In his book Mission Drift, Peter Greer, president and CEO of HOPE International, examines the tendency of organizations to lose sight of their original goals. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that, “Left alone, things degenerate over time, rather than come together.” This phenomenon is observable in physical entities and organizations alike.
Greer indicates the current of our culture is so strong that the natural evolution of many Christ-centered missions is to drift over time. This is observable in examples like Harvard, ChildFund, and the YMCA, all founded as Christian organizations that no longer identify as such.
Mission Drift looks at various causes of the phenomenon, ranging from poor communication to changes in ownership and key leaders to financial hardship to lack of planning. Mission drift is the natural course of organizations, and it takes focused efforts to safeguard against it.
In fact, Greer notes that it is the exception when an organization stays true to its mission. Mission-true organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. And, they define what is immutable – their values and purpose, their DNA, and their heart and soul.
It takes intentionality to resist and overcome the undertow of our culture. Some actions we encourage organizations to take to resist mission drift include:
- Design a covenantal organization
- Institute a corporate governance structure
- Develop a continuity plan
- Identify a transition plan
- Develop owner independence
- Facilitate clear communication
Some effective actions we have seen organizations take to overcome mission drift include:
- Clarify the company’s purpose
- Develop a strategic plan
- Create a financial plan
- Build a generosity plan
- Institute a discipleship plan
Mission drift presents a real threat to an organization’s legacy, but with purposeful planning and action, the threat is not only mitigated but also the organization can become stronger and more impactful.
Here are some questions to consider as you reflect on how these ideas apply to your business:
- What structures does your company have in place to resist mission drift?
- What planning does your company conduct to overcome mission drift?
- What steps do you need to take to be mission true?
Would you like personalized guidance as you equip your organization to resist and overcome mission drift? Ronald Blue Trust’s Business Consulting division leverages biblical wisdom and practical expertise to advise business owners as they seek to faithfully steward the companies with which they have been entrusted. To learn more, visit our website.