While a church’s doctrinal statement, strategy, and leadership structure are all important, the church culture trumps them all. Culture is the alpha male in the room. It dominates everything else. As leadership guru Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He was not diminishing strategy, as Drucker wrote a lot about organizational strategy and management theory. He was simply admitting the overwhelming influence culture has on people and an organization.
By “culture,” I am not referring to the socio-economic, educational, and ethnic makeup of a church or organization. I am talking about the shared values—whether stated explicitly or implicitly understood—that guide a church and the people. If the values are deeply held by the leaders and the church’s actions are strategically aligned to those values, they are overwhelmingly directive. Jim Collins once wrote, “When you have superb alignment, a visitor could drop into your organization from another planet and infer [values] without having to read them on paper.”
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, recently shared with potential investors the five values that guide their company. I found the values intriguing as they provide a peek into the culture of Facebook. Notice the actionable nature, the pithy statements that get repeated (ex., reportedly the “move fast and break things” value is on posters throughout the facility), and the deep concern Mark has that these values might not be lived out.
Here is the excerpt from Zuckerberg’s letter:
Focus on Impact
If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.
Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: ‘Move fast and break things.’ The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.
Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: ‘The riskiest thing is to take no risks.’ We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.
We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact.
Build Social Value
Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.
If you had to articulate several values (implicit or explicit) in your church orministry, what would they be? In coming weeks, I may share the values that are beginning to guide the division I lead at LifeWay.