If you have not picked up a copy of Less Clutter Less Noise: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures and Bake Sales by Kem Meyer yet, order it today. Churches, non-profits, and business alike can learn how to better communicate to their audience from this book. Kem spent 15 years in the corporate communications and internet strategy world and currently is the Communications Director at Granger Community Church. She blogs at http://www.kemmeyer.typepad.com/ and can be found on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kemmeyer. I was really excited to get the chance to be a stop on the Less Clutter Less Noise Blog Tour.
What are some principles and strategies for transforming a silo-structured communications environment, where ministries are allowed to compete for attention with your main message?
Ah, the ministry silos. The connections department runs its own campaign and doesn’t see what’s being communicated by the volunteer areas, the missions area, the student ministry area, the children’s area, the men’s and women’s ministry teams, the pastor, and others. The missions department does its own thing. The student leaders do their own thing. And, the pattern repeats throughout the whole church.
The result? Individual departments end up competing against each other with a carnival communication style trying to out-yell or out-explain.
More people should be asking this same question, but find it too exhausting to tackle. It’s simply easier to just ignore silos and let people do their own thing. Jeremy, I applaud you for tackling the transformation. I can’t tell you how to reach the destination, but I can tell you how to start. This is an ongoing process that you never fully conquer, but you can steer people in a more productive direction.
In an organization, interdependencies exist among each other—resources and assets. We thrive when we have the ability to negotiate among these dependencies and find a middle ground where empowerment and decision-making align. If we each serve up a different experience, run off in our own individual directions—information gets lost or isolated. People and projects proliferate—as does confusion. This creates real liabilities for the church as a whole and puts a lid on overall impact.
The only way to resolve these types of issues is to connect multiple areas to operate as part of a larger family.
• Use the same mission statement. If everyone is working toward the same goal, there will be less territorialism and more teamwork. Every ministry, every team, every employee, every volunteer leader should be looking at the same mission statement. Multiple, unique mission statements across a single organization create chaos, conflict and breeds more ministry silos. One mission statement transcends specific departments to unify the whole. Our mission statement at Granger is “Helping people take their next step toward Christ…together.” That mission statement applies to every ministry. It doesn’t mean the mission statement action steps can’t be tailored to a specific audience. But, everybody is working toward the same goal, like-minded, maintaining alignment. “Helping students take their next step toward Christ…together.” “Helping women take their next step toward Christ…together.” “Helping people afraid of dogs take their next steps toward Christ…together.”
• Use one budget for the whole church. There’s different categories for each ministry, but one church budget.
• One database. Single version of reality—reports and contacts.
• One web site. One church, multiple ministries. Not the other way around. A house doesn’t have multiple front doors, why would a church have multiple web sites?
• One kitchen. Not individual cabinets for different ministries. 🙂
All of these steps help…it just takes time and you have to tackle them one at a time. All along the way, you’ll have more success if you can effectively communicate what’s at risk if you don’t do this. Nobody will be motivated to change their “old way of doing things” if they don’t know what’s at stake. It’s up to you to cast vision for a bigger story. One everybody is part of, not a bunch of little stories that send schizophrenic messages to outsiders. The further along the list you get, the easier it will be for you to start implementing centralized systems that everybody uses for communications. But, you have to start with the core controls like mission, vision, budget and kitchen.
Many thanks to Kem for taking the time to stop by the blog and share some insights. Remember that what you communicate is not only found in what you say, on paper or on your web site. What you don’t say, how you fail to respond, and how your property looks are just a few other ways you are communicating with people. As part of the blog tour Kem has grasciously provided a free copy of Less Clutter Less Noise for one of you lucky Fish is the New Cheese readers. I will pick a winner at random from those who leave a comment to the question below. Buy a copy of Less Clutter Less Noise for the person who works on your bulletin, website, and pick up a copy for your administrative assistant. Everybody in your organization needs to know what you want communicated and how you want it said.
Open up your bulletin, walk your hall and look at the walls and literature center, check your web site, and think about what you announced and promoted at your last service. How many different messages did your church or non-profit communicate vocally, in print or on the web in the past week? Type your answer in the comments section below.