Leading change is a big part of what we do. We’re constantly improving services, programs and events. However, there are times where we are required to create something entirely new, something that doesn’t yet exist. Maybe what we need to create is something that already exists  somewhere else (which makes duplicating a little easier) or perhaps what we’re creating is completely new. It exists only in your imagination.

Creating something out of nothing can be really challenging. Some people are so desperate for something better, they’re willing to do whatever it takes and endure the hardship of birthing something new. However, most people don’t like change. They’ll embrace a dying program/event because it’s comfortable and what they know. They’ll be resistant to the idea of change from the very beginning and if things don’t materialize pretty quickly, they’ll be the first to jump ship.

So, to pull off these kinds of changes, I employ two strategies at the same time:

  • Compartmentalize your changes
  • Fake it ’till you make it

Today, let’s dive into the first strategy:

Compartmentalize your change

Rarely do we change everything all at once. In a larger context, it might be quite the feat to make a ministry-wise shift. It will take more volunteers and resources than you have at your disposal. Change can be hard and require a lot of maintenance throughout the process. It can be easier to adjust and maintain one area as opposed to maintain the entire thing all at once. This strategy allows you to create a very positive experience for change, which helps the people who weren’t excited about the change to buy in quickly and become fans.

It’s like having $500 to redecorate some of my kid’s environments. I could split the $500 between ten rooms and make a small dent. Maybe I can replace some broken or worn-out equipment. I might even be able to utilize volunteers and repaint the environments. However, the change isn’t significant and it won’t make nearly as much difference as I would have hoped. However, I could invest the full $500 into just one room. Immediately, it creates a buzz. People start asking, “are we going to do this to the other rooms?” It creates energy and it helps people to see the vision making it even easier to make the change.

We compartmentalized change when when shifted from every-other-week volunteers to weekly volunteer teams. Our initial change was in elementary. Over one summer, we transitioned all of our small group leaders to every week volunteers. Most of our volunteers shifted, a few became subs and we recruited a bunch more. We barely had enough volunteers to pull it off and it took another year to get enough volunteers to fully cover all the groups. If we had transitioned the entire ministry all at once, we probably would have failed everywhere. The following year, we began to transitioned our preschool environments to weekly serving teams. We transitioned room by room. We knew that if every room had even one volunteer who served every-other-week, weekly volunteers we had recruited would be tempted to move to the easier schedule. We worked hard to make sure that an entire room went to a weekly schedule and this created momentum in these rooms. Other rooms would see the success of what was happening here and would request similar attention. It took well over six months, but we were able to transition every preschool environment to weekly volunteers and we’ve never looked back.

When you’re looking at changes you need to make, how can you divide the change into smaller compartments to make your change more successful?