Friday, 8 February 2008

Are religious organisations just like any others?

The Stranzblog is currently in Rome attending a course on management and spirituality. Travel was via the night train - it's now 18 months since I took a plane and I'm trying to do all my European travel by train. Acommodation in Rome is courtesy of Giorgio and Luca - who are wonderfully hospitable.
Today we've been looking at systemic analyses of organisations - it's been quite a discipline to go deep enough to see what is going on in the various systems that make up our organisations. Trying to know everthing about a situation and gather ever more information is not the only thing analysis requires. Looking at the issues from new angles, depersonalising them and seeing issues and crises that occur as the product of of the systems that produce them was what we were trying to do today.
As I look back on the day I can see how liberating a systemic approach is. It helps to stand back from the need to firefight the human psychodramas what sometimes rage within any organisation. I thought particularly about how this approach could be helpful in getting churches going through crises to stand back and better understand what is happening to them and causing tensions run so high. So often we find it easier to "blame" human beings rather than looking at the systems which have produced situations.
It's helpful too for religious organisations to use a tool which comes from another discipline. Of course no organisation is exactly like any other, but looking at religious organisations in this way helps to desacralise them, but there's quite a bit of resistance to doing that too!
Anyway, more about this in days to come - if the upcoming central committee of WCC allows any time for blogging.


Gustavo Bonato said...

Jane!!! You've touched the issue that always annoyed me about WCC! It misses a professional and organized approach to it's tasks. To bring church people to manage an international organisation may not be the best for its efficiency! Church background is great and essential when it comes to discussing issues, but the same church approach to administration can be terrible! Have you heard about ISO 9000? I wish one day WCC Central Committee challenges the council to adopt it. It would be THE greatest change! But that's just a dream...

Jane said...

Hey Gustavo!
Great to hear from you. I do know a bit about ISO 9000 - I imagine JEan-Nicolas knows a lot more, as do our colleagues in finance.
Actually I'm also really interested in good governance and those more intuitive models of organising as well as in standardisation models. One of the things we looked at was a leadership of curves and spirals - a sort of iterative process.
The idea is that just as no human being is ever perfectly healthy so no organisation can be either - but that's not an excuse for not trying!!
How are you??