mission true or mission drift?

March 24, 2014

Good morning! Still hoping it will one day actually be Spring here in the Midwest, but we have snow in the forecast for Tuesday!!

Last week, I did a brief post on the book Mission Drift and was asked by a friend of mine if there is mission drift, how do you get back on track? What I am going to do is take some key points from the book to talk about how you might be able to get prevent and even correct mission drift

First, this statement: “Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission. It’s that simple. It will happen.”

Read the following mission statement and then tell me who you think it applies to. “To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of our life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.” Who did you guess? Would you believe that it is the founding mission of Harvard University? It’s original motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, meaning “Truth for Christ and the Church.” Now it is simply Veritas. Eighty years later Yale was founded to counter the drift seen at Harvard – we have seen how that has worked out over the years!

The Pew Charitable Trusts were founded by a devout Christian, Howard Pew, and he helped Billy Graham launch Christianity TodayHoward Pew created the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Today, the Pew Charitable Trusts fund Planned Parenthood and some Ivy League schools, but no longer do they support the seminary founded by Howard Pew. An astonishing example of Mission Drift.

However, there are ways to counter our natural tendency towards mission drift (as the authors note, since organizations are made up of by individuals, then this has to be addressed at the individual level). The authors talk about what it means to be a Mission True organization.

Mission True – the authors of Mission Drift give us several examples of what characterizes Mission True organizations.

1. They recognize that Christ is the difference

2. They affirm that faith sustains them.

3. They Understand that functional atheism is the path of least resistance.

“Mission True organizations know who they are and actively safeguard, reinforce, and celebrate their DNA. Leaders constantly push toward higher levels of clarity about their mission and even more intentionality about protecting it.”

Steps Mission True organizations take:

1. Seek clarity first.

2. Acknowledge that the pressure to drift is constant.

3. Realize there’s a point of no return.

4. Make hard directions to correct drift.

Please do realize that change does not equal drift. In fact, being Mission True necessitates that you change to continue to meet your mission.

Mission True Boards do the following:

1. Recruit carefully and prayerfully.

2. Hold the CEO responsible for the mission.

3. Follow standard board practices (Note: check out Boards That Lead).

4. Create policies and safeguards.

5. Remember the mission.

In regards to hiring, Mission True organizations:

1. Hire slow and fire fast.

2. Clearly define your approach to hiring based on faith.

3. Be consistent with your hiring policy.

4. Inculcate staff in your values and history.

Mission True organizations understand the importance of culture. They know that:

1. Small things matter.

2. Consistency counts.

3. Exemplars should be celebrated.

4. Embed spiritual disciplines.

Mission Drift is real and a threat to all organizations founded with a purpose. And there are ways to prevent and correct that drift.

As a leader you must be always aware of the danger and vigilant in quickly detecting and correcting mission drift when it begins to occur. Also, do not confuse changes of methodology with change in mission. Very often, change in methodology is exactly what is needed to prevent mission drift.

This is a key leadership task – what are you doing to prevent mission drift in your organization?

BG

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  1. changing the culture – what’s first? « BG Allen - March 31, 2014

    […] week I wrote a post about the book Mission Drift and shortly afterwards received an email from a friend thanking me for the post, but then asking […]

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