From my previous post on the Church as an organizational model worth studying (here), I hope that you agree at least a bit that some of the organizational qualities of the Church are desirable as well for modern corporations. Now the question is: why is that so? Let’s look first at the qualities which the army brought to the first “modern” corporate entities.
The army as a model brings a strong command and control organization. It is designed for hierarchical control, with limited space for horizontal sharing (interestingly modern armies in the XXst century have learned some new ways to cooperate – maybe some matter for another post). This was good for a train company in a simpler time, when it was important to manage traffic with some fluidity and adequate security, in a mostly predictable and stable environment.
What about the Church? It was set up as an organization to propagate faith with limited resources, on a global space, with capacity to teach to a wide audience. The Church also needed (and still needs) to adapt the message and learning, to geographical and historical contexts (over space and time, language and culture), while keeping the cohesiveness and truthfulness.
A large part of today’s core of knowledge has been built over time via exchanges and cooperation between bishops (representing their local people), theologists (experts) and innovators. In essence, the Church has functioned as a learning and self-learning organization.
To me, a modern corporation also has a central core business to manage and develop. It must adapt to complex and different contexts, while staying coherent and cohesive. It must also learn about products, clients, technologies and its own purpose, while redefining the way it address it addresses the contradictions and tensions along its path. No wonder the organisational model of the Church can bring something to the business world of the XXIst century!