Management science is playing a growing part in the Church's renewal 10 years after Vatican II. GERARD TAVERNIER, associate editor of International Management, looks at the computer in the sacristy.
Priests in ( olumbia, South America, are working to a five-year plan worthy of any progressive industrial firm. The plan, running to some 130 printed pages, relies heavily on charts and graphs. It covers virtually every aspect of management, with forecasts of goals, manpower and training needs for the next 15 years.
In Ireland, the Jesuit order is training its own management consultancy group for purposes of planning, formulating policies and establishing priorities. In Padua, Italy, Franciscan friars are using computers for their world-wide fund-raising activities.
Church authorities are applying modern management techniques to their daily work as never before. Methods successfully applied in industry for years are being adopted throughout the Church it h the zeal and enthusiasm of recent converts.
Bishops, priests, nuns and monks in their religious garb mingle with business executives at management courses and conferences. In London this June some 25 clergymen and religious staff were participating in a three-day course tailored specifically to their needs. They learned about such sophisticated management techniques as critical path analysis (CPA), for example. CPA is used to plan projects so that the right resources are available at the right time.
The ecclesiastical interest in management is part of the Church of Rome's attempts to bring itself up to date, begun at the Vatican councils ten years ago. In more recent years there has emerged what is called "the concept of stewardship." The Church now holds that God has provided it, with both human and material resources to perform his work. Unless maximum use is made of these resources, say the Church authorities, God's work is not being done properly. "They are now very much interested in applying a more systematic or professional approach to the administration of the more secular affairs of the Church," says Alfred Latham-Koenig, economic adviser for McKinsey & Co. in London, He has headed several consulting assignments for the Church.
"A new term is emerging," says Fr Peter Rudge, an Australian priest serving as consultant to churches and religious institutions throughout the world for the past six years, "Just as we have moral theologians, we now have 'management theologians' who arc concerned with improving the administration of religious enterprises."
Fr Gordon George, who heads the public relations office for the Jesuit order in Rome, reports that the talk in between prayers in convents and monasteries is today filled with management jargon. Nuns and monks discuss the organisation, priorities, establishing controls arid feedback, delegating responsibilities, penetrating the market, with even occasional references to the competition and potential customers.
UK consultant John Humble, who is internationally known for his development of manage ment by objectives (MBO), has been called in by the Church for advice and assistance. "I hesitated at first to use commercial terms but they insist.
They know that this is what the Church needs today," says Humble, director of Urwick, Orr & Partners based in London.
The Jesuits have introduced formal MBO programmes on a world-wide scale. With MBO, individual priests at each level set targets for themselves, together with their immediate superior, and define the areas. where they can most effectively meet those targets. Performance is measured quantitatively.
The need for management expertise is particularly felt by hundreds of religious orders, such as the Jesuits, Benedictines and Franciscans. These and other orders administer hospitals, schools, orphanages, old people's homes, missions in developing countries and other similar institutions for the Church throughout the 'world.
"To a great extent many of these orders are comparable to multinational firms," says Latham-Koenig of McKinsey. "They 'have the same administrative problems, with personnel and activities spread throughout the world."
The various religious orders operate quite independently.
'Ihere is no central organisation to direct or control their activities. Superiors are elected by
all members of their congregation for a term of five or seven years.-
"Those of us who are in administration are there not by design but by chance," says Sister Catherine. mother superior in the Order of St Columban in Ireland. "Generally we gain experience in administering a local hospital or school."
But now the move is on to supplement experience with
professional management training. For example, the Jesuits have begun a series of management conferences for the order's 75 superiors, who are its leaders at the national evel in countries throughout he world.
The courses were inaugurated following an 18month study by Fr George of the problems that were arising in Jesuit operations in various parts of the world.
"I concluded," he says, "that many of the problems were due solely to the fact that the existing system did not seem to be generating enough leadership."
As there is some resistance within the Church to adopting modern management techniques, Fr George tactfully labelled the seminars as colloquia.
"That simply means talking to each other," he explains. "We thought no one could object to our doing that."
Each conference was held in a different language and aimed for a cultural mix of delegates from different parts of the world. The Jesuits invited as lecturers management consultants such as Humble and prominent Catholic industrialists such as Jerome O'Hea, managing director of Colt International Ltd., UK manufacturers of heating and ventilating equipment. A psychologist or a sociologist also attended each meeting.
Case studies, rrole-playing, group dynamics, T-groups and other techniques intended to improve managerial styles were used as colloquia. "Much of all this was amateurish and even
badly organised," admits Fr George. "But it was a start. The small pebbles dropped in a pond and are still producing ripples.
"Similar seminars have proliferated at the local level, notably in Spain, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, throughout South America and, most recently, in the US," says Fr George. "Equally important," he adds, "is the effect the meetings alone have had. They seem to have spread around the world in an effective way the notion of the superiors as professional administrators."
Many priests consider this to be an essential image for the Church to project. In India a Jesuit priest has persuaded the Church authorities that they can best help solve the country's social and economic needs • by improving management both in the Church and in industry. Fr Joseph Britt°, head of the management training centre of the Indian Social Institute in New Delhi, travels throughout India preaching the virtues of good management with the fervour of a missionary. "This is my mission in life," says the 37-year-old who holds a degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Business Administration in the US,
In the Vatican itself computers have been installed for payroll and other administrative purposes. Another Honeywell computer installation is being set up at the Pontifico Missioni Estere, the Vatican body controlling the activities of Catholic missions throughout the world.
Even contemplative orders have called in consultants,' mainly for advice on how to support themselves instead of
continuing to depend on alms. The orders seek advice on tax matters and financial controls, for example. Older members invariably fail to claim for pensions:to which they are. entitled.
In the UK a non-profit consultancy has been established specifically to help Christian churches and institutions. Since it was founded six years ago, Christian Organisations Research and Advisory Trust has been involved in the reorganisation of more than 200 religious bodies.
The consultancy has a staff of 30 whose specialist interests range from pension schemes and land use to management training and organisational development.
In addition to using consultants, the CHurch is making more use of lay specialists in certain fields, ln the UK it has appointed an ex-merchant
banker to manage its investment portfolio and improve the flow of charitable funds from the source to those in need. He is also introducing a more professional approach to fund raising instead of depending on poor bOxes and Sunday collet:tit:ins.
In Venezuela, the various Catholic dioceses have jointly established an Institute of Economic Affairs administered by lay financiers to manage the Church's assets and provide management services to individual parish churches. As a result the churches have greatly improved the return on their investments and are now able to finance urgent activities which they previously couldn't afford. The Vatican has set up an international commission, comprising both clergy and lay financial experts, to look into the international finances of the Church, how it invests its money and how it can improve the revenue which can be spent 'on its ministry.
Not too long ago it called in McKinsey management consultants to investigate the administration of the Church in Malta. The consultants found that Church officials did not even know the value of its assets, or even exactly what property it owned, "Most of it had been accumulated over the centuries when no one thought it worthwhile to keep an inventory," comments LathamKoenig, who headed the assignment. "Consequently, although the Maltese Church found itself with large assets it had little ready cash to meet its needs."
A financial council, staffed by lay specialists, was established to administer the Church property and improve the cash
Undoubtedly the most serious problem facing the Church is its manpower shortage. Recruitment figures are dropping_ in the face of a mounting exodus. The Vatican daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reports that some 20,000 priests have left the Church in recent years. Another 20 per cent of the present total of 450,000 are expected to leave in the next ten years.
Therefore the Church is adopting much more sophisticated recruitment and selection methods. The training of priests and other clergy has been changed radically, with more planned in-service training and experience.
A recent Vatican decree recommends that student priests should in the future attend secular universities, instead of seminaries, to get a better understanding of the world. The Jesuit order in the UK has closed two major colleges as a result.
Also, until recently the religious orders usually left their recruiting entirely to socalled "vocation promoters." They visited Catholic schools and described life in the order, sometimes using films or coloured slides, then appealed for volunteers..
. Today many orders are calling on advertising agencies and recruiting consultancies. These are helping religious orders prepare job descriptions, define the type of candidate they seek, and design recruitment advertising intended for the mass media, "Do be cheerful," Hugo Dunn-Maynell, a London advertising executive, tells nuns he trains as recruiters. "Holy poverty is all right in its way, but don't rub it in. You know life can still be fun, so say so."
The Order of Trinitarians, with headquarters in Maryland, in the US, two years ago advertised for prospective recruits in Playboy, a man's magazine better known for its nudes than for religious commentary. Howard W. Lederer, Playboys advertising director, says Fr Joseph Luto, a senior official of the order, told him that he selected Playboy because "he thought it was the best place to reach healthy young men."
As might be expected, the rush to embrace modern management methods is not universally endorsed within the Church. Many members feel that after nearly 2,000 years' existence the Church does not need "management gimmicks" now to achieve its goals. They fear that fundamental religious values may give way to mere administration and greater efficiency. Some see virtue in hard work and find no solace in turning dials on electronic equipment. Fr George even reports hearing such slogans as "Keep IBM out of the sanctuary" in Vatican circles.
Reprinted by special permission from the October 1974 issue of "international Management.
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