Sunday 30 November 2008

Member Care and Organisational Health

Signs of Organisational Health

I am back at Ards Friary, Donegal Ireland. In my mind. In my heart. I come here often. Thinking about healthy organisations. Thinking especially about healthy faith-based organisations. Orwell has been so helpful. But what are the positive examples? How did the Franciscan monks for example, such as here at Ards Friary, maintain a healthy organisational life--and a healthy community?

How rewarding it is to work in an organisation, a community, a team, a network, with these features:

1. Mutual respect among staff
2. Fair pay/compensation
3. Opportunities to make contributions
4. Opportunities for advancement and personal growth
5. Sense of purpose and meaning
6. Management with competence and integrity
7. Safeguards to protect individuals (staff and customers) from injustice
8. Responsibility for actions: owning mistakes, not blaming others or covering up
9. Honesty in communication and public disclosures: not slanting the truth or exagerating
10. Accountability for personal/work life: seeking out feedback and ways to improve, not ignoring or pretending

Reflection and Discussion
1. How would you add to or adjust the above list?
2. What are the three core characteristics in an organisation that would make you want to be part of it and really contribute?


John Umland said...

Are all 10 qualities present in the Friary? Ultimately, does it not depend on everyone committed to loving their neighbor as themselves and seeking greatness through servanthood? it's these very same qualities that make a group vulnerable to swindling. it's so easy to rip off people who are used to trusting others in their circle. it takes a destroyed conscience to violate that trust. but its the risk of the community that seeks to enjoy the Kingdom of heaven on earth.
sorry for rambling. just sorting out the sociology of the situation.

i bet the friary has seen its share of serpents among the doves.

i favor the interpretation of Jesus's parable about the tiny seed growing into a huge bush that the birds nest in as the church will always be infiltrated by Satan's minions. we will always have tares sown in our beautiful fields by him, with the Lord's knowledge.

God is good

theRonosphere said...

Until authority relationships are clarified - I think any mechanisms to deal with failure challenging beyond repair.

I think healthy community is marked not by the absence of wolves - but by the community's response to the wolves when detected. The ability to detect and defend, or absent timely detection, reveal and heal - will be reflected in the processes of the community and expected to be exercised at some point.

Ken Blue and John White wrote Church Discipline that Heals: Putting Costly Love into Action to address the what is reality though (hopefully) exceptional (and damaging) behaviour in the body. The reason it is important is that in our desire to be "positive," communities often walk in denial of behaviours or motives which eventually harm. Ken and John were simply reminding us that failures will occur, and there is a Biblical response to restoration.

My point here is that within church bodies, your 10 qualities and the responsive behaviours expressed by Ken and John are probably and generally more lacking than not. This is compounded in quasi-church organizations that appear to function like church bodies, but are in fact separate of any other authority. Even though the members claim they are under the spiritual authority of their "home" bodies, their quasi-church body excercises an authority over them aside and sometimes indifferent to the claimed "home" authority.

Monasteries are (usually) under the ultimate control of the Church from which they come. There is little confusion (although power struggles may still exist) as is not uncommon with "satellite" organizations. Not so for quasi-church organizations that act like a missions arm for churches too small to have their own organization, but in practice are an authority unto themselves.

And now I ramble.

Final point - Jesus was under no illusions as to who His disciples were - and yet he taught, challenged, and loved Judas the Wolf (perhaps more of a jackal?) as he did to John the beloved.

Authority structures need to be recognized, and the scope of their authority clarified first - and then secondly those structures/organizations need to recognize that failure (wolves) are a reality and provide mechanisms which address them - which begins to look like your 10 points plus.