Disruption: when to struggle through, when to quit/iterate

Yesterday, I talked about “missio-communities” (agencies, churches, businesses, etc) having two “functions”: to “be” in a place (spread-in, offer discipleship opportunities to everyone in the place) and to “go” to places with no Gospel presence (spread-out, move over borders into other places).
“Disruption” is what happens when one or both of these functions are prevented. When a function fails, we need to start doing a root cause analysis, asking ourselves “Why?”
I think most communities face two problems with disruption:
1. they don’t recognize when they are being disrupted, largely because they are measuring the wrong things;
2. they struggle with “The Dip.”
Seth Godin outlined “the Dip” in a book of the same name. This is the big question facing every startup: when to pivot. How to get to Plan B.
In other words, the essence of the question we face when confronted with problems is –

  • should we endure through problems (disruptions),
  • or should we try to iterate to a better model?

Is the problem a tactical challenge, or do we lack product/market fit?
We may become so “tied” to our model that we enduring when we should iterate (which involves quitting our current model). In my opinion, the only way to know when you’re at that bridge is to compare your current growth rate with the population growth rate. If you’re not exceeding the population growth rate, then you’re not going to successfully “spread-in.”
The challenge with that is that anything that leads to exponential growth (which is the only thing that gets ahead of population AGR) doesn’t look faster than population AGR at the beginning. In fact, exponential growth looks ice-berg slow at the very beginning.
I didn’t promise this was easy.