December 15, 2010 Tony Morgan

Tavern Rules

The other night, Emily and I went out with friends. Since we love a new adventure, we tried Marlow’s Tavern for the first time. It was a great experience, and the food was very good. (By the way, I want both a unique experience and good food when I pay a premium to eat at a restaurant…mainly because the food Emily serves is typically better and much cheaper.)

When we sat down for dinner, they handed us a menu that included these “Tavern Rules” to shape our experience:

tavern rules

I’m not a rules guy. Generally the fewer the rules, the better. Too many rules slow down momentum. If your objective is to avoid change, the best way to accomplish that vision is to create policy manuals filled with hoops for people to jump through. Over time, the focus of the entire organization will shift from trying to accomplish a big vision to making sure all the rules are followed.

However, as Marlow’s Tavern has learned, having a few rules can really help shape the culture of an organization. They help distinguish who you are from all the other organizations that may be trying to do the same thing you do. At Marlow’s, we can tell from their set of rules that the guest experience is a high priority, and they want it to be unique compared to other restaurants. (By the way, I really appreciate the elimination of singing “Happy Birthday” in their restaurants. There’s nothing more annoying than that.)

As a ministry team exercise, you may want to take your next gathering and decide what the “Tavern Rules” look like for your team or organization. What rules capture the values that make you unique? What rules keep the focus on the vision you’re trying to accomplish? What rules shape your organization’s personality? Keep the list to seven or less.

After you’ve finished the exercise, I’d love to see what you’ve come up with. Either email me your list or post it here in the comments.

What are your tavern rules?

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and
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