I LOVE systems. I LOVE the efficiency. I LOVE the productivity. I LOVE the automation. However, there is a very dangerous side to every system and I see the negative impact of a strong process all the time. Sometime the system is elevated above the people.

We’re in ministry, which is the people business. Sometimes people don’t fit into our system. Their personalities and habits are completely unpredictable and they don’t do what we expect. They pop out of the plan and process we’re “working” and then we get irritated. We say things like, “Why won’t they call me back?” “Why do they have to be so difficult?” “Don’t they know that we have a way of doing things here?”

Yes, this is irritating. I have a very efficient process for contacting people via email and communicating and that one person who insists on calling me instead of emailing me is frustrating. I can communicate with 99.9% of everyone with one email, but I’ll have to spend 10 minutes on the phone with that one person.

We just have to keep it all in perspective. At least we didn’t have to have 10 minute conversations with the 99.9%. People should always trump our system. When the people we serve feel like they’re getting “worked,” there is a problem. When they feel like they’re a task or being automated, we’ve got it all wrong. People come first and if we can get more done by automating certain tasks that actually enhance a personable experience, that’s where systems win.

When putting together task, ask yourself the question, “Are people getting a more personable experience because of this system?” If the answer is no, then you need to rethink the system.

If the system gives you more face-time with people and allows the people you serve to have a more or better interaction with humans, that’s what you’re after.