Hiroshi Mikitani’s Rule of 3 and 10

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I just watched Craig Groeschel’s leadership podcast on Anticipatory Leadership and he explained a very helpful concept that he learnt. As a pastor of a multi-site church, he has seen his church change dramatically through the years. Maybe you’ve seen your church change in numbers also. The challenge is this: How can the church adapt to grow effectively?

According to Hiroshi Mikatani, CEO of Rakuten, everything breaks in multiples of 3 and powers of 10. What does he mean? I’ll use a church example though it is usually used for business. Imagine you have a youth group of 2 persons. It’s easy to run events and communicate information. However, Mikatani says that things break at 3. That means when your youth group becomes 3, structures need to change. You need to re-organise the way meetings are planned and run, the way you disseminate information. If you don’t, your group will not grow. Or if it does grow, the systems in place doesn’t sustain the growth and it dies out.

In between 3 and 9 persons, the new structures in place seem to work just as well. Until you reach 10 persons in your youth group. Everything breaks again. You need to re-organise your structure. Maybe you need to split the group into smaller units so it can grow to 10 again (I think that’s a good model for small group multiplication). Maybe you need a core leadership team to make decisions for the whole group of 10. You can’t keep on asking for everyone’s opinion. You leave it in the hands of the core team. Re-org is necessary for further growth.

Once you re-org for 10 youths, the structures in place work well till roughly 30 youths (multiple of 3). You re-org again. Maybe you need a deeper small group structure with increased accountability and hierarchy. For a plant to grow tall, the roots must grow deeper. Without a solid structure where each person is cared for, it all falls apart very soon. Then, if all works well, maybe God blesses your youth group to reach 100! Then you re-org again to sustain growth to 300 youths, then 1000, 3000 etc. I wrote on specific steps to re-org your church here.

Try out Mikatani’s rule of 3 and 10. Analyse where your church or group is at right now and if re-organisation is needed for enhanced growth. Are there methods that worked when you were a group of 10 that are still being used now when you’re around 30 strong? Do you need to kill some old rules and birth new ones? Have the courage to anticipate and prepare for the next phase of growth.

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