Balancing Collaboration and Decision Making

hallway

Watching my girls grow up is a blend of beautifully fulfilling and painfully surreal. 

With each passing year they develop into the young women I hope they will be while leaving behind the little girls I wish they could stay.

That's the struggle of parenthood I guess.

This same tension is also a reality in growing organizations and churches. We want growth, but we often struggle with the new reality growth brings. Unlike with children, how leaders manage this tension can determine if the organization grows or if it stalls.

One tension point I see in churches, especially those built on the shoulders of a collaborative team, is in how decisions are made. After years of everyone having a voice into every single decision, no one notices when this becomes a growth barrier. This tension often becomes real when churches hit around 1000 in attendance.

A sign this is happening? 

Collaborative teams struggle when hallway conversations become decision conversations. 

When a team is small it's easy to rally everyone up outside of offices and talk through a problem. Once growth happens it is physically impossible to do this. Inevitably someone who should be present in a conversation isn't. Confusion happens. Communication breaks down. Sideways energy manifests. Silos form. Decisions begin to cause more harm than good.

Here is a simple solution: Create a system for making all major decisions.

Have lots of conversations in every hallway with lots of people, but make decisions around one table with a set team.

Growth requires funneling major decisions to a single team at a certain time.

This can be a tough discipline for leaders who have been with an organization for a long time, who like talking through things randomly as they pop into their mind, who are impatient, or who want everyone to feel included. 

Position yourself for growth today by empowering capable people to make smaller decisions and establishing a team and system of making major decisions.