“How do we effectively communicate (vision, values and policies) within the multi-site model without adding layers of complexity?”
When somebody figures out the answer to this question, let me know. Seriously! With multi-site strategy, the complexity factor increases greatly. It’s a constant process trying to figure out what’s non-negotiable for everyone and what’s unique to each campus. We’re early into our own first multi-site launch and each day it seems we discover a new “exception” to the rule. As nice as it would be to launch and hit the autopilot button, it is unrealistic. So, we take it as it comes and adapt as we learn along the way. Here’s three snapshots of the multi-site communication frameworks we’ve encountered through our multi-site journey.
Getting started (1)
The heart behind everything is to empower departments and campuses using “freedom within a framework”. The objective isn’t to boss everybody around with a list of rules, but to instead provide guidelines to work within.
- One web site, enews and bulletin template for the whole church. Although, each campus may have their own unique communication points on a blog or announcement reel, we use the same weekly communication vehicles for 20% of the content that affects 80% of the audience. While it’s not perfect, it eliminates the run-around to multiple sites and makes the basic information easy to find—regardless of the campus.
- Look for ways to produce it once and use it twice. Any place we can eliminate redundancies we try to do it to reduce time, costs and errors.
- Simplify the problem. Rather than react to everything as a complex execution, we consistently boil every project down to its core: “what do we want to happen as a result of this,” and work backwards from there.
- One team; multiple campuses. We all gather as one church, once a week for the all staff meeting.
- Adhere to the same Communication Values. Look for ways to bundle and simplify everything we do. Even though the next steps and ministry teams for each campus are very individualized and unique, we still look for ways to tie the next steps to the same major themes (e.g., the weekend series, volunteers, groups, etc.)
After the first year or so (2)
We’re trying to harness the power of a message and enhance the experience, not create a list of dos and don’ts. There’s a balance between centralizing efforts that maximize excellence and creating a bottleneck for the things that don’t matter. We’re constantly evaluating that contrast, tension and the multiple paradoxes.
- Scalability is the goal but scalability is not the same thing as duplication.
- The focus is mission not mirroring. .
- Community is a shared mission, expression is not.
- Value is communicated different ways to different people.
- Our church, and the community developed around it, is not contained in one box and shipped for use in multiple locations. We’re evolving our DNA to live multi-site as a ministry, not as an export.
Where we are now (3)
After working with a generalized framework for about two years, we’ve gained experience, clarity and advice – from - others. As a result, we recently finalized a working first draft of our Campus Constants to help usher us into the next season and future campus launches.
It’s a moving target, but this shared roadmap helps us all aim for the same bull's-eye.