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

Moving the Flywheel

Written by: on September 18, 2014

Collins’ Good to Great is perhaps the most helpful book I’ve read on this course to date. These books are not merely philosophical or theoretical, but full of proven principles and examples that hopefully will enable me to function better in my role. As Collins explains, it’s not a question of excellent principles that can be translated from the business sector into the social, but essentially are principles of greatness that apply in both.[1] These principles, he explains, do not originate from the business world, but exist outside of it and can be therefore applied in either, equally well. [2]

As someone who is heading up a new start-up, the ‘Three Stages of Breakthrough’[3] have proved a most helpful insight. Collins summarises the three stages of breakthrough as follows:

  1. Disciplined People
    • Level 5 Leadership
    • First Who, Then What
  2. Disciplined Thought
    • Confront the Brutal Facts
    • Hedgehog Concept
  3. Disciplined Action
    • Culture of Discipline
    • Technology Accelerators

In my previous church I worked at in Seoul, there was a tendency to focus on charismatic leaders. Jim Cymbala, Haddon Robinson, Philip Yancey, and Francis Chan, were just some of the amazing speakers we’ve had at our English Ministry. Without a doubt they are men of great integrity and faith, but they were invited first and foremost because they were famous.

It’s not just churches that revere charismatic personalities. Businesses often assume that success is connected to employing enigmatic individuals from outside a company. However, through his research of good to great companies, Collins discovered that ten out of eleven CEO’s were actually employed and developed from within. He also discovered that a Level 5 leader is generally characterized by their desire for the greater good of the company, and not just their own benefit and egotistical needs. A Level 5 leader is selfless and plans for the success of the company, even when he or she will no longer be around. In summary, a Level 5 leader is recognized by the following strengths:

Level 5 = Humility + Professional Will + Modesty + Resolve + Determination

I found most helpful the principle of getting the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off. Already this year, since starting the organisation in March, I have learned the hard way the importance of not simply getting people in place, but of getting the right people. My husband often tells me how he employs his inner circle of staff based on their character, and not on their skill or experience. Now I understand where he borrowed that pearl of wisdom from! As Collins states, you can teach skills, but character, basic intelligence, work ethic, and dedication to fulfilling commitments are values that are ingrained in a person.

Good to Great has also caused me to think about what our Hedgehog Concept is, which I think is this: Saving and healing the broken and then equipping them to walk into their God-given purpose. From the eight week “Passion for Purpose” course that we’ve designed to enable people understand their purpose in life, the internship and Christian Ministry Diploma that we’re launching through our training college this October, to our focus on reaching the broken in our local community through our outreach programmes, everything is geared towards developing people, raising them up and equipping them into their destinies and callings. There is nothing I love more than discovering people’s strengths, passion and gifts and then training them up in their purpose. This, I have come to understand, is our ‘Hedgehog concept’. This is what I am passionate about.

Honestly, there’s so much I could say which I found helpful through these two books, but I’ll end here with this quote: “You will have the ultimate satisfaction knowing that your short time here on earth was well spent, and that it mattered.” Perhaps I have about another forty years left on this earth, which really isn’t long. It is my hope to leave behind an organization with strong enough principles and systems to make it enduring. Armed with Good to Great, I stand a better chance of making that happen. Time to start moving my flywheel.

[1] Jim Collins, Good To Great And the Social Sectors: A Monograph To Accompany Good To Great (London, UK: Random House, 2006), 5

[2] Jim Collins, ibid., 6-7

[3] Jim Collins, Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap And Others Don’t (London, UK: Random House, 2001), 12

About the Author


Liz Linssen

8 responses to “Moving the Flywheel”

  1. mm John Woodward says:

    Glad to see you also found this book very helpful. I am also glad you reminded us about the concept of raising up leaders from within (like you, that most of the good-to-great companies found their leaders inside the organization. I love hearing about your program to grow and mature people within your church, which answers the question I was going to ask, which was “Why don’t we seek leaders from within? Why are we always looking for that superstar from without?” I think your program might be the major reason. We don’t take time to develop our own leaders, so there isn’t anyone in our midst ready to step in. We aren’t willing to take the time or effort required to work with people to help move them from hurting and seeking individuals to people who can disciple and grow and lead others. I appreciate your passion for working with people, a passion I share. But it doesn’t result in quick results or instant numbers for our churches, but it develops leaders for the long haul…and for depth! Keep up the great work. I think you are RIGHT ON TRACK!

  2. mm Liz Linssen says:

    Thank you so much John for your kind feedback. It’s funny, but I was buying something at a local builder’s merchant this week, and thinking about the same topic. It’s a large store, with a phone that is constantly ringing with orders, and just one man answering calls, serving ‘live’ customers and picking things off the shelves (as no one else knows where things are). I was thinking to myself, ‘Why doesn’t he train up other people?” Customers always have to wait long periods to get served, when if there were several people working, things go would a lot smoother and quicker.
    I guess it could be because it would be so hard to train someone. Only he knows where things are, the prices of the 100s of items, and so on. Perhaps he doesn’t trust someone else to do a good job. Who knows? But surely it’s only a matter of time before the whole thing falls.
    The same can be true in church circles. It’s costly training someone up, teaching them the ropes, trusting them, investing time and energy in them. Maybe that’s why we tend to avoid doing it. But surely finding a good system and choosing the right people to get on the bus is a worthwhile investment. I guess it’s a ‘flywheel-pushing’ exercise!

  3. Deve Persad says:

    Liz, thanks for sharing a little insight into how the church plant is progressing. It sounds like you’ve got a good handle on both where your strengths lie and what the community needs. Certainly for me, I would agree with the underscoring of character. You said: “As Collins states, you can teach skills, but character, basic intelligence, work ethic, and dedication to fulfilling commitments are values that are ingrained in a person.” Good character can handle anything and require less resources too train and supervise. Has there been someone who has surprised you by their character and desire to serve as part of the church?

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Dear Deve
      Thank you so much for your feedback. Yes, I am quite surprised by how many people have a sincere desire to serve God. The majority of the members are very enthusiastic. But also God brought someone into the leadership who is an enormous support and blessing, not just to the ministry, but as a friend too. I really thank God for her and for everyone He has brought in.

  4. Richard Volzke says:

    In any organization, there are certain skills that are needed to operate the business. If a company needs a lawyer on staff, for example, that is a skill that cannot just be learned or taught. While character is important, subject expertise is equally important. Having a business background, I know that corporations are careful to hire based on whether a person is capable of fulfilling the responsibility of the role. Further, they recognize that some roles can be mentored and taught, but others need to have senior level skill sets. From what I’ve seen, some Christian organizations overlook skills needed to perform a role. Sometimes it is because they aren’t clear on job descriptions themselves, or they lack the “business” expertise to know how to hire. This is where organizations must be very, very diligent to ensure they have the right people.

    Here is an example….I know an organization very well that appoints their board based on character and those with Christian values and commitment. They appointed a couple of wonderful Christian men, both hardworking and with character, to fill the treasurer and legal representative roles. Neither man has any background or experience in these areas. We have watched the organization struggle. Their decisions on who to select as board members has also impacted their ability to raise funds. This is because donors have lost confidence. I think Collins emphasis was to say that we shouldn’t just put a warm body in a role, nor select someone because they have good character. Rather, I think he is saying that Christians each have callings and gifts that the Lord has provided. We should put them in roles where their gifts are most useful.

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Richard
      Thanks so much for your feedback. I TOTALLY agree with you in the importance of putting people in places according to their gifts, and their strengths and calling. Absolutely essential.
      Your feedback really did make me think. I think when Collins’ talks about getting the right people on the bus, he’s assuming that these people not only have the humility and determined will, but the skills also. But as you infer, in many church circles, that is not always the case.
      It’s a fine balance indeed, one where great wisdom is needed. Thanks Richard.

  5. Michael Badriaki says:

    Hi Liz thank you for the post. It is great to the different perspectives on the Collin’s book. As I grow in my leadership capacity, I believe that I know what my strengthens are and my areas of weakness. I am grateful for the Collin’s research and wisdom but sometimes, to much information can be overwhelming. I too was pleased by the statement, “You will have the ultimate satisfaction knowing that your short time here on earth was well spent, and that it mattered.”
    I want to live my life know that what I am about matter to me and the I am contributing to the common good.

    Thank you

  6. Hey Liz,

    You brought a great point, “you can teach skills, but character, basic intelligence, work ethic, and dedication to fulfilling commitments are values that are ingrained in a person.” I have often used a similar thought when asking people to help me with ministry. I can always teach skill but passion for God and his mission must be ingrained in a person.

    I agree that this book was great. I enjoyed learning the concepts that have become so synonymous with good business practices. It is not the flash in the pan that will when the day or the market or the souls for our work, but rather it is the consistent hedgehog deliberate determination to continue keeping the main point the main point that will move that flywheel and accomplish the ultimate goals of any church or organization.

    Great Liz!

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