Metrics and Agency

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
Roy
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by Roy » 23 Aug 2020, 10:34

SilentDawning wrote:
21 Aug 2020, 07:36
In one Ward, I was sort of raked over the coals when we reported 99 prospective elders and only 1 active.
I am sorry that happened to you SD. I was also treated unfairly at times (I remember one time when I was publicly berated for not having brought a notebook to a leadership meeting to write down what was said). This was not the correct thing to do.

When you say, "Hold leadership accountable," I wonder what that looks like. I know that there are ways to socially and religiously pressure/punish/reward individuals. I suppose I am at a point in my faith evolution where most of these would no longer work on me.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Roy
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by Roy » 23 Aug 2020, 10:52

NoahVail wrote:
23 Aug 2020, 09:40
For two decades, our ward lacked meaningful accountability. The result was that few of our youth stayed past 15. Youth would show up for an activity & were left to do whatever they came up with. We'd go years w/o a missionary. Eagle scouts became a legend from a generation ago.

Once an auxiliary leader was called, that was the end of the process. They might be pointed to a handbook that mentioned their calling. Forget about getting assistants (teachers, etc), no matter how many names were submitted. This was our reality for over 20 years. Once I was so frustrated that I stapled a calling sheet to the ward roster and submitted that.

I think a better question than "Should there be accountability?" is "What should accountability look like?" We need some metrics to understand how we're doing. If those figures get used to highlight shortcomings, however, we've lost our way.

In my experience, helpful, beneficial accountability looks like a stake/ward leader asking what they can do to help, regularly.

Also in my experience: When a ward goes a generation w/o helpful accountability, members can become conditioned to the unproductive status quo. Anything else can seem like contention. Members can rise against an auxiliary leader who's trying to revive nearly dead programs. That's a terrible state to be in. To quote Pres Hinckley, "I don't recommend it".
I understand where you are coming from and I know SD has seen the results of lackluster programs and follow through. I know that I volunteered at another Christian church for a time. At the end of the year they had a thank you dinner for all of the volunteers. They talked about how they couldn't run the programs without all the volunteers, gave recognition, and some prizes (gift cards in small amounts). It was a nice way to feel appreciated. Certainly, this is a different approach to appealing to our sense of duty and guilt again (for what seems the hundredth time).
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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nibbler
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by nibbler » 23 Aug 2020, 11:25

All the measuring we do at church is one the issues that makes it harder for me to stay LDS so some of this may get raw.

1) I feel most of the metrics we fixate on at church don't have anything to do with helping people, they're mostly focused on helping the church (organization), or in many cases not even helping the church, just being able to cite a good stat when reporting to leaders up the chain of command.

To what end? To avoid being reamed out? To earn a calling promotion?

2) Metrics, measuring performance, improving, improving at a rate that is higher than the rate of improvement of prior years - things that may be fine for corporate culture and developing a career but is church meant to be an extension of the corporate world, a respite from the corporate world, or somewhere in between? Or is it all just a part of any aspect of life?

3) How much of our measuring helps point us in the direction of people that need help? How much of our measuring tears us down because we feel we don't measure up? Where's the cutoff where measuring becomes an obsession that leads us down the same path the Pharisees went down... because I feel we've crossed that line in many areas.

4) Most of the metrics report on church programs. Historically if the numbers looked bad we browbeat members until they participated in the program. Maybe... just maybe a program has bad stats because there's no interest in the program and lack of participation in a program isn't a call for people to repent, it just means different people have different needs.

To be fair, we've seen some programs change recently to accommodate people but what I haven't seen change is all the measuring and how unfavorable stats mean people aren't doing a good enough job with participation in a program.

5) It's hard to fault someone for not measuring up in a calling. They didn't ask for that calling, they were told to do it and there's immense pressure to not say no. In that light, many members couldn't be called volunteers, they're conscripts. How is it acceptable to tell someone to do something they're not enthused about doing and then call them out for doing a bad job at it? If we aren't going to bother aligning people with passions then I don't see how we can have a discussion about expectations.

6) I'm tired. I'm so very, very tired of measuring and being measured in a place I'd like to go to escape from all of that.

This is another area where my ward or stake isn't going to be like your ward or stake but in some areas I've seen us take things to extremes. My only solution is to ignore it all but I do not like the measuring we do at church and question why people need to be measured.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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DarkJedi
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Aug 2020, 14:03

My issue with metrics in the church is that what counts can't be counted. Our salvation or exaltation is extremely personal and almost entirely without meaningful intervention by others. We individually have to do whatever it takes and others can only minimally help - and then (after all that we can do no matter how little that is) there's the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ. The atonement can't be measured either.

Thus I think we do more harm in trying to measure what we think can be, and the old home teaching program was a perfect example of why it doesn't work. (And SD, if the current interviews that are supposed to take place are being done like they're supposed to be done they are anything but a PPI. However, I too know those who can't let go of old ways - another part of the problem.)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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SilentDawning
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by SilentDawning » 27 Aug 2020, 14:31

Roy wrote:
23 Aug 2020, 10:34
When you say, "Hold leadership accountable," I wonder what that looks like. I know that there are ways to socially and religiously pressure/punish/reward individuals. I suppose I am at a point in my faith evolution where most of these would no longer work on me.
I had a long wrestle with what accountability should look like, and as Nibbler said, whether there should even be any.

My answer is that there MUST be some accountability. Otherwise, leading volunteers is a free-for-all where volunteers do whatever they please. The organization and higher leaders have needs just as volunteers do. The idea is to meet the needs of both volunteers, leadership and the organization at the same time and wherever possible. That doesn't happen on a large scale when there isn't accountability and isn't an attempt to meet everyone's needs.

So, what does accountability look like? I have no problem with there being numerical metrics that serve as a guide for suggesting areas volunteers need support from their leaders. For me, accountability leads to support, not censure.

Accountability also means the leaders put the right people in the right positions. No obligatory callings, no strong-arming people into callings with made-up claims about having revelation they are to be the next EQ president, for example. These things lead to installing people who have no interest in being held accountable.
Leaders need to do their homework on what motivates the members, and give them callings that serve the volunteers' needs and the organization alike. This at least means there is grist for the mill - volunteers who have a desire and some ability to serve. If these fundamentals aren't in place, then it's hard to hold people accountable with creating hard feelings or push back. There has to be SOME commitment to doing well and getting with the organizational program for accountability to work.

For volunteers, it means being judicious about whether they agree to a calling. They should commit only when they have a desire to do a reasonable job of the calling. No half-hearted commitments just to make the person extending the calling go away.

The sad part of this is that our church does not have an appreciative, mutual approach to callings. It's very top down, conscription type of model of service. People who indicate where they would like to serve are often put down as not following the top-down inspired model. It's almost taken as an affront to the leadership if you come forward and share the places you would like to serve. For me, this is important information I would welcome from any volunteer. It shows where the volunteer has passion and would definitely inform my own inspiration on the subject of where to put that person.

With this foundation in place, I don't think volunteers or leaders would hestitate to rely on metrics of some kind that help leaders give support. Metrics that also help the volunteers see how they are doing.

DJ makes a good point -- that it's hard to measure what is important. But even when what is important is hard to measure, we should try. In trying, we learn to refine our metrics. Also, sometimes all you can measure is process or the flurry activity. I am OK with that. If there is no activity we know nothing substantial is happening in the metrics that really matter.

I do think the church should be measuring how the members FEEL about attending their wards and serving in the church. Metrics like these would go a long way to helping the leadership make plans about what is truly important.

In summary -- I think metrics are important, that the organization has a right to collect and share them, and that volunteers should embrace some accountability. But this accountability should be applied to people who WANT to be serving in their position. And such accountability should lead to kind, loving support from leaders and not censure like I've seen in other contexts.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Roy
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by Roy » 27 Aug 2020, 15:52

SilentDawning wrote:
27 Aug 2020, 14:31
In summary -- I think metrics are important, that the organization has a right to collect and share them, and that volunteers should embrace some accountability. But this accountability should be applied to people who WANT to be serving in their position. And such accountability should lead to kind, loving support from leaders and not censure like I've seen in other contexts.
Well said!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Sheldon
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by Sheldon » 28 Aug 2020, 13:37

I once heard of a MP who told his missionaries that they should never set a goal that took away the free agency of somebody else.
So NO baptismal goals. You could set goals for hours tracting, or hours studying, but never number of lessons or baptisms. I'm pretty sure this MP was not promoted up the ranks when he got home!

Minyan Man
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by Minyan Man » 28 Aug 2020, 13:56

Sheldon wrote:
28 Aug 2020, 13:37
I'm pretty sure this MP was not promoted up the ranks when he got home!
Was he respected by the Missionaries that he served with?

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DarkJedi
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by DarkJedi » 28 Aug 2020, 14:40

Sheldon wrote:
28 Aug 2020, 13:37
I once heard of a MP who told his missionaries that they should never set a goal that took away the free agency of somebody else.
So NO baptismal goals. You could set goals for hours tracting, or hours studying, but never number of lessons or baptisms. I'm pretty sure this MP was not promoted up the ranks when he got home!
My MP taught this also. "You can't set goals for other people" he'd say, and from that point of view, with which I agree, baptismal goals were silly. That's actually one of the few things I learned on my mission which has turned out to be tried and true and useful in my professional and church life.

This was back in the dark ages before the time of Area Authorities and such (one Q70 which didn't have 70 in it) and he was the son-in-law of a Q15. I'm not sure exactly what became of him upon his return, although I do know he was very well known in the area he was from.

My son's much more recent MP was not all that in to numbers and he was an Area Authority.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Metrics and Agency

Post by Curt Sunshine » 31 Aug 2020, 06:22

Fwiw, Preach My Gospel says (or at least said) the exact same thing conceptually, at least. I can't remember if it addressed baptism goals, specifically.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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