Are you Incompetent?

I’m reading a book by Seth Godin, who I just found out is a really creative and interesting thinker. It’s called, small is the new big: and 183 other riffs, rants, and remarkable business ideas. It’s really just a collection of essays from Godin in hardback edition, but it’s really thought-provoking.

One of my favorite so far is a riff/rant on competence.

Competent people have a predictable, reliable porocess for solving a particular set of problems. They solve a problem the same way, every time. That’s what makes the reliable. That’s what makes them competent.

There is a side effect to all this competence however,

…competence is the enemy of change! Competent people resist change. Why? Because change threatens to make them less competent. And competent people like being competent. That’s who they are, and sometimes that’s all they’ve got.

Godin seems to argue that there is a “new competence” in the world, which he calls zooming,

In the face of change, some of us are becoming competent at zooming: Our skill set includes the ability to move from opportunity to opportunity doing the same thing, only differently. It’s this new breed of competents, of people who in another age might be labeled incompetent, who are going to lead us through the changes we encounter.

He doesn’t define these zoomers as people who can’t become competent, but people, “who have the option to become competent but choose to try something new.”

Managers, in Godin’s line of thinking, are the most dangerous competents of all. They are, “the ones who will do everything in their power to fight the next round of necessary changes because they’re in love with their competence.”

The most successful organizations have a skill Godin calls velocity.

Velocity is a company’s ability to zig and zag and zoom – to make significant changes when significant changes are necessary.

Any organization that needs to change must be willing to take risks and have the resolve to become incompetent for a time, in order to develop new forms of competence to meet challenges and changing dynamics in the world.

Let me toss a few questions into the air and see what happens? Would you characterize your church as an organization that is competent? Would you characterize the UMC as competent? Are we able to make significant changes when necessary? Are we willing to become incompetent for a time in order to meet challenges with new approaches?

2 thoughts on “Are you Incompetent?

  1. Hi neighbor- I enjoyed this post. It is a great topic for UMC clergy to be discussing right now. I’m going to pick up a copy of the book by Godin. Thanks for the tip. Peace to you!

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