Let’s Get That Team in Shape!

Don’t worry! This isn’t another health and fitness craze. My focus is on how you might structure roles and ways of working for the leadership team of a Mission Community.

But first let’s think about teams in a very different context. From 1999 to 2004 I worked at Microsoft as an IT strategy consultant, and I learnt a lot. The Microsoft Solutions Framework defined how our world-wide consulting group approached projects and software development. The Team Model was a critical part of the framework.

A traditional approach to projects has a project manager in charge and uses a hierarchical structure driven by the project manager and a set of management processes (stage reviews, progress reporting, risk management, etc.). In the very strong technical culture at Microsoft this type of approach wasn’t appropriate. The individuals involved in a software development team were experienced professionals from a range of different disciplines and their focus was excellent software and technical solutions, not paperwork. The Team Model was designed to enable these different professions to work together highly effectively and achieve their goals.

The Team Model had two core principles. Firstly, it identified roles that related to the key success factors for a software project, eg.: easy to use; works well in the live environment, delivered on time and in budget. We had 6 roles, each of which related to one of the professional disciplines. The second key element was that this was a team of peers; it was not a hierarchy. So when decisions needed making the different roles with their different professional backgrounds were involved. For example, a conversation might go like this: “So you’re telling me the development is taking longer that you expected and you want to cut corners on testing? I don’t think so. You’re not making it look like my test team don’t know what they’re doing! What other options do we have that allow us to go live on time with a high-quality solution?”

How does all this apply to a Mission Community leadership team? You just apply the two principles.

Structure the team around what matters. How about if you switch from having just the full-time clergy and a representative for each church, to champions for key mission areas across the Mission Community?  The roles might include:

  • Children’s work
  • Youth work
  • Mission through baptism, weddings and funerals
  • Fresh expressions
  • Making better use of buildings
  • Developing leaders including leaders of worship.

Team of peers. The principle applies directly. Different voices and perspectives need to be considered. Exploring the different perspectives will help come up with better decisions and outcomes.

You might also think about how you approach meetings. Has the time and place and agenda always been designed around full time stipendiary clergy? (and perhaps also suitable for those of us who are retired)?  What about lay leaders who are working full time, or even still at school?  What might you do differently?

It would be great to see some examples of what’s working in different Mission Communities. Please share your story.


Author: Colin Ashurst

Outgoing CCL Acting Director

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