Sunday, January 25, 2009

A video summary of what I'm learning

This is a summary of ideas from my studies about spirituality and organizations. Near the end of the video, I also demonstrate my televangelist ambitions. What do you think of these themes and beliefs?


Joann P. said...

I don’t know if you agree with Walter Wink’s material but he does make the valid point that organizations are living beings, if only because of our believe structure that ‘makes them real.’ As living beings, I think, although this isn’t his main point, there is a high level of energy expended in self-survival and I think the perpetuation of the organization or institution is missing from your chart. Not necessarily positive or negative or light/dark side but a significant drainer of energy.

For instance (yes, we can always ‘believe in the economy’ and I’m a bit tired of that as an example) the churches. Even as a faith community, survival or growth, no whatever other belief structures are present, there is normally an underlining assumption that we need our organization to survive and it tends to be dismissed from the conversation and I’m encouraging you to help make people realize it. Keeping with a church example, ministry tends to mean worship services (with or without a clerk, rabbi, guru, etc) on a regular basis, a board and/or group of congregants responsible to oversee operations, a financial wellspring (passing the hat, tithes, etc) and small various activities to justify the space or to bring in newcomers (AA groups, renting, etc) or as part of a larger (this piece is talked about) means of reaching the community around them. Most of this stuff doesn’t fit into ministry (my very loose definition is making a positive difference in consciousness) that most people start with.

Problem is, we don’t think in terms of how to recreate church because the church has its own investment in survival and it skips for the most part, our conscious radar screen. Now, I’m typing with fingernails that are too long for me to enjoy this but leaps in consciousness tend to happen when old structures fall apart and that is when spirituality seems most needful to individuals. And, in the process of creating new structure, building it on a base of spirituality or right intent, tends to make a more permanent and viable creation.

Because of your consciousness and intent-filled means of living your life and creating your career and growing with you family, you give me hope that you will be of great use in our world in creating organizations, structures, institutions that are founded on spiritual principle and I’m going to suspect work will be coming your way, more or less in creation or re-creation, rather than ‘fixing what’s broke.’

David B. said...

I think you are on a very good track, and I will look forward to seeing concrete recommendations for moving the types of values and practices into the heart of how organizations for good, most of whom are badly stuck in the corporate model, can choose to transform themselves.

Things that come to mind for me are having publicly open and publicly accessible organizational time to do some of the spiritual or relationship building practices you described, encourage the shared use of space and basic resources, create more roles for volunteers and be open to new volunteers creating roles for themselves. Create a culture of accountability not a hierarchy of command. Lead with values and create directly democratic spaces through which to live out those values, including those who have power over (like elected officials, bureaucrats, etc). Encourage people to see everywhere they inhabit as sites of transformation embracing larger pictures of social change that include for instance unions, tenants organizing, etc. Interact with current clients as key participants and co-leaders of their individual and our collective change making process, etc!

MCC SEE said...


First of all I like the technique of using the interviews, highlighting certain key ideas on the screen and the handwritten notes with some (your?) theses. What you're talking about rings true for me as someone working within a faith-based organization - it's not that we have a new model based on "power-under" but that when we do follow that model our work has its greatest results. I've come to believe strongly that one thing missing in NGOs as a group is the value of collaboration. That's where my energy is these days - finding others that share this value and nurturing concrete examples of collaboration across organizations and within my organization. -- Randy

Michael Bischoff said...

Randy: Yes, the handwritten notes are my theses, but they are interconnected with the ideas of others that I've talked with or read.

I'm also very interested in collaboration lately. I'm facilitating strategic planning now with one local NGO who prioritizes deep collaboration--so that their services are not "owned" by any one organization, but shared in a collaboration of about 8 agencies. In doing this, many forces keep pushing them towards the model of one organization having dominant control. I see the movement towards deep organizational collaboration as parallel to the individual spiritual path--going from being self-centered to seeing our identity and meaning as an integrated part of the whole. In both the individual path and the organization path, I think it can be a long counter-cultural journey.

MCC SEE said...

I see a lot of similarities between the NGO you're working with and some projects/methods that we are developing. We also experience pressures to have one organization be in control. We also talk about who "owns" things and the value of having it be among multiple owners. One such project is the peace academy ( which faces logistically challenges in running an event for 60-90 people in the summer, also challenges of how much ability to make daily decisions the implementing team has, since the coordinating team consists of 8 people who are more frequently out of town than here. Planning face-to-face meetings is also a challenge. I'd welcome more interaction about this and also considered doing some writing on this topic. Perhaps you're interested to collaborate on writing something?