Posts Tagged ‘ organizational management

God’s Perspective On Children: A Scriptural Reminder

My wife and I were recently blessed with the birth of our eighth child (and fifth boy), Samuel Paul. It is fitting that the eternal Son of God revealed His glory in human history as a baby, for according to Him babies are the truest representation of a citizen of God’s kingdom (Mark 10:14b). In fact, God so identifies with children that how we treat them is used as a litmus test for one’s very connection to God Himself: “Whoever receives one child like this in my name receives me” (Mark 9:37a).

Beliefs drive behavior. Principles determine practice. Values motivate investment. If our beliefs are informed by the God of the Bible then the question for us is not, “What is my opinion about abortion?” but rather, “What is God’s perspective on children?” The answer to this question will determine how well we understand our relationship to God as well as how we expect children to be treated.

Jesus placed the highest priority on children. He is intensely aware of how they are treated rewarding those who bless them, even with something as simple as a ‘cup of cold water’ (Matthew 10:42), and cursing those that harm them with a fate worse than death (Mark 9:42).

Placing the highest priority on children of all classes of human being is not a new idea introduced in the New Testament. We see the same priority placed on children in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 20:1-5 any Jew and even non-Jew found sacrificing a child to the demonic god Molech was to be stoned to death along with his whole family. But there was a catch. If someone finds out about another person sacrificing their child to this god Molech and does nothing about it they will suffer the same punishment as if they had done it themselves! This is the only place in all of the Old Testament law where the moral responsibility of the sin of one man is placed on the shoulders of another man just because he knew about it and didn’t do anything to stop it.

Even more than that, God places the highest priority of protection on children in the womb found in Exodus 21:22-25. Here if one accidentally causes a woman to miscarry the husband has a right to “appoint as a penalty a life for a life” (Ex. 21:23b). This represents the highest protection afforded any class of human being and it is specifically pre-born children. Note that the scenario represents an accident. What if the harm to a child in the womb was intentional? Perhaps “it would be better for him if, with a heavy mill stone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42b).

While the Biblical witness is clear that God wants children to be protected and blessed Jesus drives home the point to His disciples in Mark 10:13-16 and adds a key piece of information; the answer to the question, ‘Why?’ The answer Jesus gives is because, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these [babies]” (Mark 10:14b).

So exactly what is it about babies that makes them the ultimate example of a citizen of heaven such that if we don’t understand it ourselves we’re disqualified as citizens? Babies are voiceless, powerless, without influence or rights in this world. They of any class of human are the most vulnerable and defenseless unless someone takes responsibility for them. In fact babies in the womb are the only class of person in the United States of America who has been officially dehumanized. In 1973 the Supreme Court decided in the infamous case of Roe v Wade that pre-born children are not human, thereby stripping them of their God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So why not abortion? It is ironic that the court of supreme American justice committed the highest crime against humanity by dehumanizing the most vulnerable of citizens paving the way for legalized infanticide. And unless someone stands in the gap and takes responsibility for these babies, they will perish.

The status of powerless babies in the womb in the U.S. mirrors our condition before a holy God. We are without power, influence, and voice. Were it not for the work of Christ on the cross we would have no standing before a just God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross we have been gifted with a voice, power and influence before God the Father and we are to wield those tools as Christ did, not for Himself but rather on behalf of others. In taking the gift of salvation the Christ child offers us we acknowledge His Kingship over our lives and our obligation to sacrificially bless and protect those who cannot do so for themselves; the disenfranchised, dehumanized babies in the womb. “Permit the little children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:15).

Improving Mission Effectivness for 2011

As executives we face a myriad of daily challenges. Everything from dealing with individual client issues, staffing challenges, donor communications, media inquiries, to running board and committee meetings, etc clamor for our time. If we are not careful we will miss doing what only you and I as executives can do for the organization; maintaining focus on the mission. As management guru Peter Drucker says, “Every non-profit institution exists for the sake of performance in changing people and society. But how often do we make decisions about what we do from day to day based on the medical clinic or pregnancy center’s performance?

Drucker goes on to say, “The most important task of an organization’s leader is to anticipate crisis.” He says this for several reasons. First, a crisis is always looming on the horizon. To think otherwise is unwise. We may not be able to avoid it but at least we can anticipate it. Anticipation allows for better preparation. Our organizations can never be fully prepared which is why leadership amidst the crisis is so critical. Second anticipating a crisis forces innovation or what is often called continuous improvement. We begin to ask ourselves, “How can we keep accomplishing our mission in a down economy?” or “How can we continue to provide the same services under greater governmental restriction?” It forces us to work ‘on’ the ministry rather than working ‘in’ it. It forces us to empower others to do the tasks that others can do so that we can focus on what no one else can do for the organization. Third, anticipation provides the necessary courage for us to make the hard choices of trimming the services that are not getting the results we need to get for the mission while at the same time providing clarity to communicate rationale to the organization’s constituents why certain decisions have to be made.

Of course, to effectively anticipate a crisis so as to avoid it or weather it one must be the steward of a mission that is laser focused. Without a laser focused mission it becomes virtually impossible to anticipate crisis. One might even be tempted to say, “Only God knows the future!” and go on doing the 501 piranha school of tasks nibbling for your time. This is the path toward organizational mission drift and in the end will result in a museum of service rather than a mechanism for service. But a very focused mission such as to reach and serve women at risk for abortion and help them have their babies raises the executives vision high enough to see the challenges over the horizon.

Mission Focus Gets Results

So, to improve Pregnancy Center mission effectiveness in 2011 one must begin by reviewing the organization’s mission statement for clarity and focus. Then review all the activities of the organization to see if they immediately apply or are if they are helpful but non-essential to the mission. Finally, begin to think through a plan to improve either first by focusing the mission or asking questions of the organization to understand if it can get better at reaching more abortion-minded women and serving them in a way that more effectively helps them have their babies.

Remember executives are obsessed with results. If the organization is not getting the results it should something must change and that’s why you are there.

For more information go to prcoptimizationtool.com.

Linear Service Model=Continuous Improvement Part 2

Since we are committed to getting better at what we do we must be willing to do the hard work necessary to get and understand the right information about how our services are influencing our clients/patients in the first place. This is the value of a Linear Service Model. There are several elements required for an organization to begin to collect reliable information in order to make targeted changes to stay on the cutting edge of service. One of those things is an agreement on definition of terms. For example, it is not enough to agree  that an abortion-minded woman is someone who says she wants to have an abortion, or that a woman who is assessed as “Carry to Term” is one who says that she does not want an abortion. We must create a system of defining and assessing each woman used by each client advocate or nurse with each woman the same way. CompassCare’s system for doing just that is called the Abortion Vulnerability Rating Scale (AVRS).

Improving Your Service

Another necessity for organizations serious about continually improving is the standardization of services. This means that everyone from the people who answer the phones, to receptionists, to advocates, to nurses all perform their job the same way each time with little variation. The more variation in the way a task is performed the more difficult it becomes to assess what is not working and what to do to fix it. In some cases this requires scripts, sometimes training in the use of forms, sometimes a dress code but whatever is required disciplined thought always gives way to disciplined action, “What gets measures (disciplined thought), gets fixed (disciplined action).” If we as executives are disciplining ourselves and our organizations to improve it will almost always result in very specific actions that measurably improve on those things.

Another crucial element to measuring with an eye to improving is team work. A team that is committed to improving for the sake of the mission is a unified team. A team that does not know what they are trying to accomplish, will never know when they will arrive. This breads discontent, confusion, and mission drift. Clearly defining what you want to accomplish and what that means will provide focus to your staff and volunteers in a way that will empower them to do what is necessary to improve.

Above all, it is important to note that it is not the specific Linear Service Model that an organization uses that makes the difference. It is what the executive does to create a culture of continuous improvement that matters in the end. We are all of us on a journey and in many respects the journey is the destination. The days of believing that once we have added Ultrasound technology we will have arrived are over. Ultrasound technology is simply a tool. And those of us who have paved the way of developing and implementing a LSM understand that while the services offered by our PRCs are important the manner in which those services are provided are even more so.

CompassCare’s OT training program provides the only LSM with a customized web based patient database with a system to serve clients/patients that can be measured and changed. For more information go to prcoptimizationtool.com.

Update:  See Linear Service Model = Continuous Improvement, Part 1

Legal Do’s and Don’ts for Pregnancy Centers and Other Non-Profits

Many Executives and leaders of non-profits like pregnancy centers do not engage in political issues during the election season for fear of the negative impact it might have on their non-profit status. The attorney Barry Bostrom and his legal firm Bopp, Coleson, & Bostrom have put together a list of activities that we as non-profit organizations can and cannot do. Most pregnancy centers are registered as 501 (c) (3) organizations under the IRS tax code and as such have legal rights to engage in certain kinds of activities to not only protect their organizations but also to further the cause of community change for which their organization exists. To download this very helpful document click the following link:

Political Do’s and Don’ts during Election Season

Some examples of things you can and cannot do as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit pregnancy center are:

(1) Discuss the positions of political candidates on issues: Yes

(2) Endorsement of political candidates: No

(3) Financial contributions to political candidates: No

(4) In-kind Contributions to political candidates: No

(5) Independent expenditures in favor of or against political candidates: No

(6) Fundraising projects for political candidates: No

(7) Contributions to PAC’s: No

(8) Electioneering Communications regarding Federal candidates: Yes

(9) Expenditures related to state referendums: Yes

(12) Appearance of political candidate at meeting: Yes

(14) Voting records Yes

Connecting Critical Leadership Resources to Executives

Welcome! You and I are passionate about reversing the national abortion trend. I believe a critical component to accomplishing that goal is an effective pregnancy resource center movement. To have an effective movement where women considering abortion choose to come to our centers FIRST rather than the abortion provider means that we need to have effective individual pregnancy centers. And the more the executive is effective at running the pregnancy center the more effective the pregnancy center will be at accomplishing its primary mission; to reach and serve women seriously considering abortion.

Free Valuable Resources

You can also find additional valuable resources and learn more about what makes CompassCare’s linear service model  (LSM) training so effective as well as read case studies and hear testimonies from other Executives at the CompassCare training website.

New York Abortion Deregulation Bill

The New York Senate (S5808) and then Assembly (A11484) will be considering the Reproductive Health Act known as RHA.

Dangerous Abortion Bill

For a distilled interpretation click here. The pro-abortion agenda generally attempts to do one of two things; deregulate abortion or regulate the pregnancy center industry. The RHA attempts to do the former and it is unparalleled in its heinousness. A brazen deregulation eliminating conscience clauses forcing hospitals to provide them, making it legal for medical professionals who are NOT physicians to provide abortions, potentially legalizing all forms of abortion at any stage of pregnancy, making abortion a fundamental right, removing unborn children from the definition of homicide, permit females of any age access to any contraception including the dangerous RU 486. Basically, the bill attempts to scour through all New York legislation with a legal scalpel and surgically remove all abortion regulatory language thereby making New York the nation’s most deregulated abortion state, making it an abortion hub.

All human life is valuable (Societal Costs of Abortion). All attempts to destroy it at any phase of existence is evil. The role of government is to reward those that do good and punish those who do evil. The RHA does the exact opposite and in fact gives hearty approval not only of the act of abortion but of those who perform them. If the pregnancy center industry does not regulate itself it will be regulated by the abortion industry. The movement is vulnerable. This abortion bill is highly unethical. More reason to adopt a linear service model.

prcoptimizationtool.com

Linear Service Model Strategic Planning Survey

Strategic Planning for Results

Many executives have used the following tool to understand the overall health of their organizations and have found it clarifying. CompassCare developed this tool for the linear service training of executives. We thought it may benefit you too so we are releasing access to any who are interested in it.

If you are a center that has done some strategic planning and, like many, do strategic planning in the summer you may find this survey helpful as you look to focus your efforts. CompassCare uses this survey in Executive optimization training as a pre and post evaluation to attempt to visually graph where the organization is mature and where it needs to grow within the basic strategic planning categories. The survey takes no more than 20 minutes to complete and when you are done you get a nice graph showing organizational health in the five main areas of strategic health complete with explanations. If you are moving in the direction of a linear service model this survey could be a useful tool for you and your board. Enjoy!

Simply click here for the Executive Strategic Planning Workshop Survey. It will ask you for your email address. To ensure that you are a real person it will then immediately send a confirmation email with subject heading “Survey Registration Confirmation” which will contain a link to the survey. There is computer code within the email so if you do not receive the email with the link check you junk mail as sometimes is gets caught in spam filters.

A Pregnancy Center Executive’s Journey to an LSM: Wisdom Applied

If you are following the story of the Pregnancy Center Executive’s journey to a Linear Service Model (LSM) the first step

In Pursuit of Wisdom

is to acquire wisdom. This post deals with the Executive application for being more intentional around the personal pursuit of wisdom. As executives we are constantly forced to make decisions. Those decisions are almost never binary. Meaning we don’t have the luxury of making choices that are black and white, right or wrong. Our choices are usually determining which of four or five good options is best. This is why we need wisdom, to discern what is best. Will we make mistakes? Yes. Is there grace in those mistakes? I believe for those who are pursuing wisdom with all diligence that there is an ocean of grace. So below are some practical steps to begin building into your personal executive experience to be more intentional around the virtue of wisdom.

1.  Get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7) because the understanding needed for yesterday will not be enough for tomorrow.

__Identify at least two professional experts (i.e. Current executive of a medical service that consistently reaches and serves women at risk for abortion, a marketing professional, a strategic planning consultant, etc)

__Compile questions you can ask them that would help shed some light on issues that you are facing as an organization.

__Call those two people and ask them those questions.

__Create a reading list for executive leadership (See suggested reading list at prcoptimizationtool.com)

2. The staff of the organization are key to accomplishing the mission:  Affirm and support them.

__Provide them with the resources they need to get the job done

__Determine two ways to reward your staff within reason in the next month

__Give them clear direction

__Determine the primary goal to be accomplished by the organization this year (e.g. It should be the biggest obstacle to accomplishing the mission of reaching and serving more women at risk for abortion.).

__Initiate weekly one hour staff meetings (Click on the follow for a sample Strategic Leadership Tool used in CompassCare’s LSM call the Optimization Tool: Weekly Core Staff Meeting Agenda)

__Communicate that goal to the staff and begin to brainstorm on ways to overcome the obstacles to accomplishing that goal.

__Begin to have weekly one on one meetings with your key staff (e.g. Client Services Director, Development Director, Nurse Manager) in order to begin to set clear expectations for them with respect to the organization’s overall mission and annual goal.

__Begin to communicate the goal and plan of the organization to accomplish its annual goal to donors through every means available.

A Pregnancy Center Executive’s Journey to an LSM: Wisdom Part B

Walking into the office on his first day George was met with two very valuable surprises.  The first was a phone message from a local doctor saying she wanted to somehow be involved in the organization not knowing in what capacity a non-medical facility could use a medical doctor.  The second was a business card that was given to him by the organization’s client services director, Val.  She had heard this man speak at a conference from which she had recently returned and thought that he may be someone that could be helpful.  His name was Bob.  As George read the card he realized that he knew this man.  Coincidentally, eight years earlier his wife had once worked for Bob in a CPC in the southeast as a counselor coordinator.

Wasting no time George made the call.  “Hi, Bob?  You may not remember me but my name is George Knight.  My wife . . . .”

With that Bob interrupted saying, “Oh, yes, George, how is your wife, Linda?  I really appreciated her servant’s heart.  We miss her around here.”

Surprised by the immediate and warm reception of this most certainly very busy man, Bob asked George to explain the events that led to his being hired as the Executive Director of a CPC in the northeast.  George described how after finishing their master’s degrees in Chicago they moved to Florida so that he could take a position as the pastor of a small church north of Tampa.  George describes, “Bob, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  The church was fraught with issues including moral ones that needed to be addressed.  When I attempted to address some of those issues, the people that held most of the influence pushed back telling me to leave things alone.  Finally, it became clear to me that at the next church business meeting I would have to make a decision about my tenure there.  One of the hot button issues was going to be decided upon and if the church voted the wrong way I would have to choose to either stay and look the other way knowing that something was gravely wrong or take a stand and ultimately resign my position.  The church business meeting was scheduled for the next Wednesday.  That Monday, just two days before, I received a call from the interim executive saying that the board of Crisis Pregnancy Services had received and reviewed my resume wondered if I was available for a conference call interview that same day.  In describing the situation to the interim executive saying that my preference was to remain as pastor bBut if the situation did not change I could not in good conscience do so.  We both agreed that a board interview would not hurt anything.  To make a long story short the board unanimously decided to extend an offer to me that evening should God free me from my current situation.  Two and a half weeks later we had moved.

With that Bob exclaimed, “George, welcome to the club.  How can I help you?”

“Well, here we are in a medium size town with a small operation.  Furthermore, I know virtually nothing about running a pregnancy center.  What do you think is the first thing I should do?” asked George.

“First let me take a minute and applaud the fact that you are seeking wisdom.  In the Bible the book of Proverbs 4:7 says, ‘The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.’  George, to me the fact that we are even having a conversation says that you are off to a great start.  Keep seeking understanding about what it is you should do and you will be rewarded.  Never stop seeking wisdom because you will never have enough. The world continues to change around us and the understanding you had yesterday will not be enough to handle tomorrow.”

“Thank you for your encouraging words, Bob.  But you know, I truly feel at a loss as to where to even begin.”

“Well,” began Bob, “your staff are key to your organization’s success and there are two things you must never fail to do for them; a) provide them with the resources they need to do their jobs and b) provide them with clear direction.  You can start by spending a little money on showing them how much you appreciate them.  Do you have any money in the bank?”

“A little.”

“If your organization is anything like the other organizations I’ve seen in the past the staff does not get paid very much.  So do whatever you can to thank them for their dedicated service.  It is they who will be accomplishing the mission.  Give them bonuses, buy Christmas gifts, and take them out to lunch.  Do as much as you can within reason to show them you really appreciate the sacrifices they have made for the organization.  It will be worth every penny in the moral boost you will gain from it.”

“O.K.,” George scribbled down another note on a piece of paper a little reticent about spending the precious dollars he new they would need in the not-so-distant future.  “What next?” asked George.

“Then,” said Bob, “you need to start digging.  If you are going to provide direction for your staff you need to know more about what it will take to get where you want to go.  Do your homework about what it will take to add a medical service to your operation in your State.  It would be good to locate a doctor that would be willing to work with you.”  George smiled at the note on his desk from the doctor offering to volunteer.  “Other than that, just settle in and start to get to know some of your donors.  You’ll need money pretty soon in order to sustain a more professional service like medical care.”

After a few more miscellaneous questions the conversation ended with Bob expressing confidence in George’s ability to accomplish the lofty task of moving toward a medical model of service leaving the door open for George to call again any time.  George new that the wisdom he had just received was solid gold and he wanted more.  He looked down at his notes after he hung up the phone and reviewed what he wrote.

See the post next week for Executive application of Wisdom virtue for a linear service model or click HERE to go to the CompassCare Training website for a suggested reading list.

A Pregnancy Center Executive’s Journey to an LSM: Wisdom Part A

Two months in to his new role as Executive Director at Crisis Pregnancy Services George Knight sat starring down at the city street from his second floor Executive office.  It was a nice office but the walk up the cavernous lonely stairwell from the busy city sidewalk felt a lot like being transported into a private detective novel where the PI’s office was in an old ACME building complete with metal desks and Spartan wooden chairs.  A chill wind was blowing and somehow managed to find its way through the failed molding of the big windows that were part of the old 1900 brick façade.  It was only 3 P.M. and already it was starting to get dark there up near the boarder of Canada.  The cloudy sky did not help to brighten things up.  Sitting there he wondered what it would really take as an Executive to turn around this small, fledgling non-profit Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).  He wondered . . . would a handful of volunteers, no professional services to speak of, few clients being served from day to day, and just three part time staff be enough to bring the organization to a new level of professional medical service?  Not to mention the fact that the annual budget was just a little over $100,000 supported by a couple hundred small but committed donors.  Yet they did have $48,000 in the bank to invest in rejuvenating the organization.  Secretly though George wondered if it would be enough.

Balancing What You Have with Where You Need to Go

The Board of Directors brought George on with the primary commission of converting the operation from a traditional lay counseling CPC to one that offered professional medical services to women facing unplanned pregnancy.  The board felt that the organization was not reaching the women the organization was created to help; pregnant women who were at risk for an abortion.  They reasoned that adding a professional medical service like ultrasound technology could be the one thing that may make the organization appear more relevant to the women they needed to reach.  George did not question that assumption at first.  However, adding medical services was not an easy task especially in a State where this was uncharted territory as well as a State that seemed to over legislate everything.  Added to that the town had a history of being pro-abortion, and currently housed 13 practices that provided abortion with an estimated 8000 abortions occurring in town annually.  The competition for the attention of the women facing unplanned pregnancy was almost overwhelming.  Additionally the organization and its supporters were grieving the untimely death of the previous executive who George was replacing.  But George felt a deep sense of commitment, as if God Himself had called him to this mission of reversing the abortion trend in the community.  And therefore in his more optimistic moments believed that the resources he had at his disposal would be enough to get that little organization where it needed to go.  Two things George new for sure: 1) He did not know enough to get this job done on his own and 2) He knew some people that might be able to help.

For case studies of pregnancy centers that have implemented a comprehensive linear service model click here.