Every organization is on a learning journey — a winding path on which you must overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities. A road on which you find companions, team up with partners, and discover unforeseen resources, all while moving towards the fulfillment of your mission.
Sometimes you forget that you’re on this journey. Caught up in day-to-day tasks, it’s easy to believe that you’re standing still, or even treading deep water. It’s tempting to ignore the friends, conversation partners, and tools that can help you move along a path. What difference would it make if you were intentional about your school’s learning journey? And how would engaging the right conversation partners and resources impact that journey?
A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Tim Shapiro, president of the Center for Congregations in Indianapolis. He’s just published a new book, How Your Congregation Learns: The Learning Journey from Challenge to Achievement, presenting his ideas about organizational learning journeys. Shapiro has been a valued colleague for years, and I was curious about what he’s gleaned from his work with congregations — and how he might connect those lessons to theological schools.
Shapiro says that congregations on a learning journey can find solutions to their challenges by looking within (using internal resources like personnel and buildings) and by looking outside themselves (through engaging external resources like specialized expertise). He challenges congregations to become places that resemble Peter Senge’s description of a learning organization — a place “where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.”
Shapiro believes that theological schools, like congregations, are on learning journeys. Read a short excerpt from my interview with him, and an excerpt from one of his chapters. And then read a longer version of the interview online at www.intrust.org/learning-community.
A paradigm shift
Sometimes the learning journey seems to be moving at a breakneck pace. Last fall, In Trust publisher Jay Blossom and I sat down with Robert Cooley, a longtime observer and widely respected leader in theological education, to talk about managing change when the ground is shifting under our feet. In our interview with him, Cooley says that globalization and new technology have brought us to a paradigm shift which demands that leaders understand new rules and practices. Thriving within this new context will require new collaborations and new tools for managing information, he says.
The In Trust Center is committed to partnering with you as you travel down the path on your journey. You can find a new opportunity to learn as a community: our new Wise Stewards Initiative, supported by the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, at www.intrust.org/programs/WiseStewardsInitiative.
We look forward to hearing from you and are always interested in learning how we can support you in your work. As always, we hope this issue connects you to ideas, resources, and trends that aid you in your journey.