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The Great Reset

June 1, 2010

The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity

After three months of involuntary latency due to a really scary staph infection, I’m Back! It is like having a fresh new start. Twenty-five pounds lighter, a fresh vision and ready to rumble. The group I founded 25 years ago has rebranded itself “100X” with a new mission: “Accelerating the impact of 100X leaders.” This means not only in our familiar realm of churches and Halftimers, but making room for new initiatives. Everyone is pumped up. What fun!

I feel like I’m like Rip Van Winkle waking up in a brand new world that one writer calls “The Great Reset.” Richard Florida, the author of a new © 2010 book by this title, makes a compelling case in this amazingly positive book that prior Great Depressions (he cites 1870 and the 1930’s) bear a striking resemblance to the economic crisis we are currently living through. The previous periods have been characterized by “creative destruction” leading to waves of systems innovation that displaced outdated forms with new technological and social infrastructure. Many writers are presently calling this period The New Normal, a kind of symmetry in the midst of tumult.

Tom Friedman echoes the Great Reset theme when he says we can’t bail our way out of the mess we find ourselves in with government subsidies. He says (and I believe) the only way out is to Innovate our way out – system wide. It is the American Way – perhaps our preeminent remaining strength in an age when an I.E.D. (Improvised Explosive Device) costing $100 brings down an armored HumVee (costing $150,000).

One of the surprising examples of innovation is the United States Army. I haven’t said much about the publishing ventures in which I am involved through The Drucker Foundation (now Leader to Leader), Leadership Network, and Halftime where we have cumulatively published over 1.5 million books. One of the best, titled Be Know Do, is based on the Army Leadership Manual. Army leaders of all ranks are no longer trained in a hierarchical manner: Disbursed leadership, recently displayed in the Oscar-winning Best Picture, The Hurt Locker, is the key to the success of the Army leadership model. The soldiers in Afghanistan have to be prepared to call their own shots.

Peter Drucker says of Be Know Do, “The Army trains and develops more leaders than all other institutions altogether – and with a lower casualty rate. Be Know Do shows how this is being done – and how it can be adapted by the nonmilitary: businesses, colleges and universities, nonprofits, and churches.”

As Peter suggests, we, in 100X, are finding leadership closer to the action is the key to growing churches and Halftimers like Dale Dawson seeking to make a difference in Rwanda. They are Managing Themselves.  They are innovating.

The results of hierarchical church forms are, sorry to say, dismal – the average decline in mainline churches (Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran) is around 50 percent, according to church historian, Rodney Stark. By comparison, the more independent megachurches that Leadership Network serves (over 1,000 in weekend worship attendance) have grown in number from around 100 in the mid-80’s to over 7,000 today.

These churches, like the U.S. Army, are widely disbursed. In a shift that I call “large becoming smaller,” their disbursed techniques include small groups, multi-site locations, church plants, and an unending variety of situation specific community initiatives. For example, one group of churches who Leadership Network convenes to share ideas and experiences every six months are all vigorously committed to serving community initiatives beyond the four walls of their mostly suburban churches. They (sixty churches in all) chose “Volunteer Service Hours” as their measuring stick. They have increased their output by 300% in their time together. They innovate, exchange ideas, and teach one another — what works at ground level and what does not. It is exciting to see.  The volunteers, who do the work, arguably, receive a greater benefit than those they serve!

On the Halftime side, the stories that prove that one person can really make a difference are just remarkable – all very unique and personal. For example, Dave Lindsey, who participated in a Halftime Institute just last week, once a year takes his family and the families of people who work in his company, Defender Direct, to build Homes of Hope for the poor in Mexico. Lindsey says it is a remarkable relationship- building activity well worth the time and money he spends. They built thirty new homes last year!  Entrepreneur Chris Crane led Opportunities International, a Third World micro-lending enterprise, to remarkable growth in scope and funding. See my book, Finishing Well, and Lloyd Reeb’s book, The Second Half, for many more stories.

My primary hope these days is trying to understand what we call Generation Next. This could be the most vibrant group of all. My hunch is that innovators and entrepreneurs in the 25-45 age range will be the Next Big Thing in American Christianity. They are technologically empowered to raise money and lead initiatives on a highly individualized basis worldwide. This week Linda and I are meeting five Teach for America teachers whom we sponsor in Dallas. I expect we will learn a lot. My new mentors are younger than I am. Fresh faces! And fun!

The Great Reset goes by a variety of names: The Externally Focused Church (Leadership Network), Missional Renaissance (Leadership Network), Nation Building at Home (Tom Friedman) Generation Next, the New Normal, disbursed leadership, the Level 5 Generation (Jim Collins), The New Realities (Peter Drucker).

Any way you look at it, it is a rearrangement of Be Know Do. The emphasis in churches has been disproportionally on Knowing. It strikes me that knowing is now taken for granted as a prerequisite. The emphasis is shifting to Being lived out in Doing – from proclamation to demonstration. It is an exchange of money and minutes for meaning.

So What about You?

Is this the picture you see looking out your window?

Wise Words About Disbursed Power – True for Armies, Education, Entrepreneurship, Churches.

“While national governments in the United States and around the world are mired in ideological conflict, partisan gridlock, and bureaucratic stasis, political leaders in cities, countries, and states around the world are crafting new, pragmatic solutions to pressing social and economic problems. … That the right place to make decisions … is the local level because local actors have the deepest knowledge about their communities.”

— The Great Reset (paraphrased)

A shorter version:

“Think Globally. Act locally.”

— Tip O’Neill

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