GROUP EXIT & The answer to my exercise on how to respond to change proponents

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/02/17.

An exercise to understand how to handle new ideas.

I created an exercise (at this link) to help colleagues, students and clients identify how they should respond to people who bring new ideas to them. According to research by Dyke and Stark when a leader or a person in power gives even slight encouragement to “change proponents,” they will usually run too fast with the new idea and polarize the congregation in the process. The key when someone brings you a new idea, is instead to “Go Slow, Build Consensus and Succeed” (read an overview in the chapter by that name in Preparing for Change Reaction). You can also read more about how this happens in Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It, Abingdon Press) as well as an excerpted short introduction from on it from my book “Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Wesleyan Publishing House) at this link.

But, if you have undertaken the exercise (at this link) then below is the answer to the question regarding which option (Option A, Option B or Option C) was the “negative legitimizing event.”


(spoiler alert – do the exercise first)


The answer it is not as simple as many think at first view. That is because a negative “legitimizing” event is not the same as a negative event.

Let me explain.  Here is the negative event:

Option 1: Pastor H tells the congregation the church is going to implement Sunday evening small groups.

Most of you correctly saw this as a negative event because the pastor announced the change without first vetting it with the congregation, its leadership and even the naysayers. You all noticed that it was negative event. And, some of you were influenced by its negativity to see it as a negative legitimizing event. However it is not a negative “legitimizing event,” just a “negative event.”

Let me explain further: Here is the negative “legitimizing” event:

Option 2: Pastor D tells Pastor H he must be firm and forceful with the congregation.

What happens differently in a negative “legitimizing” event is that some person “legitimizes a new idea” and as a result the person wishing to implement the new idea moves too quickly. Pastor D “legitimized” the idea in away that would result in Pastor H moving too quickly and having a negative outcome.

So this was a “legitimizing” event that resulted in a negative outcome = negative legitimizing event.

Both Option 1 and Option 2 were negative events.

But, only Option 2 was a negative event where someone “legitimized” the idea. And, the person pushing for the idea (in this case pastor H) moved to quickly.

The lesson to draw from this, is that you must be careful when people bring a new idea to you. If you say to them, “Hey, Good idea” you might think you’re just being encouraging… but you will probably be legitimizing. You probably meant, “Hey, let’s look into it.” But change proponents are so stoked to move forward with this new idea they have been discussing, that they instead hear you say, “Hey, fantastic idea. Let’s move ahead with it.”

It is this “legitimizing” or “supporting” someone else’s new idea without first slowing that other person down that results in a negative event … which grew out of a “legitimizing action.”

So, for Pastor D to instead create a positive legitimizing event, he would’ve done this;

Option 2B: Pastor D tells Pastor H he must slow down, build consensus and even listen to the naysayers before he implements his new idea about small groups.

What happens is that Pastor D “legitimizes” Pastor H’s new idea in a manner that results in a positive outcome: hence, a “positive,” “legitimizing” “event.”

This is a important point to remember when people come to you with new ideas… because their success often depends on how you react.

FIGURE Staying Power Process Model p. 177For more info see Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change to Your Church, by Bob Whitesel 2010.  The figure is from Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It, Abingdon Press, 2003, p. 177).

See also:

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 792-822.

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits,” Review of Religious Research 38 (NY: Religious Research Association, 1996), 159-174.

Louis R. Pondy, “Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models,” Administrative Science Quarterly 12 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 296-320

GROUP EXIT & My video intro re. how to change a church w/o losing members

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/26/17.

This is another video introduction I’ve recorded for my colleagues, students and clients regarding how to prevent group exit. Students may find this video helpful in understanding their homework on the topic.

More notes that can help the learner watching this presentation are available at the link below:

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/change-preventing-group-exit-2/

And, see this link for more material on group exit and how to prevent it:

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/?s=staying+power

keywords: LEAD 600 545 Staying Power group exit Dyke and Starke Go Slow, build consensus and succeed Preparing for Change Reaction

CHANGE & How You Can Lead Change Better By Doing One Thing (That Most of Us Fear Doing)

by James Sudakow, Inc. Magazine, 1/24/17.

In many ways, though, the single biggest strategy I found that worked isn’t really a secret at all. And it isn’t that hard to do except that most of us don’t do it simply out of fear:

Find the people who are dead set against the change you are trying to lead, and go get them involved in it.

It sounds counter-intuitive. Why would you actually seek out the people who want you to fail or who are actively, or frequently passive aggressively, lobbying against you? Why would you put them on the core team who is leading the change? Isn’t that kind of like sabotaging yourself?

Maybe not.

In every change effort I lead, I actively find the loudest conscientious objectors to genuinely get them involved because they do two critical things that will make the change actually stick:

1. They will tell you all of the reasons (that you don’t want to hear) about why people don’t want to, or can’t, make the change a reality.

That information is really important. Not only does it help you understand why people may resist so you can think about how to handle it, but it also forces you to confront potentially legitimate flaws in the change you are trying to make or blind spots in your thinking. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced to hear perspectives counter to your own about the change.

2. If you find a way to work with them towards a solution they support, they will become your biggest advocates in selling the change.

There’s an old expression that says that “nobody is more zealous than a convert.” If you can truly find a way to collaborate with the objectors and find a solution they can support, they will sell the change enthusiastically. A lot of the objectors are quite influential across the company.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/james-sudakow/how-you-can-lead-change-better-by-doing-one-thing-that-most-of-us-fear-doing.html

CHANGE & Understanding the J-curve of Resistance

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Jerald Jellison, famed University of Southern California Professor of Psychology created the change management “J-curve” to explain how people deal with change. It confirms Dyke and Starke’s 6-stage/5-trigger model of change. For more on this latter model and it’s application to the church, see the books: “Preparing for Change Reaction: How to introduce change in your church” and “Staying Power: Why people leave the church of a change and what you can do about it.

J-curve 1.png

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J-curve 5.pngRead more at … change management “J-curve”

Speaking hastags: #NewDirectionChurch

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NEW IDEAS & 7 Lessons for Avoiding A Church Split When You Introduce a New Idea

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2009.

For 20+ years I have studied how to successfully employ intervention events (i.e. introducing “new ideas” such as new programs, new pastor, etc. to intervene in a church’s decline).  Below are my top 7 tips for successfully doing so.

These insights are needed today, because a growing literature in church management and group exit suggests that without an understanding of some of the following lessons, most attempts to introduce an intervention event will not start the church on a new life-cycle, but rather split it into two smaller groups of which neither will survive.

However, seven (7) lessons are introduced (below) to make the change agent aware that before she or he creates an intervention event, they must also be prepared to study and manage the process that follows that intervention.

Lesson 1: Usually, intervention events will produce a church exit. Arn (2009) is correct that life-cycles play an important role in managing organization behavior. Management researchers Dyke and Starke (1999:810-811) concur with Arn that new life-cycles can be fostered by, in Arn’s words, “beginning something new … an intervention event” (2009:9). However, group studies literature warns that introducing an intervention event, with proper knowledge of the six-stage process model involved, will in all likelihood produce a group exit (Dyke and Starke, 1996, 1999).

Lesson 2: Usually, intervention events produce a group exit, because intervention events usually polarize the church into competing groups. Pondy (1967) discovered that introducing an idea which conflicts with a organization’s status quo, usually produces enough conflict for opposing sub-groups to form. Dyke and Starke label one group (the group proposing change) “change proponents” and the resistant group the “status quo” (1999:805-806)

Lesson 3: Most people aren’t polarized from each other, until an intervention event. Dyke and Starke concur with Pondy’s conclusion that “felt conflict follows manifest conflict” (1967). This means that most people won’t get upset until after they witness some visible or “manifest” intervention (e.g. see Arn’s list of “intervention events,” 2009:9) over which they disagree with others.[1] Thus, when an interventionist (Schaller 1997) uncritically introduces or supports an intervention, a visible (i.e. manifest) conflict event often ensues which then gets previously non-conflicted people riled up. The intervention event creates such deep internal felt conflict in individuals, that the result is a deep-seated conflict that usually spins out of control (Dyke and Starke 1996). Some may wonder if the conflict that results from intervention events is unavoidable, but Dyke and Starke have demonstrated that it is not (ibid). This leads us to the lesson 4.

Lesson 4: If the reaction to the intervention event is not managed, the change proponents will leave as a group, create a new organization that will compete with the mother congregation, and usually both groups will die. Dyke and Starke (1996:159-174) discovered that typically such intervention events propel Pondy’s sub-group into a trajectory that leads to a “spin-off” or “unplanned birth” of a competitive organization. Lau and Murnigham (1998) observe that the ensuing “we-they” competition creates two unstable organizations. Case study research has supported the grounded theory of Lau and Murningham, and Dyke and Starke (Whitesel 2004, 2009:151-169). An ecclesial organization will usually not have sufficient economy of scale to survive this exit behavior, especially if the sub-group that exits the organization is comprised of change proponents (as it usually is, according to Dyke and Starke 1999:810-811).

Lesson 5: To manage the results of an Intervention Event, ecclesial leaders must understand the “Process Model for Group Exit and Retention.” If an ecclesial leader wishes to retain her or his change proponents, an intervention event should not be undertaken without a preparation to manage the ensuing process model of group exit (an organizational model has been put forth by Dyke and Starke, 1999; and a simpler model has been put forth by Whitesel 2007, 2009:151-169, 177).

Lesson 6: At Trigger 2, go slow … build consensus … and succeed. Church leaders that keep their congregations unified and thwart group exit, undertake two (2) of the “trigger events” differently (Dyke and Starke 1999: 811-815). Trigger 1 (a legitimating event) occurs when change proponents bring a new idea to a leader, and the leader enthusiastically “blesses” or “inadvertently legitimates” the new idea. Dyke and Starke found that if the leader does so, change proponents will run too fast with the new idea. While the status quo will be initially tolerant, they will later resent the fact that they were not consulted. The result is a church split (and group exit). Instead, leaders that kept their church unified went slow … built consensus … and succeeded. When new ideas were brought to a church leader, the uniting leader slowed down the change proponents, encouraged them to go through proper channels (creating compromise and consensus), and even had them dialogue with people who the church leader knew would be suspicious, apprehensive and/or contrary.

Lesson 7: At Trigger 4 the effective leader plans for conflict, uses conflict-resolution skills and emphasizes the power of unity. Dyke and Starke found that even when Trigger 2 was handled correctly, conflict will still occur. However, the unifying leader plans for conflict, and when it arises, he or she brings the different sides together to stress that they can do more together than apart. Therefore, instead of a “polarizing event” on the route to group exit, Trigger 4 becomes a “harmonizing event” on the route to group retention and “dissonant harmony” (Dyke and Starke1999:811-815). Thus, a uniting leader plans for conflict, learns conflict resolution skills, and is adept at inspiring a church to see it can do more together, than apart.

If a leader wishes to assist the church in embarking upon a new lifecycle which Arn laudably suggests (rather than fostering more typical group exit behavior) then he or she should familiarize themselves with the process model of group exit (Dyke and Starke 1999:813, Whitesel 2003:177).

[1] This initial repression may be due to Christians typically eschewing conflict (Whitesel 2003:85-93).

FIGURE Staying Power Process Model p. 177

Citations:

Charles Arn, “Where is Your Church in Its Missional Lifecycle?” (Marion, Ind.: Indiana Wesleyan University, 2009).

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 792-822.

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits,” Review of Religious Research 38 (NY: Religious Research Association, 1996), 159-174.

Louis R. Pondy, “Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models,” Administrative Science Quarterly 12 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 296-320

Dora Lau and J. Keith Murnigham, “Demographic Diversity and Faultlines: The Compositional Dynamics of Organizational Groups,” Academy of Management Review 23, 325-340)

Lyle Schaller, The Interventionist (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997).

Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004).

Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

 

GROUP EXIT & Executive Summary of book: Staying Power – Why People Leave the Church Over Change

Executive Summary by Drew Wilkerson of Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT) (Abingdon Press), July 27, 2016.

INTRODUCTION: Pgs. 13-17

This overview summarizes a book by Dr. Bob Whitesel entitled Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT). This book is designed for the church leader that wants to understand “one of the most baffling questions facing church leaders today – why do people leave the church over change and what can be done about it” (p. 7). Staying Power is a book that is essential to every church leader. Change is inevitable and necessary. Whitesel outlines a process to oversee change in a way that minimizes the fallout of the effects of change in a church.

PURPOSE:  Pgs. 18-30

The purpose of Staying Power is found in Dr. Whitesel’s desire to counsel the local church pastor and leader how to bring about positive change. In a succinct overview Whitesel states, “…change and the tensions that accompany it are not only inevitable but also survivable” (p.7).

 

PROCESS & BENEFITS: Pgs. 33-168

Whitesel outlines the six stages that a church goes through that lead to either group exit or group harmony. Route A leads to polarizing and intense conflict. Route B leads to change that is grounded in harmony. The tensions of change will impact every church. Too often churches embroiled in polarizing change never fully recover. Whitesel outlines a step by step process that refocuses church transformation into a healthy course of action. Following a brief explanation of the problems change can bring to a local church, Whitesel defines the stages of change churches must go through. They are as follows:

 

  1. Stage 1: Relative Harmony. A church begins looking at changes that may be needed or desired. Trigger #1 comes into play, “Conflicting Ideas Event.”
  2. Stage 2: Idea Development. At this juncture Trigger #2 emerges, “A Negative Legitimizing Event” occurs.
  3. Stage 3: Change. It is at this point that Route A (Trajectory for Group Exit) and Route B (Trajectory for Group Retention) become visible even though often subtle. It is at this stage that the third Trigger called “The Alarm Event” becomes visible.
  4. Stage 4: Resistance. It is essential that leaders recognize that resistance to change will appear no matter what the catalyst, but during Stage 4 leaders begin to determine whether the debated changes will bring resistance that leads to Trigger 4, “A Polarizing Event” or “A Harmonizing Event.”
  5. Stage 5: Intense Conflict/Dissonant Harmony. A church in the change process will begin to demonstrate, intentionally or unintentionally, whether they will work toward unity or division. At Stage 5 on Route A, Trigger 5 gives way to “The Justifying Event.” On Route B at Stage 5 there is a carryover of Trigger 4, “The Harmonizing Event” that brings about change embedded in unity.
  6. Stage 6: Group Exit/Group Retention. The proceeding stages and triggers will determine if Stage 6 brings a “Group Exit” from a church due to polarization or if the church can embrace change in way that brings “Group Harmony” that empowers the church to become revitalized.

CONCLUSION:  Pgs. 169-182

Dr. Whitesel does an excellent job of unraveling the complex process of change that has been harmful to so many churches. The author shows leaders a very practical way of looking at change as a process of eventual growth and unity. As Whitesel writes, so it is true, “…the church can become a model to the world of conciliation, diplomacy, patience, and conflict resolution – all in the midst of change” (p.176).

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Believe that change can be a healthy process that brings glory to God and revitalization to the local church if pursued intentionally and carefully.
  2. Empower local church leaders to understand the “6 Stages” of change that can either lead to group exit or group retention.
  3. Work together to bring about needed church transition by understanding the “Triggers” as outlined on Route A and Route B.
  4. Realize that all change will have the potential to cause “friction, tension, and uncertainly among congregants,” but through a process of “unhurried, prayer-infused, and bi-partisan strategy,” unity can be preserved and the Good News can be shared (p.170).
  5. Regularly scheduled change communication, based on the “6 Stages and the 5 Triggers,” must be woven into the fabric of every church as leaders continue to remain relevant in a constantly changing culture.

 

SACRED COWS & A case study on how to modernize them (go slow = build unity)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: With my students and clients I talk about how to identify and modernize “sacred cows.” These are traditions, artifacts or sometimes even people who so embody some tradition or history that they appear unlikely to be changed. But they can be changed and modernized, only it must be done slowly and after building consensus. I explain more about how to do this in the book “Preparing for Change Reaction,” in the chapter: “Go Slow Build Consensus and Succeed.”

Here is how one of my students intuitively applied this principle (used by permission):

RE: “Sacred Cows”

I have pastored churches in most all contexts. The sacred cows spoken of are evidenced in every context.

I have discovered that the sacred cows are best sacrificed by way of a very clear strategic vision where everyone (or almost everyone) is moving in the same direction. It is then that the sacred cows are seen as a detriment to achieving the vision goals and are more easily dealt with.

To get rid of the old organ in one church, it took about 18 months to actually remove it. One of the old saints who had died before my arrival used to play it every Sunday. Her husband, who was a board member and wonderful saint himself, would place a bulletin on the organ for his deceased wife every Sunday. We never ever played the organ, however, I could not remove it physically until after the husband passed away.

Sometimes it just makes sense to leave things for a season.