Preventing Group Elephantiasis - Part 4

I spent the week talking about the importance of a strategy that forces groups to think about multiplication rather than simply growing bigger. Ultimately, it asks the group to think outside itself - something groups usually aren't good at.

The natural inclination of groups is to move toward self-preservation and to turn inward. We're afraid if we multiply our group, or our organization for that matter, we'll lose the things that made it great. In reality the opposite is the case. Relationships, accountability, depth, trust, and all the other marks of a strong group only get thinner the bigger a group gets. That's an intuitive statement as long as it's not connected with the possibility that something in your group might change.

Ultimately the question for leaders of groups is this: why does our group exist, really? If the reason is anything other than "to get as many people as possible in one group" you have to think about multiplication. Relationships are developed better in smaller groups. Movement toward a purpose happens quicker in more agile groups. Topics and content can be more relevant to peoples' lives when their lives are actually known. Authenticity and truth-telling happens in smaller groups. And leaders are developed more quickly when they are forced to step up and lead.

So how big is too big? Depends on the purpose of your group. That's for you to discern. But whatever the organization, whatever the group, there is a ceiling. And if you wait until you discover it by accident before you begin thinking about how to get down, you (and your group) will have a sore head and a long fall.