RCA Management following outmoded models

I read the following in the Monday Business Section of The Globe and Mail, June 30, page B6. It’s from Harvey Schachter’s weekly page on best practices for management. As I read it, I thought that his advice is tailor made for the RCA. Our current management models (including our use of Carver) are all about centralized direction, closed discussions, and small selected groups making all the decisions, discouraging debate, restricting information, and speaking with one voice. Well, those are hardly best practices.

Read through the following material, and see if this advice does not much more encourage the very kind of open and spacious decision-making that the RCA used to treasure and express in its conciliar / assembly model of government, with free and open discussion, and lack of central control and selection of who participates.

I quote Mr. Schachter’s column in full:

Today’s organizations require leaders who create space rather than taking it up. That’s the advice of Andre Martin, global leadership development director for candy maker Mars Inc., who says in Executive Excellence you must create five spaces, each representing a new task of leadership:

Create space to bring most talent into the room

When facing key strategic challenges, you must bring the most talented people together, be it mission-critical employees, consumers, competitors, future employees, or thought leaders. The primary skill is to constantly scan the crowd, knowing who is out there and what unique value they will bring. The potential obstacle is the tendency to only invite those who are liked, or simply available.

Create the space to provide an informed opinion

Next, create space for those people to provide an informed opinion. Provide your people with the most cutting-edge trends and best practices to ensure they keep a healthy air of dissatisfaction. Require them to search for new perspectives before working on key challenges. The primary skill is amplifying curiosity and the obstacle is censoring perspectives by controlling available information.

Create the space to fiercely debate issues

Debate allows you to see issues clearly, uncover past compromises, understand dynamic tensions, overcome interpersonal obstacles, and push your thinking forward. You must encourage space for debate by asking difficult questions, resisting personalizing issues, encouraging disagreement, and showing vulnerability. The primary skill is creating insightful conversations. The potential obstacle is punishing dissenters and seeking to live in a world of what he calls “violent agreement.”

Create the space to practice breakthrough thinking

Innovation in processes, approaches, and operating philosophies is vital, positioning your firm for disruption, technological advance or industry shift. To create the space for such breakthroughs you must uncover dynamic tensions, encourage new approaches, and reward risk. The primary skill is enabling daydreaming while the obstacle is banging your judge’s gavel to evaluate an idea as soon as it is voiced.

Create space to discover what matters most

By letting people use some time to create initiatives and projects that drive real difference while aligning with the organization’s goals, you create a space where their passions can meld with organizational hopes, resources and strategies. They can prototype ideas, test potentially revolutionizing initiatives, and mine the lessons from these experiments. The primary skill is encouraging critical reflection, so the key lessons are pulled out of each initiative and a return obtained. The potential obstacle is pulling the puppeteers strings, limiting your return on talent by using them to implement only a few big ideas.

2 thoughts on “RCA Management following outmoded models

  1. Daniel,

    Thank you so much for sharing this framework. We had a most interesting four hours at NBTS last Tuesday [July 1st] hearing Ken Bradsell’s take on how Carver Governance is working in the GSC context. The meeting was sponsored by RSMAt and about 18 people showed up–of varying stripes and opinions. I have about 8 pages of notes, taken as I tried to sit and listen with with a new set of ears [an effort not quite successful.] I am distilling these in my mind and will do that for a while before doing a post or two on the subject here. For now, suffice it to say that the picture that emerged from that meeting would be a poor fit to the framework you outline above.

  2. Daniel,

    What does it tell me that I could see the parallels much more clearly when Mr. Schachter spoke of “obstacles”?

    On the other hand, my experience with General Synod last month was of an assembly that seemed to be designed with the intent to bring about the desired outcomes underlying Mr. Schachter’s lauded “primary skills.” In some cases, I really think it may have worked.

    Of course, there does appear to be the threat of something quite different in some of the smaller groups that wield significant power.

    And I know that the other assemblies (consistories, classes, regional synods), in their governance and in their program efforts, struggle with the first obstacle named above: “the tendency to only invite those who are liked, or simply available.”



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