DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Change is inevitable but never invited

Written by: on March 10, 2019

It is common sense that we do change in life from birth to adulthood. However, we hardly realize that we change as time goes by. In her book “Mindset: The new psychology of success” Carol Dweck wrote, Whether human qualities are things that can be cultivated or things that are curved in stone is an old issue: What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?[1]  It is clear that we live in a complex world with complicated people. The Quaker church in Kenya was established on the earlier Quaker traits grounded in scriptures and Christ-centeredness. Its structure was based on the 18th century model of humility. The original purpose as it was formed is no more the same in the current world complexity.

Berger and Johnson’s book ‘Simple habits for complex times: Powerful practices for Leaders’ digs deeper into what we experience in our day-to-day leadership. Our leadership complexities in our various organizations bring in the mindset model that controls what we do and how we do it. This book has come in at a time we (Quaker Church) are going through what we call church reconfiguration in Africa. Berger and Johnson are addressing most of the issues we are facing and how we need to go through this reconfiguration process. Recently we held a leaders’ meeting where we discussed this process, and many leaders are skeptical of any change that affects them in their positions, they occupy not looking at the church in years to come. Developing a bright new vision for an organization with leaders whose mindset are fixed on the belief that they are preserving the church heritage, is very difficult. Thanks to this book which has helped us with facts and approach to complex changes in an old established organization especially the church. Berger and Johnson wrote, “To help people move from the comfortable familiarity of now towards something mysteriously new requires some sense of where you are going and why.”[2] As simple as it looks from the wording, it is complex when it comes to putting realities in place. We appreciate for the reading this week as it addressed our predicament and helped us reorganize ourselves as a team on the strategies, we were trying to apply on the process which was proving to be difficult. We have seen what Berger and Johnson are referring to as “VUCA” (vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) in reality. A leader in a world marked by VUCA needs to have a new set of practices to rely on that keeps an organization changing enough to be following a clear and compelling vision, grounded in its past and aligned enough to be recognizably itself and yet also with enough agility so that an unexpected and significant change in the context doesn’t bring the whole place down.[3] This part was not incorporated in our earlier reconfiguration process, but this book has realigned us so that we may not course a big problem rather than building.

It is clearly stated that Ambiguity is the enemy of change; and therefore, when we were initiating change not considering these unknown VUCA issues, we set ourselves to fail rather than succeed. Berger and Johnson bring to our attention that, in the complex world, visions and strategies become the ingredients for those throughout your organization to create safe-to-fail experiments, the primordial soup of the complex organization.[4]  It is very clear from our place of reconfiguration that, people are unclear or uncertain where they are going, and this will lead them to their old patterns and habits. We are carrying out a total change in the structure of the Friends Church in Kenya where a good number of what we call Yearly Meetings (Diocese) are proposed to merge to have fewer Yearly meetings which are very many in the same region. The creation of many yearly meetings came as a result of conflicts and hence the need for independence from those they do not agree. They have grown to the point that a yearly meeting is established based on ethnic groups of people. Therefore, reconfiguration is to merge several of them to have a few yearly meetings for effective ministry that is not realized due to this division.  Berger and Johnson, advises that “Leading in this new way requires that you help people build bridges from their complex, journey-oriented home life to their workplace and link to the emotions that arise for them as they consider the new direction.” We are considering some of this guidance in this book for our progress in the reconfiguration process. We have in full agreement with Berger and Johnson on the point that, a vision that is not tied carefully to the shared history of an organization is disconcerting for people and risks that there is not enough to make the organization familiar to people in the future. In a complex world, the vision is the place at which the past and the future come together in a way that guides people’s action in the present.[5] Therefore, we re-strategizing our approach based on the hints we have gotten from Berger and Johnson. Why is it tough to bring together people of one faith in one agreement when they all are believers in Jesus Christ?  It is challenging that The Quaker church is known as one of the Historical peace churches in the world. However, it cannot restore peace within itself as it does outside its boundaries.

 

[1] Carol S. Mindset. The New Psychology of Success. How we can learn to fulfill our potential. New York: Penguin Random House, 2016.

 

[2] (Jennifer Garvey Berger & Keith Johnson 2015)

[3] (Jennifer Garvey Berger & Keith Johnson 2015)

[4] (Jennifer Garvey Berger & Keith Johnson 2015)

[5] (Jennifer Garvey Berger & Keith Johnson 2015)

About the Author

mm

John Muhanji

I am the Director Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting. I coordinate all Quaker activities and programs in the Quaker churches and school mostly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The focus of my work is more on leadership development and church planting in the region especially in Tanzania.. Am married with three children all grown up now. I love playing golf as my exercise hobby. I also love reading.

2 responses to “Change is inevitable but never invited”

  1. This is great John, in bringing us into your workplace as you relate the new insights of how to work in Complex circumstances. I must agree to that Berger and Johnson’s book opened my mind to new habits that I find so applicable in my work. I have struggled to solve a systems issue that’s directly affecting our customer service to our partners negatively, I’m determined to approach it differently using the new insights.

  2. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Thanks for sharing your review of Berger’s book, John. I appreciated your quote from the book: “To help people move from the comfortable familiarity of now towards something mysteriously new requires some sense of where you are going and why.” This is a powerful statement, as people want to feel a sense of safety on their journey. That is why it is so true that if people are unclear or uncertain where they are going, this will lead them to their old patterns and habits. Thanks for sharing your reflective post, John.

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