I was talking with another seminary president recently about Winebrenner’s 2018 decision to sell our building facility to The University of Findlay. While, on the surface, that decision may seem strictly financial, it has greatly enhanced our ability to carry out the entirety of our mission. In business terminology, we’ve been able to leverage the building sale for greater mission fulfillment. Physical resources, such as buildings, are one of four categories of key resources according to the Business Model Generator; the others include financial, human, and intellectual resources. You can click here to read more about how low fixed costs for physical space and personnel are core parts of our emerging “operating system.”
While often the major expenses within an organization, personnel and building facilities are only a portion of the overall key resources needed to fulfill an organizational mission. We’ll consider each of these briefly:
Physical space – As more and more students are decentralized from our Findlay location and more enroll in online courses, physical building space plays a very different role than it did even a decade ago. Gone are the days of “if you build it they will come” in terms of buildings. How can existing facility space be best utilized for fulfilling our organizational mission?
Financial – You can click here to read more about the systemic aspects of finances within theological education. As part of this series on the business model canvas I explored revenue streams in my previous post (click here to read). In God’s economy, there are ample resources; we too often focus on the scarcity of God’s provision as opposed to the abundance of his generosity. However, that doesn’t eliminate the hard work of making sure we’re engaging those who can assist in building our financial resources.
Human – Within a seminary, we tend to think in terms of faculty, staff, and administration as the breakdown of our human resources. As Jim Collins reminds us in Good to Great, it’s not just having the right people on an organizational “bus,” but also making sure they are in the best seats for optimum performance. The location of personnel influences the need for physical space as a key resource. Each of these components is inter-related.
Intellectual – In a previous era, Peter Drucker used the phrase “knowledge worker” to identify the person who could best serve an organization. Perhaps a better metaphor for the 21st century is a “learning worker” since knowledge often becomes obsolete in a rapidly changing organizational environment. However, there are timeless elements within theological education since many faculty are teaching in areas of biblical languages, theology, and church history. Finding the best balance between the timely and timeless is the task of any organization!
This list is not exhaustive and is intended to spur on further conversation. When considering something like technology it becomes evident how some of these areas overlap. Questions about technological infrastructure and ability exist at the intersection of human resources and physical resources. How we redesign our spaces to best fulfill our mission as well as meet the needs of those we serve continues to be a core part of our organizational conversations.
– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President
– Image from Pexels, accessed on Adobe Spark