The models of organizational success that dominated the twentieth century have their roots in the industrial revolution and, simply put, the world has changed. The pursuit of “efficiency” — getting the most with the least investment of energy, time, or money — was once a laudable goal, but being effective in today’s world is less a question of optimizing for a known (and relatively stable) set of variables than responsiveness to a constantly shifting environment. Adaptability, no efficiency, must become our central competency.
The quote above comes from Team of Teams, a book about the lessons learned about effective organization by the United States special forces during the war with Al Qaeda in Iraq. It is not a book about war, but a book about how organizations can be effective in the fast-changing environment of the 21st century.
I’m not sure exactly how to take the lessons in the book — which I am still reading — and apply them to the church, but I’m convinced we have a lot to learn. An argument can be made that Methodism endured and expanded in the 18th and 19th century because its organization was uniquely fitted to carry its theology into the world.
It is hard to argue that our current organization is well fitted to our environment.
I hope to share more thoughts as I read this book. I’m curious, though, about the contrast raised in the quote above.
Do you think adaptability is the key to effectiveness for the United Methodist Church today?
Can you think of ways we might foster such adaptability?