Are You Alarmed?

How many alarms did you hear last year? Car alarms, fire alarms, burglar alarms, weather alarms, and on and on it goes. I heard one last weekend as Tropical Storm Hermine bore down on my location in Charleston, S.C.  I heard several last year in various settings and locations. You walk through a parking lot and hear a car alarm and ignore it. Why? Not your problem and likely a false alarm anyway. Somebody turn that thing off! It’s irritating. A fire alarm recently went off at my home church during morning worship. “Is that real? Do I need to get up? Can somebody turn that thing off so we can continue with the service?” Fortunately, it was a false alarm. However, ignoring an alarm can be deadly.

It is easy to ignore alarms. John G. Miller points out that one of the great risks to any organization is “complacency.” When things are going well in an organization or a ministry it is easy to cruise along and enjoy the ride. And you should to some degree. However, the alarms that you hear are too easy to ignore when you are enjoying the ride. There is only one way to coast and that is downhill. What gets an organization to where they are (the pinnacle of success) may not get them to where they desire to be (sustained success). Do you hear the alarms sounding around you? Perhaps you have a great organization, great employees, great leadership, but the landscape is shifting right under your feet. What changes do you need to make? In your own leadership? In your ministry?

Here is Miller’s warning to organizations: “Complacency is a state of satisfaction combined with an unawareness of potential danger……..You must talk about continuous improvement and process enhancement. You must remain vigilant always knowing there is room for improvement. However you say it, the message is the same: Stay alarmed.”

Adapted from Chapter Forty-Three of John G. Miller’s Outstanding: 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Outstanding