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By Ryan Stigile, contributing writer

Many of us have a desperate desire for strategic change within our organization. Unfortunately, most of us are not the point leaders of our team. This lack of authority creates frustration for a forward-thinking follower. Constrained by position, the pursuit of change can feel far above our heads. I imagine many have thought, “My organization will never improve because my leader won’t initiate the necessary change.” This line of reasoning is based on the assumption that change develops strictly through a hierarchical structure. If we consider the reformation of societies,  innovations in industry, and turnarounds of organizations, we can find one truth that spans them all:

Change begins with new ideas.

New ideas are not restricted by structure, only lack of influence. Regardless of your position, the following principles can help you get the ball rolling from the bottom:

1.  Challenge the paradigm, never the person

Everyone on your team holds a paradigm of your organization, its problems, and the accomplishments it is capable of achieving. Some of the paradigms are accurate reflections of reality while many only limit the possibility of change. It is natural to judge a person’s heart by their paradigm. But paradigms are created by experience, not character. Despite disagreeing perspectives, the people on your team share a genuine desire for your church or organization. Challenge the paradigm but never challenge the person. The quicker you recognize and value someone’s heart, the faster you will win it.

2.  Utilize objective evidence, not subjective observations

Forward-thinking followers can quickly recognize the need for change with basic observations. General statements such as, “We need to be relevant” or “Our people are not serving,” can be quickly discredited with equally unverified opinions. Objective evidence provides credibility to your assessments, opening the door to discuss new ideas. Your subjective observations are probably correct, they just do not communicate well. Take them a step further by surveying your members, putting together a focus group, graphing your attendance data, etc. Verify your subjective observations with objective evidence that a real problem exists.

3.  Spread your ideas through spheres of influence

You cannot do this alone. Developing relationships with key influencers can provide the necessary channels to spread your ideas. Identify these people, earn their credibility, and resource them with your ideas to share in their respective spheres. The risk of this process is the loss of recognition. When other people communicate your ideas, they will no longer be associated with you. This can be very frustrating. After all, you saw the need for change, you developed the ideas and you deserve the credit! At some point, you have to decide what is more important: your personal recognition or the success of your organization.

Whose heart are you discrediting?

Which observation lacks objectivity?

What influencer do you need to start having lunch with?


Ryan Stigile

Ryan Stigile serves as the Strategic Analyst for Mount Paran Church in Atlanta, GA. Ryan is passionate about the inclusion of organizational principles in the local church. He is currently an MBA student at Kennesaw State University. 

Email Jason if you’d like to become a contributing writer.

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