3 principles for creating organizational systems (5 of 6)

There are three principles that you must keep in mind as you develop your systems and processes.

Keep it Simple – or it won’t happen.

Too much “to-do” is like a pile of poo-poo… no one wants anything to do with it! If your system is going to work effectively, it must be simple. Create a system/process where average people can create produce exceptional results!

Don’t assume anything! Document every step (process), but don’t overcomplicate the system in the process! When I was raising support as a church planter I wrote out a process (part of my fundraising system) for the monthly newsletter that I sent to our supporters. I had one wonderful lady who helped me with this process and we did it the same way every time. How? I had written out a fourteen step process:

  1. Write the letter
  2. Have the letter proofread
  3. Print the letter
  4. Fold the letter so that when they open it they are looking at the top of page one.
  5. Print the address labels (Connection Partners)
  6. Print the return address labels (Paul Peterson)
  7. Print the Commitment Card
  8. Cut the Commitment Card
  9. Put the Commitment Card in the small envelopes
  10. Put the return address labels on the small envelopes
  11. Put the stuffed, small envelopes & the letter in the larger envelope
  12. Put the Address labels on the larger envelopes (both sender and receiver labels)
  13. Seal the larger envelopes
  14. Mail the larger envelopes

You say, “That’s ridiculous!” I thought so too… until I begin to spend stupid amounts of time each month making sure I had “dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s.” Once I wrote the process out I saved myself and my helper a lot of valuable time!

Make it Scalable – or you’ll end up fighting.

This is a big one! Once you establish a “way of doing things” it’s going to develop a fan base. When you need to revise your system/process because it’s worked so well, that fan base will likely reject your proposal to change the way you do it! For instance, let’s say that as part of your marketing system you serve breakfast to your whole church when there are only 20 people coming. That’s a great idea, until you grow! What happens when you have 200 there for breakfast? 2,000? Is it likely that you’ll be able to sustain that practice? Not very. In my mind, this is not a scalable system (though this guy may prove me wrong).

When you are creating a system with processes, ask yourself, “Is what we’re doing now scalable?” One more example. I have seen churches dismiss the children halfway through the service to go to “children’s church.” That’s fine when there are 25 kids and one service. What happens though when you’ve got 200 kids and a second service? This practice is not scalable. Again, when you’re creating your system/process, ask yourself, “Can we do this when we grow?”

CAVEAT: there will be exceptions to this principle, but they should be just that… exceptions.

Think Reproducible – so you can pass it on.

In this age of multi-service and multi-site church, this is an important principle. Michael Gerber refers to this idea as “franchising.” Essentially you create a system/process that gives as “little operating discretion as possible.” Some will call this “micro-management.” Some will call this Starbucks. A venti Americano tastes the same in Cincinnati as it does in Atlanta! Why? A reproducible process that guarantees the same result every time!

It is possible for someone to have virtually the same experience at your 9:30 service as they would at your 11:00 service… if you have created and implemented simple, scalable, reproducible systems! (Keep in mind here that I am talking only of the “organizational” side of the church. I do not presume upon God to “act” the same way in every service. But if things go as planned it will be a similar experience in either the early or the late service.)

Certainly there will be some logistical issues that you’ll need to address (e.g. attendance, parking, etc.) but at the end of the day “reproducible” is a reality that can be achieved by your organization. Just follow the steps for creating a system/process and pass that paper on to your next service, site, or church plant!

So there it is! Keep your “way of doing things” simple, scalable, and reproducible and you’ll be well on your way to having systems/processes that move you closer to achieving your vision!

(Tomorrow, a list of resources for helping you think through each of these systems).

Have you missed out on the earlier posts in this series? Check them out here:

  1. 3 Reasons You Need Organizational Systems
  2. What Are Organizational Systems and Processes?
  3. Organizational Systems and Processes Are Biblical
  4. How to Create Organizational Systems and Processes

One thought on “3 principles for creating organizational systems (5 of 6)

  1. I am hoping we prove you wrong.

    http://FreeBreakfastChurch.com has been a HUGE success for us man. I’m honestly not thinking about scalable systems and could care less about that right now.

    When we do what we do @ The Courageous Church, we are often flying by the seat of our pants and hoping that God will show us ways to sustain our efforts. What you are saying is very corporate and very American, but it’s not the Biblical mandate for all of us. Maybe God told Noah to create a gazillion steps when building the Arc, but Jesus did not appear to be debating the notion of scalable systems when he fed thousands.

    However, before we launched our http://FreeBreakfastChurch.com we learned that Barefoot Church in Myrtle Beach has been doing a FREE BREAKFAST for years and now have thousands of people attending.

    I like systems as much as the next guy, but I won’t let them dictate what we do and how do what we do.

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