#038 – Integriosity – Renew – Biblical Principles – Management Matters

As we begin to explore the first stage of Integriosity®–RENEW—it is important to note that just the way in which an organization is managed matters.  WHO the leaders “show up as” and HOW the organization “does what it does” can have intrinsic value in God’s Kingdom before even considering the services it provides or the products it produces.

Some people imagine that a faith-based organization must be:

  • Engaged in providing goods and services that seem “holy” or “socially beneficial” (e.g., publishing or selling faith-based books or producing something that alleviates pain or poverty),
  • Providing its goods and services for people who are disadvantaged (e.g., providing water treatment in third world countries) or
  • Actively engaged in community projects (e.g., organizing employees to refurbish homes or tutor children in disadvantaged areas).

In fact, it might suggest that all faith-based businesses need to be “B-Corps” with an explicit and embedded “social purpose” that can be monitored and regulated by the government and “certifying” organizations (and you hopefully read in an earlier post that we are not fans of the B-Corp movement for several reasons).  While faith-based organizations may well fall into one of these categories or pursue B-Corp status, we believe it is much too narrow a worldview of God’s purpose for work and business.

In his book To Change the World, James Hunter makes an important observation: “To manage a business in a way that grows out of a Biblical view of relationships, community and human dignity before God has divine significance irrespective of what else might be done from this platform.”  Integriosity is about changing the heart of the organization.  When the leaders of a widget manufacturer perceive a bigger WHY for what they do, it will impact WHO they show up as to their various stakeholders (employees, customers, vendors, owners, communities) and HOW the organization makes the widgets (including HOW it treats those various stakeholders).  That will change the culture, which will, in turn, impact WHO the employees “show up as” and HOW they “do what they do”.

To manage a business in a way that grows out of a Biblical view of relationships, community and human dignity before God has divine significance irrespective of what else might be done from this platform. (James Hunter)

While a bigger WHY might also change WHAT the organization produces (as products and services are evaluated on the basis of that bigger WHY rather than purely on financial ROI), the organization can be living its bigger purpose even if it just keeps making widgets.  Of course, as McKinsey pointed out in an article about purpose: “What’s needed is relatively clear: it’s deep reflection on your corporate identity—what you really stand for—which may well lead to material changes in your strategy and even your governance (such as your status as a public company, a private company, or a public benefit corporation).

But that also means a widget manufacturer trying to faithfully “do right” is not exempt from pursuing a bigger WHY than profit maximization because it “just makes widgets”.  Integriosity and “business a better way” are for all organizations and leaders serious about faith/work integration and serious about integrity who want their organizations to “do right”.

SPOILER ALERT:  One of the key elements of the third stage of Integriosity—RE-ALIGN is cultivating Intentional Leaders, committed to (1) a WHO identity, (2) a bigger WHY, (3) curating culture and (4) authenticity.

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM):  There have been few books that have impacted me as profoundly as To Change the World by James Hunter.  Here is the grossly oversimplified synopsis I give to people who are curious.

  • There are three parts to the book:
    • In part 1, Hunter examines from a sociological perspective (he is a renowned sociologist) cultural change over time and the factors that have resulted in lasting change.
    • In part 2, Hunter looks at the way the Evangelical church in America has engaged culture. He considers three paradigms:  Christian right, Christian left and Neo-Anabaptist.  He concludes that there is no surprise these three paradigms have been ineffective in shifting culture and that, based on history, they are doomed to fail.
    • In part 3, Hunter proposes an alternative theology of “faithful presence”. In his words, “A theology of faithful presence calls Christians to enact the shalom of God in the circumstances in which God has placed them and to actively seek it on behalf of others. . . . What this means is that where and to the extent that we are able, faithful presence commits us to do what we can to create conditions in the structures of social life we inhabit that are conducive to the flourishing of all.
  • Faithful Presence is living out “Love Your Neighbor” by seeking the flourishing of others, even as you manufacture widgets.
  • Pursuing Faithful Presence with a WHY that it is “doing right” because it is how God first loved us will change the world (i.e., no agenda other than reflecting God’s love), but pursuing Faithful Presence with a WHY (aka, agenda) of changing the world will fail. That is the reason I believe WHY matters for leaders and an organization more than anything else.
Copyright © 2020 Integrous LLC.  Integriosity is a registered Service Mark of Integrous LLC.