Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Adaptation Without Change

Kruse Kronicle quotes Business Insider on change in companies:
... What explains this longevity? Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Charles O’Reilly calls it "organizational ambidexterity": the ability of a company to manage its current business while simultaneously preparing for changing conditions. "You often see successful organizations failing, and it's not obvious why they should fail," O’Reilly says. The reason, he says, is that a strategy that had been successful within the context of a particular time and place may suddenly be all wrong once the world changes.

Staying competitive, then, means changing what you're doing. But the change can't be an abrupt switch from old to new — from print to digital distribution, say, or from selling products to selling services — if that means abandoning a business that's still profitable. Hence the call for ambidexterity. You can't just choose between exploiting your current opportunities and exploring new ones; you have to do both. And the companies that last for decades are able to do so time and time again. ...
Kruse concludes, "I think there is a message for congregations and denominations as well." I cannot help but react by noting that there is and there isn't such lessons. He is right that gradual is important when changing an institution. But he is wrong in the sense that companies change change cmpletely, churches and denomination cannot.

For example, back in the day I worked for the now long dead RCA. Did you know that RCA owned Hertz Rent-A-Car for a while? Yep, the electronics giant held on long past the time the union contracts drove it into the ground by acquiring lines of business that were wholly unrelated. A church cannot do that. It cannot decide to quit making product X and start making product Y. The church's product is defined for it. The church can adapt but it cannot fundamentally change. It canopt become something different from what it has always been.

We have to be careful when we draw these comparisons.


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