Creative Destruction

Change is a constant in the knowledge society. Knowledge is very perishable. The knowledge worker must act as an entrepreneur and exercise personal management. Knowledge workers must become accustomed to the process of “creative destruction.” They must become change leaders, active in the pursuit of change, rather than becoming victims of change. This compels the knowledge worker to engage in continuous learning.
(Peter F. Drucker on a Functioning Society by Joseph A. Maciariello, Leader to Leader, No. 37 Summer 2005) [emphasis added]

From reading the literature about Peter Drucker’s model of society, it appears that CHANGE is being used as a mechanism to maneuver the non-profit sector (i.e., the Church) into its 3rd-legged role. Frances Hesselbein’s writings based on Peter Drucker’s model have been the subject of this week’s Herescope posts. This is due to their relevance to the global Church’s emerging role as a leader in health care reform via Rick Warren.

It is therefore noteworthy that elsewhere Frances Hesselbein has elaborated on the concept of the necessity of organizational change. In an article entitled “Journey to Transformation,” she suggests that organizations:

4. Challenge the gospel. There should be no sacred cows as we challenge every policy, practice, procedure, and assumption. In transforming themselves, organizations must practice “planned abandonment” — discarding programs, policies, and practices that work today but have little relevance to the future and the organization we are building to meet that future.

There are serious ramifications of all of this “leadership” and “change” talk. It has permeated the upper echelons of evangelical leadership training. And it is being accepted as an addendum to the Gospel for this new futurist era in which we live.

However, this “challenge the gospel” rhetoric is not a benign statement to biblical Christianity. “Challenge the gospel” is literally a way to create change. That would be bad enough, but the leadership gurus have also borrowed the term “creative destruction.”

The process of change has been described as “creative destruction.” This is an economic term which has been given psycho-social meaning by Peter Drucker in the context of managing (or manipulating) organizational changes, as evidenced by the quotation at the top of today’s post.

Peter Drucker’s views on leadership and change are examined in Chapter 1 of a recently published (Sept. 2006) book co-edited by Frances Hesselbein and Marshall Goldsmith entitled The Leader of the Future 2: Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the New Era. On page 4 of this chapter Figure 1.1 details Drucker’s “Systems Views: Executive Leadership and Effectiveness.” This chart illustrates an externally-focused organization that impacts society. The “process” of becoming externally focused is described as “Creative Destruction.”

This phrase, by the way, is attributed to one of the primary men who influenced Drucker, Austrian economist Joseph A. Schumpeter. A footnote in Chapter 1 quotes from Schumpeter’s description of Creative Destruction as “incessantly revolutionalizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Harper & Row, 1942).

Time Out

It is time to stop and think for a minute about what all of this really means. This is an economic model which has been applied to organizational development theory. And this model is specifically being applied to the non-profit leg of Peter Drucker’s stool – the CHURCH!

The Church has been re-cast into this organizational development theory mold by the leadership gurus. The Church is now seen as a “system.” The old-style Church will not work in this new paradigm because it hasn’t been re-cast into the mold of the other 2 partners (legs) in the 3-legged stool. So the Church must be re-made, reinvented, reconstructed,… changed… before it can effectively “partner.”

The inevitable questions must be raised:

Is this what is meant by all of the neoevangelical and new apostolic hype about “new wineskins”? These leaders incessantly drag out the metaphor of the new wineskins, but they never use it in the sense of the traditional application of the Scripture. Rather this term has been infused with new meaning. It is applied to the concept of CHANGING the Church corporately. And it sounds an awful lot like “creative destruction.” Believers are bombarded with the rhetoric – the old wineskin must go, meaning that we must have a new church that is restructured, reinvented, reshaped, remolded.

It is a terrible thought. But the model fits. It fits much better than the actual Scriptural parable of Jesus.

It is a terrible thing, too, to contemplate the damage and destruction to human lives, to churches, to pastors, to precious saints – those who are being “abandoned” because they won’t change over to this new organizational model of the church. Creative destruction is a term that aptly describes the process and its toll in human lives. But then Drucker held to an economic view of man.

Creative destruction is also the model that seems to fit the systematic destruction of old theologies (i.e., the Gospel) which are being replaced by the new at a reckless pace in the evangelical world.

The Truth:

“And when the Scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with Publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with Publicans and sinners?

“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

“And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?

“And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

“But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

“No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

“And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” (Mark 2:16-22)