them to come back (assimilation system). What needs to happen for that to take place? Do you need to get some follow up information? Do you need to invite them to a special event? Do you need to have a service worth coming back for? Do you need to give them a gift? There’s a ton of ways to get them to come back, the question is “What’s your way to accomplish the goal of your system?”

#3 Ask “Who?”. Ahhhh… so important! It doesn’t matter how much “what” there is, if there’s no “who” there’ll be a lot of “so what?” and too much “no what” You must assign a manager to every system and a name to every process! I highly recommend that you read chapter fourteen from E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber as you work through this process! By the way, that entire book is a “must-read” for any organizational leader!

#4 The most important piece… write it down! I’ve stressed this multiple times but it’s a point that bears repeating! It doesn’t matter how basic your process is, write it down! Once it’s written it can be improved, until then you spend all of your energy trying to remember “how we did it last time!”

BONUS: the purpose of your “Strategic Evaluation” system is to regularly review your systems to see if they are working! Do it! Patrick Lencioni in his book, Death by Meeting, suggests a quarterly “strategic meeting.” This would be a wonderful time for you to evaluate your systems and processes!

So how do you do it? Clarify your goal, create your steps, assign a person to each step, document the process, evaluate the results, revise the system!

Now go get started!

In case you’ve missed the first part of this series:

  1. Three Reasons You Need Organizational Systems
  2. What Are Organizational Systems & Processes?
  3. Organizational Systems and Processes Are Biblical

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