Monday, October 27, 2008

Fractal Teams

In my recent review of Wayne Cordeiro's "Doing Church as a Team " I pointed out that one of the most interesting concepts in the book was that of the fractal team. Basically, this refers to a repeating pattern in which one leader oversees a team of about 4 other leaders, who in turn oversee their own similar team. The structure may be repeated as often as necessary. Whether the ministry encompasses 20 people or 400, the leader maintains a span of care of 4. The first example he gives is that of a person asked to head up a new Children's Ministry. Rather than jump right in and start working with kids, the leader instead recruits four leaders. (If appropriate for the ministry, each person's spouse might also be included, for a team size of up to 10.) These leaders may themselves oversee one area: nursery and toddlers; Pre-K and Kindergarten; 1st and 2nd grade; 3rd and 4th grade. So the leader starts by finding someone who loves babies. With a fractal team, that person does not immediately jump in and start working with babies. Instead, the pattern is duplicated and that person recruits a team of four others with similar passions and supporting gifts. The specific responsibilities may vary, but one example division would be: newborns, crib, toddlers, walkers. The 1st and 2nd grade leader does the same, so with three levels there are 21 leaders. As the ministry grows, the teams grow deeper rather than larger. For example the newborn leader may eventually recruit four leaders, for check-in/checkout; cleanliness; carriers; lamb tenders.

Cordeiro then boiled down this process to its simplest form, and described the following design:

Six-step process for implementing fractal teams for ministry

Step One: Draw a Circle - that's the scope of your ministry

Step Two: Draw Crosshairs - what is the aim/purpose of your ministry?

Step Three:  Title Quadrants - if responsibility were broken down in to four parts, which together incorporated all aspects of the ministry, what would they be, what would you call them?

Step Four: Gifts Necessary - for each quadrant, what gift mix / SHAPE would make the best fit?

Step Five: Names - brainstorm names of those with right SHAPE to be leader for each quadrant

Step Six: Ask (!) - don't wait for volunteers to magically appear, make the ask!

Here's another example: First Impressions Ministry. Everything from street to seat is the scope. The purpose is to make all guests fell welcome and accepted and to eliminate distractions so that each guest may hear God speak through the word and worship. Four areas into which the ministry responsibilities could be divided: greeters, ushers, info desk, visitor follow-up. The SHAPE of each would be spelled out, e.g. extroverted friendly personality with hospitality gift would make a good greeter. The leader of the greeters might then look for other leaders to continue the fractal team design, either by service time, or by area (parking lot, front door, foyer, cafe). In each case the leader would pray for and specifically ask people to serve as leaders. Before too many levels, depending on the size of the ministry, someone is finally asking people to serve as actual greeters and ushers.

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