1. There are key moments of opportunity.
2. You need the right people.
1. Designing the Seminary's curriculum took some trial and error. The MDIV design team involved no conflict at all in the Summer of 2007. Everyone wanted the best possible result. We had data from a survey Russ had done with a large number of youth pastors. We had benchmarks from other institutions. We had the combined ministry knowledge of the task force.
The degree proposal passed all the internal committees. It passed a visit from the Higher Learning Commission in the Fall of 2008. A separate Seminary task force soon began to explore a whole new branch of the university in the Spring of 2008, one that might seek Association of Theological Schools accreditation (this was not an automatic assumption--we knew the traditional requirements of ATS were in transition. Henry Smith wisely suggested we aim for where it was headed rather than where it currently was).
Part of the design involved the question of order. It made sense to have the course on mission first. Leadership seemed a good second because we thought that the kind of student interested in a practical MDIV would also be very interested in leadership. We also had Bob Whitesel as our first faculty member, who was an expert in both areas. It seemed like an exciting first year line up to create enthusiasm.
Bob introduced us to Chip Arn, son of the well known church growth expert Win Arn. Chip was the first new hire of the Seminary venture. Chip, Russ, and I have fond memories of meeting at Bob Evans and scheming him as part of the new Seminary. I always tell new students that he has the gift of online teaching. Somehow he has managed to be full-time faculty and still live in California. :-)
More tomorrow on the trial and error involved that first year with the curriculum design process and implementation.
2. I've developed some thoughts on collaboration over the years. I agree with Jim Collins that truly great companies involve teams who generate vision and direction together. Great companies are not a "genius with a thousand helpers."
That's not to say that companies cannot achieve great things with directive leaders who aren't very collaborative. It just won't be much fun for those on the inside. Here are some thoughts I've developed on collaboration over the last eighteen years at IWU:
a. There needs to be a clear line of authority to make final decisions after collaboration.
b. Collaborators need to go along with a decision once it has been made.
c. The leader of collaborations should not be self-interested but truly want the greater good.
d. There are also types of people around whom leaders need to navigate in collaboration:
- The Dominator - There are some people who either talk too much during collaborations or always try to bully the rest of the group to do what they want or think is right. These people tend to get marginalized. They stop getting put on committees. The team tries to work around them. Woe to those under them when they are in leadership. (I imagine that the more experience and knowledge a person has, the more disciplined they have to be not to talk in collaborations. They need to let others give ideas. What would you say, no one individual should talk more than 25% of the time?)
- The Big Mouth - Those who can't keep the confidentiality or confidences of groups working toward a goal will also eventually find themselves circumnavigated (of course the clever sometimes use such people to spread information without them knowing it).
- The Feet Dragger - There are some people whose main function is to slow down the movement of a project. They want to do more research or look at the risks more closely. As frustrating as these people are, they should be heard. Sometimes they're right. But such people should not be the ones making the decisions. They should work for the leaders but not be the leaders. (I would put most of those who are natural born administrators in this category)
- The Broken Record - Some people are very good at one thing. No matter what you are working on, it comes back to that one thing. They should be heard. If you are talking about that one thing, let them go to town. But they need to be "navigated around" on all the other things.
Good leaders collaborate... and sometimes have to circumnavigate.