Going Our Own Way

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.                                                                                                                             (Isa. 53:6)

I once worked as a project manager for a homebuilder that asked for help to organize their field operations, admitting they knew they were disorganized, having rapidly grown in recent business volume.

For whatever reason, this company had not previously recognized the need or carved-out the time to document their field construction policies-and-procedures into formalized, written construction schedules, checklists of problems to avoid, and spreadsheet analytical tools to coordinate homebuyer selections with the construction…until this accelerated upshot in business growth forced this need for change upon them.

Up until this recent time of rapid growth they had relied upon the typical standard-of-the-industry information contained within the architectural drawings, similar house designs used over and over again, and repeat subcontractors to sustain the bulk of the know-how to construct their houses.

An improvisational, think-on-your-feet approach in the reactive mode…of personally answering questions and resolving problems individually from memory as they arose out in the field… provided the additional fill-in information needed to close the remaining gaps, as conditions and questions unique to each project surfaced during the course of the construction.

This in-the-moment, think-on-your-feet, reactive mode field management worked reasonably well for a small number of houses in progress, before the business volume grew.

But above a certain number of houses under construction, the previously adequate company culture of centralized power, personally delivering verbal communication in the field of some of the needed information, and management by multi-tasking…was stretched beyond its practical capacity.

Enlightened and broad-minded management, involving in-house training, delegation of decision-making, and specialization of tasks was needed from the top to the bottom of the company structure if it was to successfully handle the increased workload.

In short, this company needed a comprehensive business plan for growth, above and beyond their current approach.

Successful business origination had added a level of volume and complexity that simply outpaced the company’s developing strategy to manage the new increased workload.  A retroactive condition of managed chaos was the result, with people continuingly catching up to their ever expanding number of tasks while trying to devise and implement a program for growth, which ideally should have been “all-ready” in place prior to business expansion.

The concept of the need for an expanded “business model” for growth, fully in-place and functional before growth actually occurs, is a confirmation through business management theory of the pattern formed that we see in the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…inaugurated way back in the time of Abraham.

The reality-changing response by Jesus to Nicodemus in John chapter three is that we must spiritually be born again…implying the need for a new enhanced personal capacity transcending our current reality.

This seemingly new…yet anciently old (Mt. 5:17)…opening message of Jesus to religiously observant and committed first-century Jews is surprisingly to repent and believe the gospel (Mk 1:15), even though at the time many of these Jews thought they were doing everything right and fulfilling the extent of their religious experience (Mt. 9:13).

The Christian life in the danger zone of faith begins with a massive internal expansion and reorganization of our enterprise…a spiritual rebirth…a new heart…a radical personal change which can only be successfully utilized for life-growth within the guiding “business plan” of a God-composed, fully developed,  proactively conceived journey of faith life-script.

The field management approach for this housing construction company of verbally providing some of the needed information on the construction sites produced a recurring, reinvent-the-wheel syndrome of improvised, in-the-moment problem-solving on every project that proved to be overwhelming as the number of houses under construction passed beyond a certain number.

Verbal communication often requires the physical presence on the construction jobsite of the communicator.  The answer to a question or the resolution of a problem does then integrate internally into the construction of each individual house “in-the-moment,” but if not recorded in writing with an accompanying sketch or digital photograph for future use, unfortunately each successive resolution of a question or a problem then evaporates into the atmosphere…only to resurface sometimes only weeks or a few months later again on another similar project.

By translating verbally communicated information into written form it can then be applied across the board to answer the exact same questions as they arise on other projects by simply handing out the paperwork (detail sheets or sketches) prior to the start of the work.

An even better, long-range approach is to backfill corrective information generated in the field into a systematic feedback loop of this information to the design phase…architects, engineers, and interior designers…thus benefitting the blueprint plans sheets for all future projects.

The point here is that for a larger, complex enterprise, the in-the-moment, think-on-your-feet approach does not work…it falls short of being functionally adequate.

A complete, whole, strategic program is needed…having pre-planned, fully premeditated foresight covering all of the required information.

A helpful analogy might be to visualize a seasoned and savvy traffic-cop blowing his whistle and waving his arms to direct traffic while standing in the middle of a four-way street intersection, for a few hours during rush-hour traffic each weekday.

This approach will work for a small town having only one such main street intersection.  But no matter how experienced and proficient the traffic-cop is, based on working this same street intersection for years, as the small town grows in both size and population it will need to stretch its system for traffic management to include new streets, stop signs, and traffic signals.

For a small to medium sized city, stop signs and coordinated traffic lights are a must.

A larger enterprise needs a larger business model.  For this particular homebuilder caught unprepared in the middle of rapid growth, the old adage applied: “nothing fails like success.”

Spirit-born Christians today…having new spiritual hearts and walking within journeys of faith…enter into a larger enterprise…in fact one of the oldest and largest enterprises in existence…the “general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” and to “an innumerable company of angels” (Heb. 12:23-22).

Accepting Jesus Christ into our hearts by faith…inaugurates a new business model into our lives…in that God has a pre-written business plan…in the form of a God-composed journey of faith life-script for every believer…ready to implement as our calling and mission in life expands and grows.

This is another way of describing the Christian danger zone of faith.

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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