The World's Best Organization Should be the Church, says new Director of Program Effectiveness

Paul Brantley is the Adventist world church's director of the new Office of Assessment and Program Effectiveness. [photo: Rajmund Dabrowski]
Paul Brantley is the Adventist world church's director of the new Office of Assessment and Program Effectiveness. [photo: Rajmund Dabrowski]

[March 31, 2008] Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, Ansel Oliver/ANN

Paul Brantley wants the Seventh-day Adventist Church to be the world's best-run organization.

It's now his job to help make that happen.

Brantley, a former education and healthcare consultant, is director of the church's new Office of Assessment and Program Effectiveness. And he'll start at the top, beginning with the 500 staff members here at world church headquarters.

"I find it profitable to sit down and say, 'I need to learn how to put the keys in the right place so I don't waste time looking for the keys;' this is what I want to help the church do," Brantley said in a recent interview replete with examples of management effectiveness.

He draws his examples from top multi-national corporations across many industries.

"The service you get at a Ritz Carlton Hotel is incomparable," Brantley said. "It's the top rated hotel, but it didn't get that way by accident. It became a best run organization. Great management principles are as real as the laws of health."

He rejects such labels as "hatchet person" and "efficiency expert," instead saying the best efficiency experts are people who work on the job.

"Instead of going around holding people accountable, I would like to see my office build into our organization a sense of stewardship and a sense of assessment in order to improve," he said. He plans to partner with administrative officers at all 13 world church regions to install assessment systems in their territories.

Last week, Brantley addressed the church's General Conference Leadership Council to introduce his new office, which was created with a vote of the Executive Committee in October. "My role is to promote a spirit-filled, evidence-based culture of excellence within the world church that inspires each employee to see the excitement and the potential and the joy of being of a part of the world's best run organization," he said.

Response has been positive. "We are enthusiastic so I invited him to come," said Paul Ratsara, president of the church's Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region, one of the first world church leaders to request Brantley's attention.

"We want to start as soon as possible, starting with me. It will bring a lot of progress and improvement and it will reinforce what we are already trying to do as a [church here]," Ratsara said.

Originally, Brantley questioned if having the Adventist Church the world's best run organization was presumptive. "Then I looked at quotations from the Bible and writings from church co-founder Ellen White on excellence, order and system and I said no, that's not presumptive," he said.

Among other things, Brantley plans to help assess if several world church departments can work together better, including Youth and Volunteers.

"Lots of departments deal with youth," he said. "And we also have a number of different departments dealing with missionaries and sometimes I get the feeling that those departments don't always necessarily connect from the missionary's standpoint."

He also intends to have departments focus on their goals instead of their budgets. "Instead of just increasing the budget by 2 percent, 5 percent each year, we'll look at the budget in relation to the program," he said. "The budget is only a means to an end."

Brantley earned a doctorate from Ohio State University in educational development with an emphasis in evaluation in 1975 and has since conducted national evaluations of Adventist curriculum. He also served as director of the education department at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, and launched a refereed research journal on Christian education while a professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

He said he hopes to conduct leadership assessments at all levels of the church, eventually working toward local pastoral assessments.

Brantley has given attention to front-line workers before, most recently during a six-year stint as a consultant at Florida Hospital in Orlando.

"He has a vision of excellence, always calling people to do their best," said Dick Tibbits, chief people officer and senior vice president for Florida Hospital.

Brantley served the seven-hospital network by helping implement training for leaders at all levels of the organization preparing to move up to the next level of responsibility, Tibbits said.

Brantley also provided training for hundreds of nurses, empowering them to make decisions about improvements.

"The employees got excited about the organization, Brantley recalled.

"We miss him around here," Tibbits said.

The Adventist Church's new Office of Assessment and Program Effectiveness invites feedback and suggestions. Interested persons may contact Paul Brantley at brantleyp@gc.adventist.org or (301) 680-6630.

--additional reporting by Taashi Rowe