youth worker, youth ministry, drive

Values Drive Culture

By Doug Franklin December 23, 2010

Over the past few months at LeaderTreks, I have noticed that systems are starting to drive some of our culture. We have worked very hard in our trip ministry to be effective and efficient. The move towards efficiency has stifled the value we place on transformation, resulting in a battle between systems and culture. It is very easy for an organization to move from being driven by values to being driven by systems. Systems are necessary for any organization to function properly, but they are harmful when prioritized over values. Values-driven organizations use the following techniques to maintain focus:

1. Use Outside Eyes
Have an outsider evaluate how you are living out your values. People inside the organization are too close to the action to see what is happening. Decisions feel right in the moment, but may inflict long-term damage. Ask a trusted friend or another youth pastor to do a evaluation of your ministry based on your stated values. The findings may surprise you.

2. Meeting Design
Start meetings with a focus on your values rather than the fire immediately in front of you. Issues within an organization have potential to derail our values very quickly. Remember that fires are part of every ministry and organization. Choose to focus mainly on your values rather than overreacting to problems that arise.
3. Administrative Changes
Most administrative changes happen because of systems creation. Continually ask yourself if this new system drives the organization, or does it support us as pursue our values?

4. Visionary Leadership
Who is making major decisions in your ministry or organization? If an operationally-focused person leads, systems will drive your organization. If a visionary makes the major decisions, values will drive your organization. Problems arise when visionaries make all the decisions (just ask anyone on my team), but it’s vital that the visionary maintain leadership in order for the organization or ministry to be values-driven. Look at Apple computer company — when they placed managers in charge, the company fell apart; when the visionary returned, the company prospered. 

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More