Is it time to get the movement organized?

The opposite of organization is chaos.

Or, at least a significant absence of system, process, and structure. When there is no organization, frustration reigns. I read somewhere that if you don’t know where you are, you can’t possible determine where you are going. And if you don’t know where you are going, you have to settle for any port in a storm. Hardly a positive picture.

At our church, we have adopted technology that allows our Pastor, Bob Bender, to post his message outline online prior to the service. Each member can access those notes prior to the service and follow along during the service with the option of making our own notes adjacent to his. Bob is an outstanding preacher bringing clarity to key issues of life in such a way that they are both memorable and operational. Being able to add our own notes, reflections, and observations so easily enhances an already great worship and teaching experience.

It is snowing hard today in Colorado Springs. Being housebound, I took the opportunity to review the message for tomorrow from the ongoing series about Leadership. In it, Pastor Bob lays out the need, reflecting Jesus, to give leadership to yourself. Next, still reflecting Jesus, to lead and impact others. Continuing the progression, to then learn how to lead leaders and possibly to develop the skills necessary to lead a movement. That progression really struck home for me.

As we are about to launch the Retirement Reformation movement, I was attracted to that last step in the progression about “leading a movement."

What makes up a movement anyway?

How is it different from an organization, a company, or even an “idea”?  Once defined, how then does one lead it? Immediately my thoughts went to some obvious historical movements; our countries reach for freedom from tyranny. Moses and one million+ Israelites becoming God’s people in the wilderness. Gandhi using “non-violence” to overthrow an empire. The Protestant Reformers changing the face of Europe and subsequently impacting the world as a result of the movement of the many and diverse reformers. On and on it goes. Donald Trump even likes to talk about “Trumpism” as a movement as does Bernie Sanders - now there are two extremes for you!

So what makes up a movement and then how is it lead?

Way back in 2001 in a book published by the Johns Hopkins University Press entitled, Productive Aging: Concepts and Challenges the Forward written by Dr. Robert N.Butler, President and CEO pf the International Longevity Center-US, began this way:

Will 69 million baby boomers suddenly drop out of the workforce when they turn 65? Is it difficult to imagine this generation, with its talent, education, and experience, idling away the last 30 years of life?

In the 1950s sociologist, Ernest Burgess wrote that older people’s lives were notable “roleless.” Little progress had been made since then. Today (2001), the issue takes on new urgency as the average life expectancy rises to 76.6 and evidence suggests a cause-and-effect relationship among health, productivity, and longevity. Studies begun in 1955 by the National Institute of Health have demonstrated that older people who have goals and structure have a better chance of living longer. Thus, health supports productivity, and productivity encourages health. Productive aging would appear to be in the best interest of both society and the individual.

In his book entitled “Tribes”, Seth Godin writes:

Some tribes are stuck. They embrace the status quo and drown out any tribe member who dares to question authority and the accepted order. Big charities, tiny clubs, struggling corporations—they‘re tribes and they are stuck. I’m not so interested in those tribes. They create little of value and they're sort of boring. Every one of those tribes, though is a movement waiting to happen, a group of people just waiting to be energized and transformed.

A movement is thrilling. It’s the work of many people, all connected, all seeking something better. The new highly leveraged tools of the net make it easier than ever to create a movement, to make things happen, to get things done.

All that is missing is leadership.

He goes on to say, “The real power of tribes has nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with people. You don’t need a keyboard to lead…you only need the desire to make something happen.”

Then there is the countercultural work of Brafman and Beckstrom entitled “The Starfish and the Spider” that opens with this statement, “The unstoppable power of leaderless organizations.”

We are at unusual times of “leaderless leadership” and the parallel need for continuity, consistency of message, and clarity of purpose. How then is a movement led? And how is that leadership different from management?

The journey of the Retirement Reformation will include the struggles that this dichotomy reveals. How will the many divergent voices, both secular and faith based, coalesce and become a movement? And, how will it be led?

Is it time to get the movement organized?

Next, we will examine the actual components, the basic elements, and the critical pieces of what makes up a movement. What are the essential themes that need to present? How will those themes be identified and communicated? And finally, what will be the Leader’s role?

Stay tuned as we continue on a journey together, with Trusted Advice along The Way.

Bruce