7 years, 2 months ago

Organizational Economics and the Enterprise Architecture of a Religious Organization

Link: http://organizational-economics.blogspot.com/2017/01/organizational-economics-and-enterprise_21.html

The Question

A reader of my blog, who is a minister in the Methodist Church, commented on one of my posts, (this is my paraphrase of the question)”How do you measure the benefits of a religious organization, like a local church?”  Or, “How would I apply Enterprise Architecture to religious organization”, since I posit that all organizations can benefit from Enterprise Architecture, as I’ve discussed in several previous posts.
This post is written with a slant toward the Methodist tradition, of which I am a part, but will apply equally well to all religious organizations.

An Organization’s Enterprise Architecture

Within Organizational Economics, any organization’s Enterprise Architecture has three sub-components, Mission, Governance, and infrastructure.
·         Mission: What the organization is supposed to do; it’s goal, target, or objective.
·         Governance: Within what parameters or rules it can perform its mission.
·         Infrastructure: What personnel, intellectual, physical, and financial support it has for achieving its mission.
To support the Missionof an organization, its leadership chooses Strategies(approaches or plans) for going from where it is to where it wants to be.  It implements these strategies using tactics, plans that account for the organization’s Governance and Infrastructure (its rules and talents/abilities/support).  Management then executes the tactics in operations(the actions of the organization).  The operations have two components, processes and tooling.
Additionally, the leadership and management of the organization is responsible for legislating, enforcing, and adjudicating some or all of the laws, rules, and/or regulations the make up the organization’s Governance[Sidebar: For an individual Methodist churches this would be called Administration.]
Finally, the organization must provide for its Infrastructure, “the tools and talents” it needs to perform the operations.  These tools include financial, physical, and intellectual.  For a religious organization this would be the money, time, talents of the adherents and the buildings, property and assets of the organization.

Processes and the OODA Loop

All processessupporting the mission or infrastructure of any organization fall into the OODA model of Col. John Boyd.  The OODA, as discussed in several previous posts includes four step: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.


Initially, data is gathered by observing some aspect of the current state of the Universe.  This includes data about the results of their previous actions.  In point of fact,
Datum—some observation about the Universe at a particular point in four dimensions
Data—a set consistent datum


The Orient step in the process is an individual’s model of how the world (Universe) works (descriptive) or should work (prescriptive).  These models are sometimes called paradigms. 
Rules from Governance enable and support the Orient step, by structuring the data within the individual’s or organization’s model.
Information—patterns abstracted from the data.  This is the start of orienting the observations, the data and information.  The pattern analysis to convert data into information is derived from the organization’s model of its environment or Universe.  For religious organizations this is found in its “bible” and its organizationally related texts like the “Book of Discipline” of the Methodist Church.
Knowledge—identified or abstracted patterns in the information.  Using the same paradigm, environmental model, or model Universe, people analyze and abstract patterns within the information.  This is their knowledge within the paradigm.  When they can’t fit information into their model, they often discard as aberrant, an outlier, or as an anomaly.  When enough information doesn’t conveniently fit into their model the adherents have a crisis.  In science, at least, this is the point of a paradigm shift.  In religion this is a reformation (the reforming of the “bible” and/or the “book of discipline”, that is the rules of governance.  While in science some conservative adherents to the old model lose their reputations after a time, in religion people on both sides of the model’s discontinuity lose their lives.


Once the organization or individual has the knowledge, he or she uses input their knowledge within their models of the Universe to make decisions.
Wisdom—is the understanding of the consequences of the application of knowledge.  
This is the hard part of the OODA Loop because it’s difficult to understand both the consequences and the unintended consequences of a decision.  If your paradigm, environment, or Universe model is good, or relatively complete, then you’re more likely to make a good decision.  More frequently than not people, even religious people, make decisions that are “Short term smart and long term dumb.”  Part of the reason is that they are working with a poor, incomplete or just plain wrong paradigm (view of the world or universe).  This is where the Risk/Reward balance comes in.  When choosing a path forward, what are the risks and rewards with each path?  [Sidebar:  A risk is an unknown and it is wise to understand that “you don’t know what you don’t know”.]


Once the decision is made people act on those decisions by planning a mission, strategies, and so on within their paradigm.

Religious Organization’s Orienting Model

Joseph Campbell’s four categories of functions of religions: include: the metaphysical, the cosmological, sociological, and pedagogical.  While there may be much quibbling with some of what Mr. Campbell writes, the four functions of religion (and perhaps culture) ring true.

The Metaphysical Function

Awakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being
“According to Campbell, the absolute mystery of life, what he called transcendent reality, cannot be captured directly in words or images. Symbols and mythic metaphors on the other hand point outside themselves and into that reality. They are what Campbell called “being statements” and their enactment through ritual can give to the participant a sense of that ultimate mystery as an experience. ‘Mythological symbols touch and exhilarate centers of life beyond the reach of reason and coercion…. The first function of mythology is to reconcile waking consciousness to the mysterium tremendum et fascinans of this universe as it is.’”
This is truly the “religious function of the four; the other three tending to be more cultural than religious.

The Cosmological Function

Explaining the shape of the universe
“For pre-modern societies, myth also functioned as a proto-science, offering explanations for the physical phenomena that surrounded and affected their lives, such as the change of seasons and the life cycles of animals and plants.”
While there still is much proto-science, science is serving the cosmological function in today’s culture and has identified many patterns in information and knowledge, and clarified many previously fuzzy concepts and theories.  Still, at this time, religion plays a significant role in many “ultimate” questions.  These include: What was there before the Big Bang (if there was one), what architected “the laws” of the Universe (e.g., the speed of light), why am I here, and what happens to me after I lose consciousness in the process of dying?

The Sociological Function

Validate and support the existing social order
“Ancient societies had to conform to an existing social order if they were to survive at all. This is because they evolved under “pressure” from necessities much more intense than the ones encountered in our modern world. Mythology confirmed that order, and enforced it by reflecting it into the stories themselves, often describing how the order arrived from divine intervention. Campbell often referred to these “conformity” myths as the “Right Hand Path” to reflect the brain’s left hemisphere’s abilities for logic, order and linearity. Together with these myths however, he observed the existence of the “Left Hand Path”, mythic patterns like the “Hero’s Journey” which are revolutionary in character in that they demand from the individual a surpassing of social norms and sometimes even of morality.”
More than any other the sociological function of religions leads to culture, to cultural conflict, and religious wars.  This is the key reason for the incessant wars among the three great monotheistic religions—especially when “the authorities” in each want to hold the political power that comes with the cosmological function (the function of how the Universe and God work).

The Pedagogical Function

Guide the individual through the stages of life
“As a person goes through life, many psychological challenges will be encountered. Myth may serve as a guide for successful passage through the stages of one’s life.”
Within the context of a given combined metaphysical, cosmological, and sociological model or paradigm, teaching the paradigm becomes important so that members of the organization can navigate in an orderly manner through the model.  Order reduces risk and increases cost efficiency, while creativity increases risk but may increase effectiveness.  All religious/cultural models work to decrease risk for its adherents and teaching the adherents the cultural behaviors is seminally important for the religious organization to last.

The Methodist Denomination; an Example

All religions create prescriptive paradigm or orienting model that include all four functions (or dimensions) as discussed by Campbell.
All religious orienting models are based on religious authority; either priests, shaman, etc., “Holy” texts, or both.

The Catholic Church before 1500

The Catholic Church before Luther and the Reformation and before Guttenberg and printing used both written text and Clerical Authority, with the latter being far more important.  Clerical Authority caused the burning and killing of the faculty or the library and museum (university) at Alexandria, the extermination of the Templers, the near extermination of the Huguenots, and Inquisitions killed hundreds of people and attempted to rewrite science (see the biographies of Galileo, Copernicus and others).  A big part of this was that the Catholic Church’s hierarchy believed their paradigm that they were the final authority on knowledge and wisdom.  They’re model included an Earth centered Universe with the Pope or Jerusalem at the very center.  This meant that they were always right and competing models damned the heretics to Hell.  To this was added a major dose of politics; e.g., “The ends justifies the means” inferred to the Jesuits.    

Strategies (Based on the Christian Protestant Paradigm)

Enter, initially, Luther and Guttenberg.  In 1455 Guttenberg has perfected the printing press and began to print the Bible so that by 1500 there were a comparatively large number floating around, as well as many other books with both ancient and “modern” ideas.  In 1507, Professor Dr. Luther challenged the authority of the Catholic Church hierarchy, saying that the scriptures, not the Pope and his minions held the core to the Christian paradigm or prescriptive model of how the Universe should work and that all people should be allowed to read these and interpret them for themselves.  This change or shift in strategy was greatly facilitated by the increasing number of printed scriptures.
This meant that people had to learn to read, which meant they learned to write.  The ability to write meant that many more people had the ability to express concepts, ideas, and theories across space and time.  Learning was not just for the clerics and clergy.
One consequence for the Catholic Church was that science took on the cosmological functions, reducing the church hierarchy’s political authority.  Another was the increased risk of “Christians” against “Christians”.  And finally there was the blossoming of intellectual and economic wealth; since knowledge is the root of all wealth.

John Wesley, Adam Smith, and the United States

In 1783, John Wesley had his epiphany; he called it his “heart-warming” experience.  He continued his work among the poor and ostracized, attempting to bring them into the church.  These people had been tenet farmers and owners and workers in “cottage industry” manufacturing that supported the farmers and the estates on which they worked.  These people were being displaced by the new and very controversial mass production using powered tools; that is, the nascent industrial revolution of the early and middle 1700s. 
These people migrated to towns and cities in search of work.  Many that migrated had no skills that were needed in the new industrial economy.  With the debtor laws then in place, they ended up in prison or worse.  By 1811, the displaced workers formed radical groups, called Luddites, who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton and woolen mills, that they believed was threatening their jobs; which the machines were.  These were the people that Wesley sought out and these were the people he reached.
As his “cult”, the Methodists, continued to grow, he a) had to have help; additional “clergy” to preach, teach, and comfort the cultists, b) these people needed to read but many couldn’t, and c) most of the rest of the very early Methodists couldn’t either.  Wesley set about educating his clergy and many of the cult members by teaching them to read.  In turn, reading and other skills taught in Sunday school were used by these “Methodists” to compete for jobs and to become entrepreneurs in their own right; that is, the Church of disciplined learning, demonstrated that there was a “Method” to John Wesley’s heretical madness. The Methodist Sunday School (A real school teaching reading, riting, and rithmtic) enabled Methodists to compete for better paying jobs and join the “Middle Class”.  This follows Wesley’s admonition, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can”.  This is really the credo for the knowledge-based Enlightened Capitalism as espoused by Adam Smith.
As espoused by Smith, Enlightened Capitalism is really about ensuring that there is an even economic and regulatory platform for all individuals to start from; no one individual being favored in an economic or political sense or even perceived as such.  This means that all individuals feel they have a chance to succeed to the full measure of their God (or nature) given talents.
In 1789, the framers of the United States Constitution used many of the concepts from the An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.  These include:
·         Defense of the country
·         Support of the country’s infrastructure through creation and maintenance of standards that cross state boundaries and support of intra-country communications.
Everything else was left to the states and the people.  The Methodist church and other religious organizations noticed there was a need for, what is now called, “a social safety net”.  This was initially for its members.  So they constructed and supported hospitals, orphanages, old folks’ homes, and so on.  Many of the most prestigious hospitals still include the name of a domination or religious organization.  Many modest sized towns ended up with a Catholic and a Protestant hospital, while cities might have two or three of each plus a Jewish hospital.
In the 1880s and 90s, most Christian churches recognized the need for kids to have physical activity, since fewer of them were “working the farm”.  So, along with Sunday School to teach them to read, the churches built gyms for them to play in.

The Changed Mission

Politically correct, social liberal cultists in the Methodist denomination have turned the strategies of this denomination from a focus on religious activities to forcing societal change through political action (tactics).  They no longer give any weight to the other religious functions discussed by Campbell.
In my opinion, in doing so, they have lost focus.  The consequence is that young adults (gen X and Y) see no difference between the Methodist Church and the Democratic or socialist parties, other than possibly this is the organization to belong to, if you want to earn your way into heaven, (but more about Heaven and Hell in my other blog).  So they see no reason to join the Methodist Church.  Those that are looking for a religious organization head to fundamentalist churches, even religious cults, like James Jones’ Jonestown.  But defining social injustice is even harder and religious organizations have three other functions.  “Wicked Clowns lives matter” is an organization for “social justice”, but does that serve all four functions of a religion?
Remember while “Social Justice” is easy to proclaim, it’s hard to remember the individual as embodied in the song “Easy To Be Hard”
Especially people who care about strangers
Who care about evil and social injustice
Do you only care about the bleeding crowd
How about a needy friend
I need a friend

Choosing a Mission, the Governance, and Infrastructure to Support a Religious Institution

The Three Great Principles

For a Christian church community any mission should be founded on the three great principles of Christianity. 
·         Love and respect God no matter what
·         Treat all others as you would want to be treated
·         Try to be your ownself at your very best all the time.
The first, in the Christian Bible is that, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”  If a religious institution forgets this principle, it is no longer a religious organization, but possibly a civic or political one.  Additionally, from any serious reading of history, it is the principle all people find most difficult to inculcate into their being and also the one that has caused more wars and more massacres than any other.  The reason is that many religions believe they have a lock on God will and how to please him/her/it.  Their mighty God has given them the right to enslave or kill anyone that espouses any variation from their orthodoxy.  This is true of all closed religions.
However, any Christian denomination must have this as their chief goal and guiding principle.
“The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  This is the chief principle of all civic and political organizations, as well as a secondary principle of religious organizations (at least this is what most religious organizations espouse).  This principle is the basis for all laws internal to a culture.  Most people, even those espousing religion, follow the law rather than inculcating the principle into their lives.  My mother said most followers of a particular Christian domination followed the principle of “sowing their wild oats six days a week and praying for a drought on Sunday.”  Hundreds of laws are needed to ensure that not too many “wild oats” are sown.
There is a significant problem with “loving your neighbor as yourself” and that is, many (most) people hate themselves in one way or another.  This may be caused by poor brain wiring, by bad experiences, or both.  This is the reason that I include the third principle.  People, especially young people, try to distance themselves by drink and drugs, and destruction of anything that might be beautiful. Why; because they can’t stand or understand themselves and act out on those feelings.  That is, “I’m entitled and if I can’t…then I’m being disrespected.”
So any local church mission statement must include teaching “my own self at my very best all the time.” (Which is impossible for any human but should be the goal of all humans).

Organizational Architecture and the Protestant Church

A Mission Statement and the Strategies

There are four dimensions of “my own self”: mental, physical, social, and religious (notice these fit well with Campbell’s functions).  As discussed earlier, John Wesley intuitively understood that the Methodists had to address all of these within the organization that he created.  First and foremost, it addresses the religious needs of its adherents.  Second, from the history of Methodism, it is plain his “methods” and governance created a secure internal environment for his adherents and that their openness combined with discipline continued to attract more.  Third, his Sunday school addressed their mental dimension, while including gyms, etc., addressed the physical.  And like his mentor, Jesus of Nazareth, the people of early Methodism “…grew stature (the physical), wisdom (the mental), and in favor with God (the religious), and man (the social).”
Any mission statementor goal and the strategies for achieving the goal should include a balance of all four religious functions, rather than a great emphasis on just one.   Having said, there need to be a set of strategies for meeting the goal.  These should encompass all four dimensions.  Once these are decided on, the church organization must decide on processes (ordered sets of activities or “methods”) that move the organization toward the goal. 

Processes and Governance

However, the strategies and processes must be limited to those that can function within governance of the organization.  If the mission simply cannot be met within the rules and regulations of organization then either: 1) the governance should change, 2) the strategies should change, or 3) the processes.  The simplest to change are the processes; the most difficult is the governance.  One other thing, the mission or goal should not be changed.


These follow the practices of organizational architecture.  Finally, the religious organization has to work within the limits of its infrastructure and support systems (even though with the right blessing these may greatly multiple to feed the “my own self” of all members).