The LDS Church is a very much a top-down organization. I frequently wonder how to affect change in an ecclesiastical, prophecy-driven religion. According to Clayton Christensen, a Mormon and Harvard Business School professor, this can occur through “disruptive innovation,” that he describes as:
a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of the market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market.’
Examples of disruptors include: cell phones, community colleges, discount retailers, and retail medical clinics.
I’ve always been frustrated with the LDS Church’s under-preformance in the global humanitarian service area. The church does some impressive work now, but it could do so much more.
A friend recently brought to my attention the work of two LDS Stakes in northern Utah County:
This fall our Stake [American Fork West], in conjunction with the American Fork Stake, has been invited to participate in a humanitarian aid project for the members of the church in Zimbabwe, Africa. . . We are asking all members to prayerfully consider . . . and donate something [a list of needed items was provided] to the effort. On Tuesday, October 2nd or Wednesday, October 3rd bring your donations to the Stake Center 688 W. 500 N.) where they will be sorted and packaged for shipment. After packaging, the items will be transported to the Church’s Humanitarian Center and loaded into large cargo containers for shipment overseas.
I would encourage all who live in American Fork to contribute to this effort. Also, if you have friends in American Fork you can contribute through them (they can provide you with a list of needed items). Or alternatively, even if you don’t live in American Fork, just take your donated items to the Stake Center. One point of contact is Paul Strong, AF West Stake Welfare Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If members show enough enthusiasm for these projects, then it seems likely that the LDS Church leadership will continue to ramp up its humanitarian efforts.
Here is an excellent example of how members can have a positive impact in a top-down organizational environment.