If I’ve learned anything being a dad of two girls (Emma, 10, and Lilly, 6), it’s that there are clear phases in life. I’ve seen my daughters grow from infants who are completely helpless, to competent young ladies who can make toast for themselves in the morning. I wish this was the last phase of their development and growth, but something tells me things are going to change drastically in the next phase coming (Please pray for me!).
Organizations also have lifecycles and stages, just like we do. As we lead our organization through phases, it’s critical that we know when to pull the trigger and make a change. I had the privilege of serving at a great church in Texas — The Oaks Fellowship. My Senior Pastor, Scott Wilson, led our church through a significant change from a traditional-style church to a more modern expression. He wrote a book called, “Leading Through Chaos,” where he shares at what point in the lifecycle of a church to make change.
First, let’s look at the stages of life in an organization. You can plot these on a bell curve:
Vision – It’s brand new and unstoppable, with nothing but potential ahead.
Growth – You’re experiencing significant growth and moving forward. You’ve got momentum and wind at your back.
Plateau – You’ve lost some momentum. People are still coming, but people are also leaving. You’ve hit a ceiling and growth has stalled.
Decline – Momentum is gone and traction is lost. People are leaving and everything feels like pushing a boulder uphill.
Nostalgia – You’re living off past successes and reminiscing about “the good ole’ days.”
You’re in the driver’s seat – at what stage do you put it in drive and implement change? Take a minute and think about the pros and cons of each position. None of them are easy, and each stage has its challenges. If you feel that your team needs to transition into something new, we can eliminate the Vision & Nostalgia stages. You lack the excitement of feeling unstoppable, and you’re not yet to a place of living off past successes.
So which stage is it? Growth? You’ve got momentum — do you risk messing that up? If you cast a new direction or vision now, people may think you’re crazy.
What about the plateau stage? There is some built-in discontent here. You aren’t moving up anymore, but you also don’t have momentum.
In the decline stage, people are desperate and what you’ve built is slipping away. Resources are limited, but you’re getting by. The organization is in a nose-dive, and everyone is waiting on you to pull the team up.
Leaders Need to See the Future
This what we call vision—As a leader, you have to see what no one else can and chart the course. The best time to make a change for the future is when you’re in a season of GROWTH. With conviction and confidence, in Christ and His ability to guide you, you can make the tough call to shift your team to a new direction, even when things are going “well.”
Go Create Chaos!
When you shift into a season of change from a season of growth, you create a season of chaos. A new organizational bell curve is created with a new vision. The in-between is the chaos. It takes a bold and strong leader to step into and lead the chaos.
Too many times, leaders become comfortable in a season of Growth and they ride it right into a season of Plateau — and that’s a tough place to lead change from. If you can lead through the chaos, you will create a new season of growth for your organization and you can start the process over again.
If you’re currently in a phase that’s past Growth, that’s ok. Act now, do the hard thing. It gets more difficult to regain momentum and start a new lifecycle the further you move forward.
Here are some evaluating questions for you to ask as you spend some time with God and others:
-Where are we at as an organization in our lifecycle?
-What do we have to lose if we change, and what will we lose if we don’t?
-What is the new vision God has for us?
-Do we want it bad enough to experience the pain of change and creating chaos?
This is just the first step. In further posts, we’re going to dive into how to lead through change and step into the chaos. Together, with Him, you can do this. He’s called you to lead, and this is part of the process. Let the chaos begin.