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Look for the Overlap

By November 19, 2021Leadership

For some crazy reason, leaders in other organizations will contact me for advice. I usually chalk it up to desperation or having exhausted all other options. My price is pretty reasonable – it’s the price of a cup of coffee.

Since I’ve been leading organizations for over thirty years, one of the topics they often want to discuss is organizational change. What to change? How to change? Should they even change at all? To quote Farmer’s Insurance, “I know a thing or two, because I’ve seen a thing or two.”

Often it is church leaders who want to sit down and talk. They love their church and want to see it succeed. In many cases, it’s a volunteer who has devoted years of time, energy, and dollars to the cause. The last thing they want to see is their church decline, or even close down. Sometimes it is a pastor who is trying to navigate the minefield of expectations and differing opinions. Having walked that minefield myself, I have a great appreciation for their challenge.

In most cases, there is a disconnect they might not even be aware of. It’s the gap between who they want to reach and who they are equipped to reach. I’ve heard countless church leaders tell me some variation of “we want to reach young people.” But the truth is, they are not equipped to reach young people – even if the definition of “young” is extended to someone in their early forties.

The same can be said for businesses who zero in on a specific segment or target market. Maybe it’s the hip demographic or the growing part of the market. Maybe it’s trending on social media.  Seeing a squirrel, a business leader decides that will be their new customer. Priorities shift, budgets are reallocated, and pep talks are given. Unfortunately, this happens without first examining the gap between desire and ability.

This gap is where conflict and tension live.

When who you want to reach and who you are capable of reaching are far apart, it doesn’t mean you can’t eventually reach those people. But it does mean doing the hard work of preparation, change management, and course correction. It requires patience.  Churches or organizations who try to reinvent themselves overnight do so with much (unnecessary) bloodshed.

If the gap isn’t that big, change can happen quicker and with less pain. But you have to know how big the gap is before you start. If there isn’t a gap, if the two circles overlap – that’s the sweet spot. Go for it!

But here’s what these leaders often miss: they are usually equipped to reach somebody. In other words, every organization has existing strengths that match with potential opportunities.

I call this the overlap. It’s the intersection of possibility.

The shiny object is what attracts our attention. Or, even worse, perhaps leaders feel ashamed about who they are equipped to best serve. My word to them? Don’t be.

That being said, there are times when an organization should start with who they can best reach now while also laying the groundwork for change. This is vital for the future viability of the organization. It’s forward-thinking. A good leader will take the current successes and use them to set the stage for what’s coming next.

Don’t let the gap discourage you. Look for the overlap.

Experience and Background

  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in business administration (mba)
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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