CNLP 112: Les McKeown on Getting Your Church or Organization into a Place of Predictable Success

How do some organizations and churches get themselves into a place of regular, predictable success? It’s less mysterious than you think. Author and business leader Les McKeown takes you through the seven stages of every organization’s life cycle, from early struggle to death rattle, and shows you how to find predictable success.

Welcome to Episode 112 of the Podcast.


Guest Links: Les McKeown

Les McKeown

Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track–and Keeping It There

The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success

Predictable Success Quiz

Les McKeown on Twitter

Links Metioned

The Canadian Church Leader’s Podcast

Scott Magdalein on Episode 93

TrainedUp Leadership

TrainedUp’s Free eBook: Recruit and Deploy More Volunteers

ReThink Leadership

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Grant Vissers; Episode 97 

Brian Wangler; Episode 76 


Takeaways from This Episode


Les McKeown breaks down the seven stages of the Predictable Success cycle and how it relates to the modern church.

Early Struggle. It’s a struggle for a market, whether you’re a church or a business. People have to want what you’re offering. This lasts 1-3 years.

Fun. This is when the organization is at its most evangelical. Everyone’s coming in and having a good time. You’re growing, cash is flowing and everyone wants part of what you’re doing.

White water. Complexity is added. It reaches the point where you can’t improvise your way to everything. You have to manage in this stage if you want to continue to grow. To be part of the 20% who makes it past The Struggle stage, you need a leader who’s visionary, the person who sees the bigger picture and gets annoyed with detail, the operator, the person who’s going to make it happen, and the processor, the person who’s going to ensure things are will be done right.

Predictable Success. If you make it out of white water, predictable success is the stage where you need to scale. It means you can get as big as your industry will let you in whatever geographical arena you want to play in. This is what distinguishes predictable success from fun.

Treadmill. This is mirror opposite of white water. You’re an over-processed organization where you prioritize form over function. Face time becomes important and you start using the word “compliance” to describe your standards and procedures. No one wants to listen to the visionaries, and they start to leave. Everyone is going along with the process.

The Big Rut. There’s still tension, and there’s a challenge function. You’ve lost the power to self-diagnose, and the organization has lost any ownership of what they’re doing.

Death rattle. In this stage, there are artificial signs of life, and the organization is a dying entity.

Quotes from this Episode


Lasting Impact Team Edition


The team edition is a compilation of eight videos designed to allow the teams in your church follow along as a supplement to the book. I highlight key points from the material and discuss additional hot topics that relate to your ministry.

Get your copy of Lasting Impact today! 

Lasting Impact frames 7 pivotal conversations every church team needs to have, covering subjects like declining church attendance, team health, creating a culture volunteers love and how to engineer changes in your church.

Order on Amazon, or visit! The video team edition, featuring 8 videos where I teach through the key concepts in the book, is available now as well!

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Next Episode: Rich Birch

Rich Birch has worked for 3 large churches that have launched over a dozen new locations, and he’s seen many small and mid-sized churches turn things around. What’s their secret? They do unreasonable things.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 113.

CNLP 112: Les McKeown on Getting Your Church or Organization into a Place of Predictable Success


  1. […] the insights of Les McKeown (Episode 112) and others, Tony has identified 7 specific stages in the life-cycle of a church and shows you […]

  2. Chrisledoo on November 6, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    It is impressive that you guys are doing something unprecedented in church history. The “Spirit of God” could not provide the predictable results expected by church leaders so you guys found a better way.Congratulations!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 7, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Unless, of course, you read Exodus 18, or Acts 6 or study the way Jesus interacted with his disciples and built the future.

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