Embedding Innovation at the Core of Your Organization Part 2 ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Embedding Innovation at the Core of Your Organization Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote how Whirlpool re-organized itself around innovation as a core competency and successfully created a constant "innovation pipeline." Today, I want to focus on what their innovation techniques could mean for congregations. Here is part 2 of 3 of some thoughts on innovation and congregation.

Innovation and Tradition
A picture of Pisgah Baptist Church in Four Oak...Image via Wikipedia
There's a great discussion about the relationship between innovation and tradition among contemporary church leaders. Is change-orientation a legitimate aspect of congregational ministry?

In my research on evangelicals, I've found that many see innovation is not an inconvenient "extra" to ministry but actively developed as a core competency in their churches. I will write about that here and in my final post in this three-part series.

Principles for Creating an Innovation Pipeline

Taking principles derived from the experience of Whirlpool, today I am taking the freedom to re-invent them to apply to congregations.

In a bit of speculation, here are a few guidelines. First, begin creating an "church innovation pipeline":

  • InnovationImage via Wikipediapublicly solicit every member to contribute toward church innovations;
  • include in every "new member class" a segment that ties the mission of the congregation to an ongoing process of innovation;
  • create periodic events for volunteers and lay leaders that 1) articulates goals for the congregation, and 2) invites the congregation to re-think people, principles, and process;
  • reward people not just for "faithfulness" but also for "innovativeness";
  • create innovation communication portals (both face-to-face and online) that provide everyone in the congregation a common forum for learning and discussing principles of innovation;
  • keep up with recent research on congregations and their negotiation of social change and distribute that knowledge widely;
  • track the progress of ideas from concept toward realization; and
  • encourage members and leaders to volunteer to work on one another's projects.
Next, once you have a flow of ideas champion ideas that met three criteria:
  1. Who does it serve? It benefits the new (visitors and new members), the needy, and/or the not-yet-connected.
  2. Will it survive? It is sustainable over time, including multiplying "leaders" and other people responsible for the project over time.
  3. What does it contribute to the culture? It inspires established members toward the shared mission of the congregation.

Finally, identify "Innovation Mentors" (more than just the Lead Pastor) from the congregation who volunteer to facilitate the innovation cycle throughout the congregation.

Stay Tuned for Part 3 of this Series

On Feb 1st, I will post the last of this series, Embedding Innovation at the Core of Your Organization Part 3. The final part in the series will draw on a case study -- describing how innovation principles are found in one, innovative congregation.

This second post should be also read with the previous one, titled Embedding Innovation at the Core of Your Organization Part 1.

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