I promised to share some of my notes from our time with Peter Drucker a few weeks ago. The Buford Foundation convened the meeting in order to discuss the topic of "Community Building." The participants included various leaders from Leadership Foundations, Local City Reaching type movements, city serving type movements, research organizations, and leadership training organizations. The common thread was the desire to see a city, or segment of a city changed. I would say most of the participants are effective in their role in changing their part of the city. In preparation for this meeting, Mr. Drucker had done quite a bit of reading, interviewing and thinking. In addition to his noted writings on business, he has devoted the last 15 years or so thinking about the role of not for profit organizations in the life of a community. This includes churches. As you will see in my notes below, they are a little rough around the edges. They are merely my scribbles on what Peter was saying. Our founding Chairman, Bob Buford calls Peter Drucker a social ecologist. He learns and translates the total ecology of a system, in this case, the US Society. Mr. Drucker's first point was that to focus some thoughts on the last 40 years. In his view, in 40+ years we have seen the explosion of not- for-profits, the explosion of mega churches but we have seen no results. If you look at the measurement of statistical figures, there's been no influence on the major key social factors. However, he also said that there has not been a significant decline in the social factors, as one may believe. At a time when the culture has slid downward, the social factors have remained steady. Sot the news is not all bad. There are a number of community organizations with significant results and we should learn from them. Those that have results have a clear definition of what they are trying to accomplish. They are very focused. They concentrate and abandon. In Peter's view the church is the worst offender in this regard. If it doesn't work, we work harder. Effective organizations try three things and one works. That is a good average. Don't worry about failure. His second point was that successful community organizations know how to mobilize community resources. They know how to work with others but also know they have to maintain control. They are leaders. It takes a leader, an embodied person that takes the risks in creating community. It has a center, a person, someone to take initiative and run, and someone who has energy to pass it. That is your role if you want to lead this type of movement. In addition they bring beneficiaries into the activity. The effective organizations don't look as beneficiaries as recipients but as co-laborers, as partners. It is not "give-away" charity but co-development of solutions and answers to problems. The recipients are involved from the beginning not as targets but as co- workers in seeking the solutions. His third point was that effective organizations are composed of effective volunteer groups. The volunteers are the real beneficiaries. In these groups of volunteer workers a healthy body is built and that helps to take care of a many afflictions that arise. They do not achieve results by taking care of social ills but by building a healthy body, a community. His fourth point turned again to the impact on those that serve not those that are served. To turn geography into a community means there will be the commitment and spirit to apply to the problem. There is not a problem in Peter's view to attract and hold volunteers. But there is often a problem to make them into an effective community. It is a community built on a common task that they expand to help renew yourself and your organization. In Peter's mind the difference between successful and unsuccessful organizations, whether they are for profit or not for profit is clear focus. A clear, specific focus helps them measure results. How does an individual start? To start is to see opportunity rather than a problem. Look for local opportunities rather than national. Do you have an opportunity next door? This is an entrepreneurial job. You have to do the work. What about working with the government someone asked him. Peter reminded a participant that in most places government is not a single unit. Non-profits will be the agents of government. Whoever pays the piper calls the tune so be very careful with government. "It's limiting and freeing working with government." Government is paper ridden and rule ridden. What about working with business? Businesses must be taken into confidence. They want to understand what you are doing. They are used to accountability. They want to understand the process. Keep them informed in ways they want to be informed even if it doesn't make sense. Government is used to obfuscation, business to be partners. Keep that in mind.

source: Peter Drucker in Church Champions Update, Dec 8 2000 tags: Church, Leadership