Today, it seems many do not want laminate on their countertops. It must be granite or some other material. When we moved a few years ago, our realtor told us that we really need to update our countertops; granite is what buyers want today.

It is interesting. We want granite on our countertops or real wood floors, yet we live in laminate organizations.

What are laminate organizations? They are organizations with a superficial layer in which everything seems fine. However, underneath, many are unhappy or unconnected. It looks OK, yet the foundation is weak and the outside may be starting to show some wear. Within this type of organization, we just muddle along.

How many organizations do you know look like this?

It may be happening in your company. Outside, the graphics, website, management team, and news stories all look and sound good. Then it hits. Some story which shows cracks under the surface. HP may be the recent example in which the laminate cracked and, underneath, people are unhappy and questioning the leadership direction and other trust factors.

It may be happening in your church? When you go to church on Sunday, everyone is smiling, happy, joyful. It seems like a wonderland of friendly relationships and deep discussions about being better people and strengthening our faith. Underneath, though, the laminate is hiding certain things. The relationships may only be surface-level ones. No real community or person-to-person connections. It may be personal fiefdoms of groups, where new people are not really welcomed. They can watch, but not connect. The community is closed, the interactions are unreal.

Maybe it is time to wake up, especially for the leaders of these organizations. People are hungry for what is real, vibrant yet strong and to be a key part of something with an inspiring, connected mission. People don’t want laminate organizations; they want something better.

This is a challenge for leaders. We must determine if our organizations are laminate ones – superficial, rotting from the inside, disallowing new energy and creativity to enter in.

There are signs. It could be team member turnover, although in today’s economy people may be just hanging on. It could be members leaving to join other churches, organizations, groups or teams. It could be the same people, over and over again, showing up for the same meetings, same lessons, or same youth or adult groups. New people are not coming in or staying. The organization could be stalemated, no expansion or growth, just meandering along.

Leaders need to be attuned to the signs of their organizations and ensure it is not just another laminate organization. There must be some depth, connectedness, sense of community, sense of mission, etc. To some degree, in these times of weathered souls, we need something other than laminate organizations now more than ever.

Is your organization, church, or company a laminate one? What are the signs? What can be done to change it?