I just finished Bishop Grant Hagiya’s newly-minted Spiritual Kaizen: How to Become a Better Church Leader and I happy to commend it to your own shelves. As I’ve written already, there is much food for thought within. Hagiya’s brief volume, which draws heavily on his doctoral work, combines decades of church leadership experience, lifelong study of the martial arts (I like the idea of a Bishop that can break boards!), and the latest in organizational development studies. His central thesis is that great leaders practice kaizen, a Japanese term that basically means “constant growth.” One illustration of this concept comes from a story he tells about a retreat center (not institutions that are usually known for their entrepreneurship) that his annual conference frequented:
“Every time I returned to that retreat center some small new addition was noticeable. One time it was the addition of card holders on the sleeping room doors so people could put their business cards on the door to identify where they were located. Another time they had a seasonal prayer card placed on the desk in each room. Still another time there was the addition of a dessert cart. Each time I returned, there was a small but noticeable improvement present. This is kaizen at its best!” (104)
Giving this excerpt and describing his basic thesis, while accurate, do not due justice to the depth and breadth what lies within. Compared to most of the paint-by-numbers church leadership books (you’ve read one, you’ve read them all), Bishop Hagiya’s work feels like a crash course in advanced leadership theory. He sums up a massive amount of current literature in concise manner, and is well worth the read in that regard. Combined with his insights from martial arts training and personal experience as a church leader at all levels, Spiritual Kaizen will make an enjoyable addition to your summer reading plans, whether laity or clergy.