In my continued discussion on the book, Good to Great by Jim Collins and his research team determined what key things differentiate a good company from a great company, and how this may apply in the LDS Church, we now discuss the next concept:
Confronting the Brutal Facts
Too many companies and organizations fail because they do not confront the brutal facts. Problems arise, but are often ignored because no one wants to deal with the facts that what has been done in the past does not work now, or worse: never worked but was part of a long held tradition.
Such ignored issues may include a product that is severely flawed (Morton Thiokol’s space shuttle E-ring), a process that is severely flawed (how banks, the market and the US government dealt with housing loans), a belief that hiding one’s problems from everyone will give time to fix things (Enron), etc. Each of these major disasters (Morton Thiokol, Housing Loans, Enron) could have been avoided if the facts had been openly dealt with.
Good to Great teaches us some key concepts:
- Develop a “Culture of Truth”.
- People always have an opportunity to be heard.
- The truth is heard by those who need to hear it.
- Lead with questions, not answers.
- Ask good questions that encourage discussion and debate.
- Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion.
- Conduct autopsies without blame. Learn from failure.
- Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored.
These are concepts that are of absolute necessity for a church Council to function properly. Whether the Quorum of Twelve, a ward Council, or a family council, nothing can truly be resolved and fixed without a process as listed above.
If parents or leaders tend to lie or hide skeletons in the closet, then issues of trust arise. I praise the Church for opening up its archives for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, John Turner’s Brigham Young book, etc. We can now deal with issues such as polygamy/polyandry, Mountain Meadows Massacre, etc.
When lay members and those on the councils feel the leaders are hearing and listening to them, it opens the door for discussion on what things do not work and which solutions are possible. Those who can make the changes then get the chance to hear of the problems, so they can be problem solvers.
Good questions that stir up discussion are necessary to get to the root of issues. I’ve been in units that the Council will spend their entire time talking on how sad they feel for a certain individual or family that is struggling, yet will not get to the discussion on how to resolve problems. While nothing gets done, people suffer.
If something goes wrong, do an autopsy. Do not blame anyone, but get to the root causes for the problem, and jointly seek how to resolve the issue. Where possible problems can arise, setting up a system of red flags means you can catch problems early, rather than after the crash that requires an autopsy.
Building a culture of truth and openess should be extremely important for any organization, but particularly for families and church councils.