Monday, December 28, 2009

Article on "No Organizations"

Here is an old post I found from a Protestant "emerging church" pastor that I think lays out some very good points that could well be applied to the current Institutional dynamics in the Catholic Church. I haven't looked over the rest of the blog, so I can't recommend or endorse anything else there, but here it is. The red comments in brackets are mine:

It occurs to me that one of the reasons that mainline denominations are in significant decline is that they are intrinsically “NO organizations.” They are not designed to be permission giving but, rather, to be permission denying. Rather than embracing a “whatever it takes” philosophy of ministry, the “never done it that way” mentality is prevalent. A friend of mine likes to say that often the most obvious solution to a problem escapes us because it is too easy and too obvious to be considered. NO organizations can’t see these answers for three basic truths prevail in their operational mindset: 1) NO organizations are reactive; 2) NO organizations use obstacles as excuses for their failure; and 3) NO organizations discourage creativity. It is time to break the cycle if we as a denomination are going to move beyond our NO organization mindset!

NO organizations are reactive not proactive. They wait for something to happen so that they can criticize it thoroughly and respond with knee jerk policy statements and self-righteous pronouncements. Reactivity is a dangerous state of existence because it means you live in constant stress.
[Lots of Trads are reactive and reactionary in their ideology and personalities.] Those who are acting are always waiting on criticism and weighing their decisions on their willingness and ability to stand further assaults, often of a personal nature. For those in authority, being reactive means they spend far too much time looking for problems rather than finding solutions. Problem identification is not a spiritual gift! Any fool can find a problem; it takes a leader to find a solution. [A good thing for us to remember here, too. Healthy critique is needed, but only makes sense in the context of having a clear vision of a better alternative. If you are proposing no practical solutions, don't whine about the problems. Exposure to the constant cynicism and bitter complaining among Trads can be absolutely spiritually poisonous bile when it is merely destructive instead of constructive.]

NO organizations use obstacles as excuses rather than conquer them.
They see every problem as a reason to justify their struggles not realizing they their worst enemy may, indeed, be themselves. My favorite pastor once said “problems are simply opportunities for God to bless.” NO organizations are managed by the philosophy of the path of least resistance. That path usually is characterized by mediocrity and “good enough.” There is no reward for going above and beyond the call of duty or striving for excellence. When some one tries to rise and attempt conquer problems constructively they are criticized for not following procedures or used for target practice since their heads are above the crowd. [The former is certainly true in the mainline institutional Church; the latter I've been the victim of on Trad discussion forums online when espousing Renegade Trad type positions] NO organizations are always looking for a target rather than team member. Any fool can criticize; it takes a leader to find a solution!

NO organizations discourage creativity. They are bound by paradigms that reward stagnation. Turf wars and entrenched methodologies discourage creative thinking.
More time is spent avoiding interpersonal difficulties than actually finding solutions [One often finds sympathetic parties, even priests, who are afraid to act for fear of rocking the boat, who say they must be "political" or act "diplomatically" so as to not upset anyone or compromise their delicate "position" within the institutional Church.] The obvious solutions are ignored because they would require a change in behaviors and an embracing of new levels of creativity. Any fool can discourage; it takes a leader to creatively find solutions.

So the real key seems to be leaders who are proactive, desire to conquer obstacles and embrace creativity. How do we raise up a generation of these leaders? How do we release them to create YES organizations? God help us to live and lead boldly. I remain:

Lost in Grace,

Marty Cauley, Pastor
That pretty much summed up the dynamics in the current mainline institutional Church AND the usual (ie, non-renegade) Trad critique of it in one fell swoop...and thoroughly dismembered them both. We need to think outside the box, people!

On a side note, I did find the name "NO Organization" rather ironic given that the Novus Ordo is often abbreviated N.O. in liturgical circles. I've often thought of making a little bumper sticker:

1 comment:

Michael Desnick said...

That is a very interesting blog post; it seems to be very much in tandem with the main tenets of Organizational Behavior Theory: That organizations have "standard operating procedures" i.e. routine ways of fulfilling tasks, which include a kind of organizational culture (ideas, language, values that are common to the organization.)

Organizations, according to this theory, are prone to certain pathologies:
1. Non-evaluation: the inability to critique the organization in order to assess weaknesses;
2. Non-strategy: the lack of ability to discern clear strategies or goals (which in this case, the pastor referred to as organizations being "reactive" rather than proactive, i.e. lacking leadership necessary to address a problem)
and most pertinent to the types of organizations you are critiquing;
3. Value infusion: cohesion and self-protection amongst organization members - priests, and others, are afraid to speak out too boldly for fear of "rocking the boat", because there is an institutionalized mentality within the group that dissuades dissent, while meanwhile viciously attacking "outsiders", those who dare to be different.

These types of pathologies are difficult to overcome, I'm not sure whether O.B.T. offers a way for them to be overcome, or even whether the theory believes that they can be overcome at all. It seems likely, however, that only massive overhaul of the institutions themselves would be able to engender the kinds of solutions that you are looking for. The only way I could foresee such a change radical enough to accomplish this are by one of two means: a new Ecumenical Council, wherein there is a achieved some kind of change in approach that realigns the paradigm of individual and organizational thought patterns , or else a fundamental restructuring of the canon law.