15 Sep #086 – Integriosity – Re-Align Ingredient #1 – Flexible Approach
ESSENCE: The third step in the path of Integriosity®–RE-ALIGN–is when a leader and an organization begin actually implementing change and alignment rather than just learning (RENEW) and dreaming (RE-IMAGINE). The first key ingredient needed for successful execution is a flexible approach. Faithfully “doing right” through “business a better way” requires alignment with Biblical beliefs, values and priorities, but it does NOT require overt “faith” language, symbols and practices. Both the idolization of “overtness” and the fear of being overt may lead to poor stewardship. “Business a better way” is about heart change–“business as usual” dressed with overt faith symbols is still “business as usual”. The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums. The continuum approach gives permission to be “wise” about overtness, providing a structure within which prayerfully to consider the most appropriate balance for the particular organization at a point in time. The most important step is getting on the continuums, because any place along a continuum is better than no place on a continuum.
While there are many ways for a leader and an organization to think about and organize executing the goals that surface in the RE-IMAGINE step of Integriosity®, we believe there are five key ingredients for executing a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture. In this post, we will explain the first ingredient–a Flexible Approach.
Re-Align Ingredient #1: Flexible Approach
It may seem ironic (or even inappropriate) to quote Jeff Bezos in a post about faithfully “doing right”, but one of his key leadership principles captures the first key ingredient of the Re-Align step of Integriosity:
Be stubborn on vision and flexible on details.
“vision”=Purpose and Values=WHY. “details”=Execution=HOW. As we have repeated over and over (and over and over) again in prior posts, the WHY of an organization and its leaders is at the heart of “business a better way”. WHY is reflected in a Re-Imagined Purpose. Purpose is the cornerstone and Values are the foundation that must define and drive Culture, and Culture needs to reflect and reinforce Purpose and Values.
Faithfully “doing right” through “business a better way” requires a Re-Imagined Purpose and Re-Imagined Values that align with Biblical beliefs, values and priorities, but we believe it does NOT require expressing or implementing that Re-Imagined Purpose or those Re-Imagined Values in overtly “faith” language. In fact, being overt may be absolutely the wrong execution–poor stewardship–for a particular organization, given factors such as the industry, geographic location, customer base, employee base, and regulatory environment. For example, being overt may alienate key stakeholders or create an “us-them” culture.
Being overt about faith is neither inherently good nor inherently bad for an organization. Both the idolization of “overtness” and the fear of being overt may push a leader down a Side Road. A leader leading an organization to faithfully “do right” through “business a better way” must be STUBBORN about a Biblically-aligned Purpose and Values (and a Culture that reflects and reinforces that Purpose and those Values) but FLEXIBLE on how those are expressed and implemented.
Re-Align Ingredient #1: Flexibility Through Continuums
Matthew 10:16 cautions to be “wise as serpents”, and we believe the “wise” approach to faithfully “doing right” through “business a better way” is a flexible approach. The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums. There is nothing magic about these categories, but we think they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture.
- Covert-Overt Continuums
Each continuum goes from COVERT to OVERT and represents areas in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.
Hopefully you recall our discussion in earlier posts of the Placebo we call The “Add Some Faith” Pill and its related Side Road of Cosmeticizing. These can lead to the idolization of overtness. The “Add Some Faith” Pill can deceive a leader into believing that the integration of faith and work is principally about sprinkling some “faith” pixie dust over the organization to make it look and feel “Godly”. Cosmeticizing is when an organization adopts overt faith symbols and practices without transforming how it actually does business. Business as usual dressed with overt faith symbols is still business as usual. At the opposite end of the spectrum, many leaders faced with the bad theology of The “Add Some Faith” Pill are intimidated by the idea of overt faith initiatives and do nothing at all.
Integriosity focuses on heart change, and the continuum approach gives permission to be “wise” about overtness, providing a structure within which prayerfully to consider the most appropriate balance for the particular organization at a point in time. The most important step is getting on the continuums, because any place along a continuum is better than no place on the continuum.
Be stubborn on vision and flexible on details. (Jeff Bezos)
Re-Align Ingredient #1: Using the Continuums
The Integriosity model breaks the COVERT-OVERT Continuums into six gradations that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time. No single place along a continuum is the “right place”. The “right place” will be unique for each organization and leader. The “right place” for a particular organization and leader will come through prayer and is likely to evolve over time. It is about ABIDING in the leading of the Holy Spirit–not STRIVING to look “faithful”.
- Highly Covert: An action that would be taken by a secular company.
- Very Covert: An overtly faith-based action known only to the leader.
- Covert: An overtly faith-based action known only to a select group within the organization.
- Overt: An overtly faith-based action known generally within the organization.
- Very Overt: An overtly faith-based action involving suppliers, vendors or customers
- Highly Overt: An overtly faith-based action involving community, website, sales/marketing materials.
For example, on the Prayer Continuum organizing Bible studies and prayer groups open to all employees would be Overt, while a leader praying privately for the business or hiring confidential intercessors would be Very Covert. On the Practices Continuum, creating a “Culture Office” to promote the Re-Imagined Culture would be Highly Covert but making Bibles or other faith-based literature available to employees would be Overt.
At the COVERT end, initiatives may look just like initiatives that an enlightened secular organization might implement. The difference–and it is a BIG DIFFERENCE–is the WHY behind the initiative–because that makes ALL the difference. The faith-driven leader is putting the initiative in place because it represents faithfully “doing right” in furtherance of “business a better way” in alignment with Biblical beliefs, values and priorities. The secular business is likely putting the initiative in place because its leaders have determined that, in the long-run, it is good for bottom-line in furtherance of Profit as Purpose and “business as usual” (or, at a minimum, they believe it is not inconsistent with Profit as Purpose). A recent Wall Street Journal article about the trend toward “mission-driven” companies notes “A big part of it is still about the money, namely chasing consumers’ pocketbooks and trillions of dollars of potential investment from environmental, social and governance funds.”
We believe it is time to begin executing “business a better way” in alignment with Biblical beliefs, values and priorities–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.
SPOILER ALERT: Our next few posts will explore the other key ingredients for executing a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture—Intentional Leaders, Trust, Prayer and Patience.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): The concept of the COVERT-OVERT Continuums is at the core of Integriosity. In fact, before even developing the Integriosity model, I spent a year teaching myself FileMaker (the Apple database solution) and building a fairly complex (at least for a database novice) database structure that would make it easy to categorize, retrieve and track organizational practices based upon organizations using them, their Continuums and their place along the Continuums. As I populated the database, I began to realize just how much of the existing faith-work content was focused almost exclusively on actions at the Highly Overt to Overt end of the Continuums. With that realization, I also gained a deeper understanding of why so many leaders revert to the Side Roads of Individualizing, Monetizing or Cosmeticizing.