Understanding the Seven Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle

Discipleship is a process that begins after conversion and continues throughout a believer’s life. Discipleship calls for our undivided attention and commitment to follow the commands of our Lord. Discipleship is not an option for any church or believer. Christ mandated it in the Great Commission. To disciple others is to obey our Lord’s command; to do otherwise is to disobey Him.

It becomes easy for every church’s disciple-making mission to get cluttered with lots of things to do. And most church leaders are very good at doing things. As a result, administration of programs replaces actual disciple making practices. As you look ahead to the next year, slow down and refresh your conviction for disciplemaking by looking to the Master himself.

How does a Jesus-centric disciplemaking conviction rescue you from a “program management” culture? Have you resigned to herding people through classes and events? Are you relying too much on better preaching? Or do you have a robust, disciple-making strategy built around life-on-life investment, like Jesus?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Disciplemaker’s Handbook, by Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick

Many people believe that discipleship is important, but they need help. In fact, the vast majority of Christians report that they have never been personally discipled by a more mature follower of Jesus. Is it any wonder that they have a difficult time knowing how to disciple others?

If making disciples of Jesus is the greatest cause on earth, how should we equip people to do it? This handbook is a practical guide for how to embrace the discipleship lifestyle – being a disciple of Jesus and how to make other disciples of Jesus.

Whether you are a parent who wants to disciple your children, a small group leader who wants to disciple those in your group, or a church leader who wants to disciple future leaders, the seven key elements in this handbook form a framework for understanding discipleship that can be applied in countless situations. In addition, there are questions provided in each section to help you think through how to apply the material to your disciple making efforts.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Auxano Founder Will Mancini recently recalled a conversation with Robert Coleman, author of “The Master Plan of Evangelism.” Coleman’s comment was “ The disciples were not surprised by the Great Commission.” He was clarifying that the mission to make disciples was not a new idea of a novel thought. It was what the twelve had seen modeled in every nook and cranny of life. Furthermore, every act, every event, every word of our Savior had a multiplication intent. And as a ministry leader you are reading this today, called by God and leading ministry, because his intent translated to impact.

So stop your “doing” that just “does.” Focus, prioritize and practice-until-you-master the kind of “doing” that multiplies

These seven elements are simply a framework we’ve found helpful in summarizing Jesus’ disciplemaking method, helpful for personal discipleship and teaching in a local church context.

Relationships – The central impulse for explaining Jesus’ mission to others and to make disciples is love. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he have his one and only Son.” By his example, Jesus showed us that disciple making is the development of genuine life-on-life relationships motivated by Jesus-style love.

Jesus – Jesus drew people to himself. He was unabashed and clear in speaking the truth. He is the centerpiece and the focus of all discipleship. We are not discipling people into a program; we are introducing them to a person. The mission of Jesus was to give himself in love for the sake of others so that people would know him, reassure him, and promote him and his message to others.

Intentionality – Jesus had a strategy. He had a plan, a road map for making disciples, what Dr. Robert Coleman calls The Master Plan. Jesus guided, coached, and developed his disciples into disciple makers and released them, commissioning them to disciple others as Jesus had discipled them. Their disciple-making work changed the world.

Bible – The Word of God is the training manual that Jesus relied upon in his ministry and provided for all discipleship and teaching. As the author of the Scriptures, Jesus has provided its contents, in both the Old and New Testaments, to give us his teaching, his correction, and his training on the important matters of life and godliness.

Spirit – Jesus’ life and ministry were fueled by the Holy Spirit. After living for thirty years in obscurity, Jesus began formally making disciples after the Spirit descended upon him when he was baptized. From that point forward, he remained in a constant state of openness to the Spirit.

Journey – Jesus led his disciples on a journey, inviting them to learn by walking with him and watching him. Though it is a disjointed growth story, it begins with his invitation to come and see and culminates with the Great Commission, where they are sent to go and multiply.

Multiply – Jesus’ master plan was to make disciples who were like him in their message and their methods, and then to multiply them by sending them out to disciple others as they had been discipled by him. Jesus teaches us to make disciples who make disciples until the end of time.

Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick, The Disciplemaker’s Handbook

A NEXT STEP

Set aside one morning or afternoon for a personal retreat. Go someplace that is out of the office and life giving. Allow yourself time to unplug and reflect on the questions around each of the seven elements of discipleship. Journal your responses to each question below.

Relationships

  • Why is a commitment to relationships so important in disciple making? Are you willing to make the relationship with the person(s) you are discipline a priority?
  • Why is a church community important in discipling relationships?

Jesus

  • In what ways does a person’s understanding of Jesus and his gospel impact the kind of disciple they become?

Intentionality

  • What is intentionality and why is it important in discipleship?
  • For the discipling relationship you want, what special knowledge and skills do you need?

Bible

  • In what way is Jesus central to personally knowing the Bible?

Spirit

  • How do we stifle or work against the Spirit?
  • How do we encourage the work of the Spirit?

Journey

  • Why is it important to know and understand the basic discipleship journey?

Multiply

  • In what way is discipleship the ongoing need of all Christians and the core mission of the church?

After this time of reflection and prayer, what would God have you to do as a result? Identify one to two next steps in your personal disciple-making journey to act on in the next seven days. After walking this road for a season, lead others from your team to do the same.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 77-1, released October 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

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How Are You Using Social Media to Tell a Bigger Story?

Communication today is real-time, all the time. Thanks to the continuing innovations in technology and the rapid rate of adaption, events that occur around the world – or across the street – are now capable of being seen by millions of individuals. And it’s not just the “viewing” that is important – it’s what effect those views have on the individual watching them.

The social media platforms that exist today, as well as those which are being developed and will be the next big thing, can have a far-reaching impact on the ministries of your church.

Are you taking advantage of them? Or, do you feel like they take advantage of you? Is social media creating communication traction? Or is it becoming a constant distraction?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Trending Up, edited by Mark Forrester

Every church has a story that can change the course of people’s lives but how do you share that story beyond your four walls?

Throughout these pages, you’ll find simple strategies for creating powerful content that can connect your church to the people who need the life-changing story of Christ. Leading church communications specialists break down complex social media themes, providing accessible, practical answers to questions that all churches face, such as:

  • What should I be posting based on my goals?
  • How do I use social media as a tool to foster community?
  • How do I get the people I’m trying to reach with social media?

With this book, your church will be ready to reach one of the biggest missions fields today: the billions of active users on social media. Topics include:

  • Why Social Media?
  • Content Strategy
  • Story: Your Church’s Story & God’s Story
  • Connecting with Your Church
  • Reaching Your Community

The book includes recommended books, websites, blogs, and other tools to help you develop your social media presence.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The power of story to captivate people and move them to action has been used by leaders for thousands of years. From the earliest oral traditions passed from generation to generation to cat memes that have a lifespan only as long as it takes to view them, stories can be a powerful communication tool.

The platform of social media can take the power of story and communicate it instantly to hundreds or thousands of people. With it, you can connect with people at work, at home, in the car, at the store – literally almost anywhere.

However, that same platform can turn off hundreds or thousands of people if it is not used in a way that aligns with the rest of your church’s story.

Your social media strategy should fit into everything your church communicates, which means it must fit into a bigger story.

The best way to bring social media into a bigger story is to use it to help tell the three bigger stories already happening around you: your church’s bigger story, your community’s bigger story, and God’s bigger story. Identifying each one is the first step in understanding how social media can complement – and not compete with – everything you do.

Connect to Your Church’s Bigger Story

There’s a good chance your church has boiled down its work into one simple mission statement. Everything you do as an organization – from program and marketing to human resources – should fit into this concise statement. That includes social media.

Every picture and video, post, and reply is aimed at furthering your mission,

Connect to Your Community’s Bigger Story

If you look long and hard at the community you live in, there’s a good chance you’ll see groups of people gathered around certain ideas. Your community is crawling with bigger stories.

Knowing your city’s DNA can help you use your social media efforts to tell your community’s bigger story. Find one or two of those stories and engage your social media efforts to tell it.

Connect to God’s Bigger Story

If your church incorporates Christian doctrine into everything you do, why shouldn’t you include social media? If we meet, pray, and serve because the Bible tells us to, may Scripture offers direction can be guided as well.

It might seem a bit trite, but the more you can connect your social media strategy to the words God has given us through Scripture, the better. Simply put, obeying God’s bigger story can help your social media to tell a bigger story.

Mark Forrester, Editor, Trending Up

A NEXT STEP

Make a chart tablet sheet for each of the three “bigger stories” listed above. Draw a vertical line down the middle of each chart tablet under the title.

In a team meeting, ask your team to review each of the three chart tablets and list social media actions that you are currently doing for that topic. Complete each of the three chart tablets in a similar manner.

Next, evaluate the lists. Are these actions effective? How do you know? How are you measuring effectiveness? Is there something you could be doing, but are not, to make the action more effective? If so, assign responsibility for someone on the team to ensure that is done.

Next, ask your team to review each of the three chart tablets and list social media actions that you should be doing for that topic. Complete each of the three chart tablets in a similar manner.

On another chart tablet, pull out the actions you should be doing, and group them under similar headings. For example, all actions under “Instagram” will be written under that heading. After you have grouped the actions by category, discuss as a team which are the most important for you to accomplish first.

Pull out the top three items, and assign responsibility, a timeline, and checkpoints for each. At a future meeting, discuss the status of each.

After the top three have been accomplished, measure their effectiveness, and review with the team how they need to be revised, left as is, or scrapped.

Follow the same process with all items on the list, three at a time, until all have been implemented.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 78-1, issued October 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

> >Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

 

Pursue Clarity in Your Daily Life

How can we equip everyone who calls our church home to live with a deep sense of purpose?

God created you with one-of-a-kind potential and placed you on earth for a specific purpose. Due to the busyness of life, you’ve likely never identified your unique calling in a way that brings life-changing clarity. Most haven’t and like a distinct echo, the promise of a vision-guided life remains illusive, drowning under the demands of life.

Your divine design—God’s design for your life—is more knowable than you realize. You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he has prepared in advance, that you should walk in them. With the right tools, you can discover your life vision and align your life vocation. You can and should know your Life Younique—your God-given identity and your God-inspired dreams. Most importantly, you can discern and design the practical next steps to get there.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Visioneering, by Andy Stanley

Everybody ends up somewhere in life.
Wouldn’t you like to end up somewhere on purpose?

What breaks your heart?
What keeps you up at night?
What could be that should be?

Andy Stanley believes these questions are breadcrumbs that lead to the discovery of personal vision. With down-to-earth practicality, Andy extracts principles from the story of Nehemiah to help you discover your purpose in life.

Visioneering includes helpful exercises and time-tested ideas for visionary decision-making, personal growth, and leadership at home and at work. Catch a glimpse of God’s incredible vision for your life, relationships, and business—and discover the passion to follow it.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

What is clarity really about? How can pursuing clarity help us discover our purpose in life?

The concept of clarity means being free from anything that obscures, blocs, pollutes, or darkens. If you have clarity, you see things simply in an understandable and precise way.

Clarity will help you make your life direction unquestionable.

Honoring God involves discovering his picture or vision of what our lives could and should be. Glorifying God involves discovering what we could and should accomplish.

We were created and re-created with his purposes in mind. And until we discover his purpose – and follow through – there will always be a hole in our soul.

As Christians, we do not have the right to take our talents, abilities, experiences, opportunities, and education and run off in any direction we please. We lost that right at Calvary. But then, why would we dream of such a thing? God has a vision for your life. What could possibly be more fulfilling than that?

At the same time, we have no right to live visionless lives either. If God – think about it – if God has a vision for what you are to do with your allotment of years, you had better get on with it. What a tragedy to miss it. Missing out on God’s plan for our lives must be the greatest tragedy this side of eternity.

Your uniqueness and individuality will reach its pinnacle in the context of your pursuit of God’s plan for your life. Manmade visions all begin to look alike after a while. Unless you discover God’s unique vision for your future, your life may very well be a rerun.

Andy Stanley, Visioneering

A NEXT STEP

Andy Stanly, in “Visioneering,” says that “Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.” To further develop this thought, he wants you to realize how vision weaves four things into the fabric of our daily lives.

Reflect on each of the areas below.

Passion – vision is always accompanied by strong emotion; the clearer the vision, the stronger the emotion. How is your vision being expressed in powerful and compelling emotions?

Motivation – vision provides motivation. In what areas of your life is vision providing motivation on a regular basis?

Direction – vision sets a direction for our lives. How is your vision prioritizing your values and providing direction to your life?

Purpose – vision gives you a reason to get up and show up. How is your vision providing purpose in your daily life?

Network with 2-3 other staff members who live in close geographic proximity. Ask them these questions around their calling and process together how God might call you into greater collaboration together to reach your community for Christ.

Except taken from SUMS Remix 75-3, issued September, 2018


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

How Leaders Can Make Thoughtful, Confident Decisions

Leaders must learn how to make the future in the midst of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is hard to even think about the future if you are overwhelmed by the present, but that is exactly the time when foresight can be most practical. Looking to distant possibilities can provide new insight for the present.

Some leaders will judge too soon and draw simplistic conclusions while others will decide too late and pay a price for their lack of courage or inaction. Some will be overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness while others will become cynical and question everything around them.

Leaders need not be overwhelmed by the volatile world around them. They must have the skills to take advantage of those opportunities, as well as the agility to sidestep the dangers.

Leadership is more preparation than planning. Planning relies on predictability. But preparation helps leaders stay clear amid uncertainty. Planning assumes continuity; preparation equips leaders to be flexible enough to seize opportunity.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Problem Solved, by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn

It can be messy and overwhelming to figure out how to solve thorny problems. Where do you start? How do you know where to look for information and evaluate its quality and bias? How can you feel confident that you are making a careful and thoroughly researched decision?

Whether you are deciding between colleges, navigating a career decision, helping your aging parents find the right housing, or expanding your business, Problem Solved will show you how to use the powerful Area Method to make complex personal and professional decisions with confidence and conviction.

Einhorn’s Area Method coaches you to make smarter, better decisions because it:

  • Recognizes that research is a fundamental part of decision-making and breaks down the process into a series of easy-to-follow steps.
  • Solves for problematic mental shortcuts such as bias, judgment, and assumptions.
  • Builds in strategic stops that help you chunk your learning, stay focused, and make your work, work for you.
  • Provides a flexible and repeatable process that acts as a feedback loop.Life is filled with uncertainty, but that uncertainty needn’t hobble us. Problem Solvedoffers a proactive way to work with, and work through, ambiguity to make thoughtful, confident decisions despite our uncertain and volatile world.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Leaders must learn to navigate the space between deciding too soon, or deciding too late, and lean toward action.

Careful reflection is critical in the decision-making process, so you don’t judge too prematurely and risk judging incorrectly.

On the opposite side, deciding too late is the classic mistake of those who love to study but have trouble getting around to deciding what to do with their research results.

Leaders need to lean toward action and not just lean back and ponder the dilemma they face.

One way to do that is to have a process that will help you and your team with an intentional decision-making process.

Decision-making is about ideas, but ideas aren’t enough. There is an important gap between having ideas and making good decisions about what to do with those ideas. Use the AREA Method to help navigate the decision process.

The first “A” stands for “Absolute,” which refers to primary, uninfluenced information from the sources at the center of your research and decision-making process.

The “R” stands for “Relative,” and refers to the perspectives of outsider around your research. It is secondary information, or information that has been filtered through sources connected to your subject.

The “E” stands for “Exploration” and “Exploitation,” and they are the twin engines of creativity – one is about expanding your research and the other is about depth. Exploration asks you to listen to other peoples’ perspectives by developing sources and interviewing. Exploitation asks you to focus inward, on you as the decision-maker, to examine how you process information, examining and challenging your own assumptions and judgment.

The second “A” stands for “Analysis,” and synthesized all of these perspectives, processing and interpreting the information you’ve collected.

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, Problem Solved

A NEXT STEP

Work through the AREA decision-making process outlined above with your team by choosing a decision you are facing. Discuss the questions below, writing answers to each area on a separate chart tablet.

A – Absolute

  • What are the critical entities involved in this decision?
  • Who are the critical people at these entities? What is their involvement and impact?
  • What does it mean as it relates to your decision?

R – Relative

  • What information is available from outside sources concerning the factors of your decision?
  • Does the emerging story explain why and how these factors will affect your decision?
  • What are the source’s incentives or biases? How are they reflected in the stories told by the source?

E – Exploration

  • What kind of answers do I need to make the decision?
  • What do I want to find out and why?
  • How do I expect to use the information I gather?

E – Exploitation

  • How might you display your decisions “big picture” and or details?
  • Can you connect your new information to existing knowledge in a chart, table, or graph?
  • Can you craft questions that you still need answered?

A – Analysis

  • What could cause the decision to fail?
  • What actions might you take if one or several of the events that could cause failure begin to play out?
  • At what point might you need to reevaluate the decision?

By following the AREA Method, your team will be able to better articulate your path to success. The thoughtful, confident decisions, anchored in research, will help you articulate the what, why, and the how of your decision-making in ways that resonate with others.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 76-2, issued September 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

 

Why It’s Always Time to Go Back to the Drawing Board

…a memo from Walt Disney, December 23, 1935, to Don Graham, Disney artist and teacher of animation classes to studio artists

Right after the holidays I want to get together with you and work out a very systematic training course for young animators, and also outline a plan of approach for our older animators.

The following occurs to me as a method of procedure:

Take the most recent pictures – minutely analyze all the business, action, and results, using the better pieces of animation as examples, going thru the picture with these questions in mind:

What was the idea to be presented?

How was the idea presented?

What result was achieved?

After seeing this result – what could have been done to the picture from this point on, to improve it?


 

To put that quote in context, by the early 1930s Walt Disney had built a successful cartoon studio and an empire on the shoulders of Mickey Mouse – but to make the leap from shorts to a feature film, he knew his artists had to develop further.

 

In the beginning, Walt himself drove his artists to the nearby Chouinard Art Institute, then expanded that educational effort by building his own in-house art school like none other.

The following quotes from Walt Disney put his actions into perspective:

The first thing I did when I got a little money to experiment, I put all my artists back in school. The art school that existed then didn’t quite have enough for what we needed, so we set up our own art school.

It was costly to set up training classes, but I had to have the men ready for things we would eventually do.

Walt Disney had a vision to do what no one had done before, and he knew that vision required resources that didn’t exist.

He didn’t give up – he created everything to complete his vision: actions that required invention, patents, training, and unbounded passion.

As a leader, what vision do you have? What resources do you need to bring that vision to reality – even the ones that don’t exist?

Do you need to create a culture of learning?


 

Before Ever After is a treasury of rare and unpublished lecture notes, photographs and drawings which reflect the culture of learning that Walt Disney curated to raise the level of his artists in preparation for their first feature: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt hand-picked instructors from the renowned Chouinard Art Institute to hold classes on action and drawing.  He screened films for study.  He brought in talent from Architect Frank Lloyd Wright to choreographer George Balanchine to humorist Alexander Woollcott to teach and inspire his team.  The result is a stunning collection of transcripts and history which not only lay the artistic foundation for the animated art form, but also give us an intimate look inside the walls of Walt Disney’s studio during a seminal and profoundly creative moment in time.

From the authors:

To help rekindle the spirit of that time, we chose to share these transcripts in exactly their original form, printed on animation paper to be distributed to the crew. It is a treasure of artistic information and a series of historic document that should inspire artists, historians, and Disney fans alike, evoking the culture of learning that existed in a time when art, technology, and passion collided inside the gates of the Disney Studio.

 

inspired by Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Walt Disney’s Animation Studio, by Don Hahn and Tracey Miller-Zarneke

 

 

How Environmental Immersion Leads to Creative Inspiration

One can be inspired by research as well as immersed in it for inspiration.  Rhonda Counts, Show Producer, Walt Disney Imagineering Florida

How you do research is dependent upon where you are in the process. Disney’s Imagineers value the story’s intent and the importance of being surrounded with or immersed in the story’s environment.

Here’s an example from one of my projects:

As you can see, there’s a definite pirate’s theme going on in part of my office. It’s both from previous work and work in process. I’ve used the theme of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” storyline – both the attraction and the movies – to develop training resources and presentations in the area of Guest Experiences.

Specifically, I created a tool – the Guest Experience Compass. And how better to demonstrate it, than using Jack Sparrow’s compass? I also created the Guest Experience Code – and based it on the storyline of the Pirates Code. Of course, both of these tools had to be introduced and used by a pirate – the Navigator – in a fully immersive learning environment. The result?

As a result of my pirate “adventure,” I created a blog series which you can read about here.

And it doesn’t stop with pirates.

There’s the Disney wall in my office…

 

It’s no secret that I am a Disney fanatic of the first degree! I had an early start in the 60s, both from watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” and benefiting from my father, who as a Gulf gasoline dealer received many promotional tie-ins from Disney movies.

Anchored by a Disney library of over 230 books (and growing!), I am literally immersed in all things Disney. As I research and work on various projects – especially Guest Experiences – I find great inspiration through the many resources at hand. My immersion is not limited to the visual and tactile – at any given time, the soundtrack of a Disney movie, or the background music from one of Disney’s theme parks is playing in the background.

Here’s how Disney Imagineers recommend immersion into an environment:

Select a project that you want to immerse yourself in. Make a list of all the elements of the project and find samples (the larger the better) that represent these elements. Find a place in your surroundings to display the samples so you can immerse yourself in them.

For example, if you wanted to fix up a vintage car, surround yourself with large detailed pictures of its original interior and exterior, very large color samples for its seat cushions, dashboard, etc., and exterior paint job, pictures of various locations you would drive to, and of course, spray the space with new car scent.

Research leads to inspiration.


part of a series of ideas to help shape and tone your creative muscles

Inspired and adapted from The Imagineering Workout

written by The Disney Imagineers

Imagineering logo

Leaders Know How to Make Simplicity Clearer

Many leaders spend their lives driving decisions, directing resources, and deploying people without the vantage point of substantial clarity.

If clarity is so beneficial, why do we find it in short supply with most leaders? Every leader must contend with clarity gaps and complexity factors. To make matters worse, the two biggest contributors to clarity and complexity in any organization are failure and success. But all is not lost; you can lead with consistent clarity.

Being clear as a leader means being simple, understandable, and exact. The leader helps others see and understand reality better.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Why Simple Wins, by Lisa Bodell

Imagine what you could do with the time you spend writing emails every day. Complexity is killing companies’ ability to innovate and adapt, and simplicity is fast becoming the competitive advantage of our time. Why Simple Wins helps leaders and their teams move beyond the feelings of frustration and futility that come with so much unproductive work in today’s corporate world to create a corporate culture where valuable, essential, meaningful work is the norm. By learning how to eliminate redundancies, communicate with clarity, and make simplification a habit, individuals and companies can begin to recognize which activities are time-sucks and which create lasting value. Lisa Bodell’s simplification method has several unique principles: Simplification is a skill that’s available to us all, yet very few leaders use it. Simplification is the right thing to do–for our customers, for our company, and for each other. Operating with simplification as our core business model will make it easier to be respectful of each other’s time. Simplification drives culture, and culture in turn drives employee engagement, customer relations, and overall productivity.

This book is inspired by Bodell’s passion for eliminating barriers to innovation and productivity. In it, she explains why change and innovation are so hard to achieve–and it’s not what you might expect. The reality is this: we spend our days drowning in mundane tasks like meetings, emails, and reports. These are often self-created complexities that prevent us from getting to the meaningful work that truly matters. Using simple stories and techniques, Why Simple Wins shows that by using simplicity as an operating principle, we can eliminate the busy work that puts a chokehold on us every day, and instead spend time on the work that we value.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Finding clarity requires navigating a tunnel of chaos, the point where deeper confusion and complexity are experienced first, before clarity can emerge. The tunnel of chaos make take hours, days, or months and it may involve much time in prayer, conversation, questioning, reflection, confession, and challenge, all with a spirit of relentless transparency.

The resolve to navigate this tunnel of chaos cannot be overestimated. The danger lies in the fact that there are two kings of simplicity. The first is meaningless simplicity, where the leader marches in place to a simplicity that is trite and valueless. Meaningless simplicity causes many leaders to give in and copy what someone else is doing.

On the other hand, getting to the other side of complexity finds you in a place of life redefined and rereleased. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Many leaders can get stuck in between, bogged down in complexity. These leaders don’t feel stuck, because they are living with a lot of good ministry – but it is good ministry that is the enemy of the best that the church ultimately can become. 

It’s time to make simplicity clearer; and complexity too.

Something that’s properly simplified is:

As minimal as possible: Simple things reduce the number of steps, pages, features, functions, sign-offs, requirements, and other hurdles required to get something accomplished. There’s nothing extra, but at the same time, there’s enough to get the job done.

As understandable as possible: Simple things are defined by clear, straightforward language. They are comprehensible to someone who doesn’t already have expertise in the subject at hand. Simple things could easily be replicated by a novice – even if they often require some common sense.

As repeatable as possible: Simple things can be scaled or replicated. They aren’t one-offs. They aren’t customized. It should be easy for someone to do them over and over again.

As accessible as possible: Simple things are made available and transparent to as many audiences as possible. Outsiders can make use of them with as few gatekeepers as possible.

Complexity, then, is the lack of these four elements. It’s a process, product, communication, or procedure that isn’t minimal, understandable, repeatable, and accessible as possible.

Lisa Bodell, Why Simple Wins

A NEXT STEP

Albert Einstein believed that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” And therein lies the problem that many organizations face when they remove too much information in the effort to make things simpler: the remaining information becomes useless.

The trick is striking an appropriate balance between details (complexity) on one hand, and the need to simplify on the other.

To help develop that balance, follow the outline below developed by Why Simple Wins author Lisa Bodell to help make simplification happen.

  1. Awareness – the journey to simplification begins with recognizing the toll taken by complexity. To help develop this awareness, choose a ministry event or activity that you feel has become complicated. On a chart tablet, list the name of the activity with your team, and then write down items that you team can identify that cause this complication.
  2. Identification – once aware of the complexity, write down items that your team can identify that cause this complication.
  3. Prioritization – use a “time versus value” equation to evaluate the opportunities you identified in the previous step. List which complications impede your progress the most, which problems will be hardest to eliminate, and those in which you can get the most traction toward simplifying.
  4. Execution – once the opportunities are identified, execute them by moving forward in real time.
  5. Habit Formation – simplification is never finished – it has to become a part of the way you operate

Gather your team and take 10 minutes to decide on one ministry or area that needs simplification. Next, using the above filters, spend 80 minutes discussing and then commit to three simplification steps in the next 14 days. Repeat throughout each ministry or program, as needed.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 74-1, issued September 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt there.

 

> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<