Secrets of Organizational Success - Growing Vines

The secrets of organization success is given clearly and concisely by Jesus in just one verse! John 15:2. I will use the Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible because it gives two possible translated words for Greek Word Airo G142 rendered as Takes away or Lift it up ( The Thayer's Greek Definitions for Airo has more descriptions of lift it, bearing it, carry it off than just remove.) and I think the right translation is lift or carry rather than remove. Remove is used later in the verse and translated as prune.

See the "parable of the gardener and the fruitless fig tree" in Luke 13:6-9 where the fruitless tree is given a fourth chance (3 years of no fruit) and even with special care of "I dig around it and put on manure".

Here is a visual of the verse and the key words or secrets for organizational success. This post could have be titled as "The Performance Management" or "Management Leadership of Jesus".

1. Organization - The Vine

'every branch in Me' gives us a picture of a tree with many branches. It represent an organization. In this specific case of Me - Jesus, it represents the church, the body of Christ on earth, making up of all the believers. So Jesus is talking about organizational growth. We could of course, apply the principles to us as an individual. But, Jesus in this context, is talking about branches, members of His Church.

2. Mission - The Fruit - What Value Creation?

It is very clear that Jesus wants fruit from the vine. Every organization must have a mission, or objective, to create value, as represented as the fruit. What is the value that the organization is producing for the society?

For the Church, what does the fruit mean? Most believers will identify fruit as people saved in Christ. That is one form of fruit. Fruit has seeds to produce more vines. But fruit is not branches yet. Hence, I will see fruit as God glorifying work that draw people to Christ. They are work of love and work of faith of obedience to Christ. They are establishing the Kingdom of God, the Godly influence, on this earth.

3. Outcome Measures - How can you tell how well you are doing?
The next step is to have a Measure, to allow us to tell our progress. How do we know we are producing the value that we claim. Besides the measurement, we need to know what to measure. Most people like to measure the input or the effort spent in doing things. Jesus teaches us to measure by the outcome. Outcome is a specific successful attainment e.g. items sold, order closed, contract awarded, examination passed, certification obtained. Spending a lot of efforts, in the wrong ways, do not lead to success. It may only just lead to exhaustion. You will then appreciate what pruning means in the 2nd part of the verse.

4. Monitoring - Of Progress and Of People
Good leader is also a good manager. There are management gurus that argue and differentiate leaders and manager. The differentiation allows us a better understanding of leading and managing. But good leader must have some skill in managing and good manager must have some skill in leadership. Managing is about monitoring, keeping track of the progress, and making sure things go according to plan or plan must be adjusted to adapt to the changing situation if the original objective is to be attained.

5 Correction and Development of Staff
- Check the Environment for Factors affecting performance

Here, Jesus talks about monitoring the progress of branches, or people. There are people that are not producing fruit at all! Before we jump too quickly to conclude that the people are bad, we must understand that outcome is dependent on a number of factors, of which, people is only one factor. Those familiar with 6M will know that there are six factors of Man, Machine, Materials, Methods, Measurements and Environment (6M originated in Germany and Environment in German begins with a M).

Jesus identified the problem of lack of fruit production. The branches are covered with dirt, buried in earth. This is an environmental factor. He lift it up so that it can enjoy the sunlight and fresh air for growth and fruit production.

See the similar actions done by the gardener in Luke 13:7 ( I dig around it and put on manure).
  1. Do you monitor the progress of your staff? 
  2. Have you identify the factors for lack of performance? 
  3. Do they know their job descriptions and what are they to do that contribute to the organizational mission? 
  4. Do they have the right skills? 
  5. Are they trained? Are they motivated? 
  6. Are the environment conducive to work? etc. etc. Check the 6M.
6 Improve Productivity by Pruning - Remove Waste, Inefficiencies.
Please note that
  1. 'pruning' applies to those that produces 'fruit'
  2. so that they produce MORE fruit.
Those that cannot product fruit is suffering other problems. They could be in bondage or they do not know how (lack of knowledge or skill to produce). What they need is deliverance and be exposed to the truth (Knowing the Truth will set you free John 8:32) . This verse is not about salvation (most Bible scholars see Bible as only salvation or not and spent too much on sins without much time on living out the saved life that Christ died for!). They are all branches of the vine (in ME-Jesus). It is about performance - God glorifying work. (In later verse, there are those that are not connected to Jesus as the vine. They are not saved and are burnt).

What are to be pruned or removed?
Those activities that do not contribute to the production of fruit - the mission.
Some say they are sins that laden us down. But I would rather apply this sin-bondage thing as those that are non-fruit producing people mentioned earlier. Those need to be lift-up, carried off, i.e. FREED from bondage. They may be saved but they are still trapped in their sins by spiritual or ungodly beliefs. See Christian Transformation & Growth -The Unified Model.

Here refers to the fruit-producing people. They know how to produce. They could produce even more. The secret is to remove waste, wasteful activities, waiting for things to happen, and so forth. We know about the Toyota Lean Manufacturing. This is how we should apply it to the organization, and to our personal lives, to remove waste, be lean and agile, and creating a smooth flow of useful work activities. The key concept here is called Focus.

7 Focus - Know the Objective and Know How to Say NO
Focus is about knowing the objective - the mission, the outcome measures, and concentrating our efforts or synchronize our efforts with others, to accomplish the mission. It is about prioritizing our activities. Doing the important ones first. Delegating some to others. And saying NO to activities that do not contribute to the organization of objective - producing more fruit.

Lim Liat copyrighted 9 July 2011

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