In the last two videos I covered how taking little bets using a Design Thinking approach can get your church moving and in touch with your community. It’s hard to do this without adaptive leadership.
Adaptive leadership is an approach that can move your ministry through complex or dynamic change. It distinguishes between two types of problems, technical problems and adaptive problems.
A technical problem can be addressed with existing expertise, and responsibility for implementing solutions falls with the leader. It doesn’t mean the leader has all the answers, but the leader needs to marshall people and resources to solve the problem.
An adaptive problem occurs when the solution lies outside of the current way of operation. It not only requires new learning and creative solutions, it requires the collaboration of everyone involved, including those who are being served.
What’s really challenging about solving adaptive problems is that it may require changing beliefs, values and/or approaches. This is threatening. In the church, when “we’ve always done it this way before,” an adaptive challenge is threatening.
The most important thing to remember when facing an adaptive challenge is to distinguish between leadership and authority.
In his book “Leadership Without Easy Answers,” Ronald Heifitz argues that leadership is not the same as authority. Leadership isn’t about holding a formal position, although often they do. Leading without authority means influencing others to act willingly rather than acting because you’re their boss and you tell them to. It’s inspiring others to move forward, even when the answers are unclear.
The church needs adaptive leaders now more than ever. When you combine this approach with little bets and Design Thinking, you are opening yourself to the grace of God working through you. You can’t do any better than that.