What Account Do I Draw From to Pay Attention?

Last fall I had the opportunity to be a part of The Adams Family Adventure – a week-long trip to Walt Disney World for my immediate family of fifteen: six children and nine adults.

All week long I had the most fun watching the rest of the family as they experienced Walt Disney World, most for the first time. We captured that trip in over 3,000 images, whose primary purpose was to bring up stories from our memory from that single image.

As we departed four different cities on the first day of our trip, we were texting and FaceTiming about our various experiences. It was the first airplane flight for four of the grandchildren (they did great). They left their homes early in the morning, took long flights, got on a big “magical” bus, and arrived at our resort.

To our grandchildren, it must have been a little strange. From the time they came running off the bus, throughout all of the fun adventures of the week, to the goodbyes at the end of the week, they were a little overwhelmed, maybe even overstimulated about the whole process – and I began to see all over again what it means to be curious.

afa27g011817fb-1

You can, and must, regain your lost curiosity. Learn to see again with eyes undimmed by precedent.   – Gary Hamel

My grandchildren’s curiosity was brought sharply into focus when I recently read the following:

In childhood, then, attention is brightened by two features: children’s neophilia (love of new things) and the fact that, as young people, they simply haven’t seen it all before.   – Alexandra Horowitz

On LookingAlexandra Horowitz’s brilliant On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes shows us how to see the spectacle of the ordinary – to practice, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle puts it, “the observation of trifles.”

On Looking is structured around a series of eleven walks the author takes, mostly in her Manhattan neighborhood, with experts on a diverse range of subjects, including an urban sociologist, a geologist, a physician, and a sound designer. She also walks with a child and a dog to see the world as they perceive it. What they see, how they see it, and why most of us do not see the same things reveal the startling power of human attention and the cognitive aspects of what it means to be an expert observer.

Here’s an illustrative example as Horowitz walks around the block with a naturalist who informs her she has missed seeing three different groups of birds in the last few minutes of their walk:

How had I missed these birds? It had to do with how I was looking. Part of what restricts us seeing things is that we have an expectation about what we will see, and we are actually perceptually restricted by that perception. In a sense, perception is a lost cousin of attention: both serve to reduce what we need to process of the world “out there.” Attention is the more charismatic member, packaged and sold more effectively, but expectation is also a crucial part of what we see. Together they allow us to be functional, reducing the sensory chaos of the world into unbothersome and understandable units.

Attention and expectation also work together to oblige our missing things right in front of our noses. There is a term for this: inattentional blindness. It is the missing of the literal elephant in the room, despite the overturned armchairs and plate-sized footprints. 

Horowitz’s On Looking should be required reading for ChurchWorld leaders. How often do we fly past the fascinating world around us? A world, mind you, that we have been called to serve.

How can we serve a neighborhood or community or a block of our subdivision if we haven’t paid attention to it?

To a surprising extent, time spent going to and fro – walking down the street, traveling to work, heading to the store or a child’s school – is unremembered. It is forgotten not because nothing of interest happens. It is forgotten because we failed to pay attention to the journey to begin with.

Will Mancini, Founder and Team Leader of Auxano, the vision clarity-consulting group I am a part of, has written eloquently on the subject. In his book Church Unique, he introduces a principle called “The Kingdom Concept” with references to artist Andrew Wyeth:

 Most artists look for something fresh to paint; frankly, I find that quite boring. For me it is much more exciting to find fresh meaning in something familiar.   – Andrew Wyeth

Mancini goes on:

What’s particularly interesting about Wyeth is that in more than fifty years of painting he never tried to capture a landscape outside of the immediate surroundings of his home in Chadds Ford Pennsylvania, and his family’s summerhouse in Maine.

 Ponder this starling fact for a moment: This man has touched the world with an ability he never exercised outside of his own backyard! His creative mind and brilliant skill, turned loose for ten hours a day and for years on end, can be forever satisfied by radically full attention to the familiar.

 It seemed to me that he was doing something inherently visionary, and critically important for ministry leaders to do as well: his ability to observe his immediate surrounding enables him to discover and express meaning in life that other miss.

The role of today’s leaders is to clarify what is already there and help people perceive what has gone unnoticed.  These are the skills needed to lead a Church Unique.

Questions to Ponder

  • How do you observe the all-too-familiar in order to discover new meaning and discern the activity of God that others miss?
  • What do you look for?
  • How can you learn to scrutinize the obvious?
  • What does it mean to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary?
  • How can you lead your church to find exponential impact through a simple and local focus?

A good place to start is simply looking…

Understand the Four Horizons of Vision

Are you a little confused about visionary planning?

There is a difference between having a vision and having a plan. Vision is about the picture of your church’s future. A plan is about the steps to get there.

The vision answers the question, “Where is God taking us?” The plan answers the question, “What are the next best steps, and how do they relate?”

Look at vision as having four horizons.

wwr011017fb-1

THE QUICK SUMMARY – God Dreams, by Will Mancini

Is your team excited about the next big dream for your church?

You are a visionary leader and your church probably has a vision statement. Yet most churches are stuck in a trap of generic communication without a truly visionary plan. Just like a visionary restaurant needs a more specific focus than “serving food,” a visionary church needs something more than biblical generalizations like “loving God, loving people” or “making disciples and serving the world.”

When a team doesn’t share an understanding of God’s next big dream, leadership grows tired, overworked by an “all things to all people” ministry approach. Too often there’s no unified picture of what success looks like. People can feel uninspired and your church’s programming can seem more optional than ever.

Ministry without clarity is insanity. Are you ready for a better way?

In this groundbreaking work, based on Will Mancini’s 15 years and over 10,000 hours of church team facilitation, God Dreams reveals a simple and powerful planning method that will bring energy and focus to your church like never before.

First, God Dreams shows how to reclaim the role of long-range vision today by providing 12 vision templates, each with biblical, historical, and contemporary illustrations. These vision starters will dramatically accelerate your team’s ability to find complete agreement regarding your church’s future.

Second, God Dreams explains how to overcome the fruitless planning efforts that many church teams experience. With a tool called the Horizon Storyline, leaders can connect short-term action steps with the long-range dream, while leveraging the power of storytelling to make the plan “stick.” This tool will galvanize a diverse team of ministry leaders and volunteers with unprecedented enthusiasm.

Imagine leading with a refreshed sense of freedom and confidence, with a totally new way to inspire your church. Imagine the ability to harness the energy and resources of your people toward a specific dream of gospel impact, in your church and in your lifetime.

God Dreams is your passport to leading into a better future.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Your eyes can focus on multiple horizons. As you are reading this, look up and notice what is in your midground – a desk and chairs, other people?

Now look to the background and note what you see. A window to look through or a bookshelf?

The document itself and your arms and hands are in your foreground.

Without moving your head, experience the ability to focus in and out of these three horizons going back and forth quickly. That’s called accommodation. It’s a natural reflex that is happening subconsciously all day long. But it’s also a voluntary process. You can consciously control it whenever you want, as you probably did while trying the exercise.

What’s natural to your daily life can also be natural to your church’s organizational life. It is possible to use the three basic distances you are zooming in and out of all day long to build a visionary planning model.

In fact, the primary reason for vision in human-body functions is to guide and direct movement. The same might be said of your visionary plan: it exists to guide and direct movement for the church body as a whole.

The Horizon Storyline is a tool to develop the right amount of vision content for the right time in the future, for the entire leadership team.

The breakthrough of the Horizon Storyline is the development of a planning tool that fits human experience. It’s natural to grasp, using the way we already see, think, and communicate. What if we could forever remove the “it’s just too complicated” barrier? What if your planning tool would intuitively and immediately make sense? What if it would actually be fun to revisit over and over again?

The Horizon Storyline is defined by how we see different “horizons” in our field of vision every day. This idea is illustrated in a landscape painting, with the background far away as the eyes can see; a focal point of the piece in the midground that draws and keeps your focus; and an object in the foreground up close, right before your eyes.

To start, we just carry over the simple idea of background, midground, and foreground using those as names for three of our four planning horizons. We will simply see them as horizons, not in three-dimensional space but into the future. They are time horizons.

Here’s how it works. The near future we will define as ninety days away. That is the foreground vision. The next horizon, the midground vision, we define as one year away. And the furthest horizon we can “see” as an organization is the background vision, defined as three years away. The eyes of your church or ministry should be able to “see” this amount of time into the future.

Now that leaves one more horizon to define. This fourth horizon is just a little farther than you can clearly see. It’s just past your visible range. I call that “beyond the horizon” as a reminder that it is far away, just over the next mountain range, so to speak. I define this time frame as anywhere between five and twenty years depending on the church’s life stage and context.

Will Mancini, God Dreams

A NEXT STEP

The horizons described above are extensions of the way your eyes naturally work.

Right now think of at least one foreground, or short-term strategic horizon for your church. Something within the next 60-90 days.

Now list one big thing you hope to accomplish this year.

Finally, what is a big project, idea or task that you know will need to be tackled in the next few years of your leadership?

Rate the connectedness and continuity between these strategic initiatives. Bring the team together and ask, “What could be done to bring these three natural horizons of visionary planning into alignment?”

 


 

More energy. Greater resources. Better synergy. Would you like to have that right now at your church? Would you have guessed that the first step toward these improvements is defining your specific vision as a church?

If you don’t have a clear vision, you certainly won’t have a culture that matches. And if you don’t have a strong culture, then what are people in your church really doing?

Why are they there?

Taken from SUMS Remix 32-2, published January 2016.


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. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

It’s Up to You to Make the Brick Click

Christmas morning found the following under our tree:

legocastlefb-1

 

The story of our family fun putting it together is recounted elsewhere, but our week-long adventure reminded me of a great book on a recent success story of LEGO – and the lessons we can learn from it.

The LEGO brick is deceptively simple. By itself, it has almost no value and worse, no use. Only an engineer can appreciate the creative value of those knobs on top and the hollow tubes underneath.

LEGO brick patent drawing

Snap two or more of them together, and you’ve suddenly opened up a world of almost infinite possibilities. Google LEGO creations and be prepared to be amazed:

  • A functioning supercomputer (1,000 bricks plus electronic parts)
  • A full-size Rolls-Royce aircraft engine (152,000 bricks)
  • A detailed recreation of the 2012 London Olympics (over 250,000 bricks)
  • A life-size two-story house with working toilet and shower (3.3 million bricks)
  • A full-scale replica of the Star Wars X-Wing fighter (over 5 million bricks)

In the fifty-five years since it was patented, the LEGO brick has ignited the imaginations of millions of children and adults – and become a universal building block for catalyzing creativity.

What was the secret behind LEGO’s decades of success?

LEGO owes much of its enduring performance to a core set of founding principles that have guided the company for over eighty years:

  • Values are Priceless
  • Relentless Experimentation Begets Breakthrough Innovation
  • Not a Product but a System
  • Tighter Focus Leads to More Profitable Innovation
  • Make It Authentic
  • First the Stores, Then the Kids

Even so, at the height of its success toward the end of the 1990s, LEGO stumbled and almost became a statistic – another failed company. They began to confuse growth with success, literally selling their LEGO systems around the world. Unfortunately, the company’s rapid globalization was not accompanied by sufficient innovation. Technological advances also began to change the nature of play – VCRs, video games, cable TV, computers, the Internet, which claimed an increasingly larger share of the core market of LEGO – children.

Determined to rebound from successive years of loss, the executive team embarked on an ambitious initiative for reigniting growth. The effort was oriented around some of the world’s most popular strategies for developing new products and services.

Seven Innovation Strategies

  • Hire diverse and creative people
  • Head for blue ocean markets
  • Be customer driven
  • Practice disruptive innovation
  • Foster open innovation – heed the wisdom of the crowd
  • Explore the full spectrum of innovation
  • Build an innovation culture

LEGO heeded the proclamations of management strategists and adopted the seven truths of innovation – all of them. For a time, the strategy worked. For a company that was struggling to catch up with a world that was passing it by, there was in inherent logic in the LEGO Group’s pursuit of the seven truths.

But LEGO had placed a lot of big bets in just a few short years. The company was trying to expand on so many fronts it was in danger of losing its focus and discipline. Individually, the seven truths have worked for other companies. Collectively, they almost pushed LEGO into bankruptcy.

The most difficult challenge in business is not to invent an innovative product; it’s to build an organization that can continually create innovative products. It took LEGO seven years and played out in five stages.

The result? LEGO emerged from its near-death experience as the world’s most profitable and fastest-growing company. From 2007 to 2011 through the worst of the global recession, LEGO profits quadrupled, far exceeding the giants of the toy industry, Mattel and Hasbro. From 2008 to 2010, LEGO profits grew faster than Apple, despite competing in an industry with few entry barriers aggressive competition, fickle customers and no patent protection on its core product – the LEGO brick.

LEGO achieved those results not by breaking with business convention but by building within it.

They operated “inside the box”.

Excerpted and adapted from Brick by Brick, by David Robertson with Bill Breen

Brick by Brick

Brick by Brick is the story behind that seven year journey to success. Sometimes radical, but always applicable, Brick by Brick contains real-world lessons for unleashing breakthrough innovation in your organization.

The excerpts above have barely scratched the surface of the wisdom contained in Brick by Brick. Leaders in organizations of all sizes, profit or non-profit, will benefit from the lessons it contains. It digs into the LEGO Group’s practical approach to everyday innovation and shows how your organization can do the same.

It’s about LEGO’s reinvention of innovation – making continuous innovation less of an abnormality and more of the new normal.

A warning – like every LEGO set, Brick by Brick‘s principles require you to bring your own imagination and experience to the game to figure out what’s best for you and your organization.

It’s up to you to make the bricks click.

Learn to Think Beyond “Right Now”

Imagine that the role of vision in your church is like an axe.

When skillfully used, it makes a path clear. It removes obstacles. It broadens the path for others to follow. It enable greater accomplishment.

Most pastors regularly pick up the axe of vision in their ministry. Some quickly set it back down, having never been trained in its effective use. Others swing like crazy, unaware that they wield a dull edge. Too often they become frustrated or confused by too little return for their tireless work.

One way to sharpen the axe of vision is by thinking beyond “right now.”

wwr010417fb-2

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – God Dreams, by Will Mancini

Is your team excited about the next big dream for your church?

You are a visionary leader and your church probably has a vision statement. Yet most churches are stuck in a trap of generic communication without a truly visionary plan. Just like a visionary restaurant needs a more specific focus than “serving food,” a visionary church needs something more than biblical generalizations like “loving God, loving people” or “making disciples and serving the world.”

When a team doesn’t share an understanding of God’s next big dream, leadership grows tired, overworked by an “all things to all people” ministry approach. Too often there’s no unified picture of what success looks like. People can feel uninspired and your church’s programming can seem more optional than ever.

Ministry without clarity is insanity. Are you ready for a better way?

In this groundbreaking work, based on Will Mancini’s 15 years and over 10,000 hours of church team facilitation, God Dreams reveals a simple and powerful planning method that will bring energy and focus to your church like never before.

First, God Dreams shows how to reclaim the role of long-range vision today by providing 12 vision templates, each with biblical, historical, and contemporary illustrations. These vision starters will dramatically accelerate your team’s ability to find complete agreement regarding your church’s future.

Second, God Dreams explains how to overcome the fruitless planning efforts that many church teams experience. With a tool called the Horizon Storyline, leaders can connect short-term action steps with the long-range dream, while leveraging the power of storytelling to make the plan “stick.” This tool will galvanize a diverse team of ministry leaders and volunteers with unprecedented enthusiasm.

Imagine leading with a refreshed sense of freedom and confidence, with a totally new way to inspire your church. Imagine the ability to harness the energy and resources of your people toward a specific dream of gospel impact, in your church and in your lifetime.

God Dreams is your passport to leading into a better future.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

For more than a few reasons, the practice of long-term thinking is hard to come by these days. Steward Brand, who is working on an interesting project called the 10,000-year clock project writes:

Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next election perspective of democracies or the distractions of personal multitasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective is needed.

This “think long” clock is consistent with God’s view of time.

God chooses to reveal Himself through redemptive history. Time is His canvas. This simple fact by itself challenges us to think about the future in epic chunks of time.

It’s time to trade an obsession with now for a mind-set that values thinking long, beginning with the discovery of twelve compelling benefits in the value of thinking long.

thinklong

Will Mancini, God Dreams

A NEXT STEP

Review the twelve compelling reasons to think long above, and note that they are grouped into three broad categories. We think long first because the Bible challenges us to do so, second because practical considerations invite us to do so, and third because it’s a key for unlocking the motivation of people.

To broaden this discussion with your team, reproduce the chart above with each of the three categories and their reasons on a single chart tablet sheet. Using these three sheets, discuss each of the 12 in terms of how you and your church can begin to think long.

Do you really want to inspire people? Don’t flood your church with more programs and events. Rather, blow their minds with new context. Give them something that blows up the smaller stories of the now. Disrupt the casual week-to-week worship routine with a real, visible, and dramatic picture of the specific difference your church will make 10 years from now. Give people something epic!

If you think long, you are more likely to dream big and attempt great.


Life is too short and ministry is too hard to swing all day with a blunt-edged vision.

 

Taken from SUMS Remix 31-3, published January 2016.


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. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

Unlock the Imagination of Your Audience by Using a Map

To help others see change, the leader must understand how to unlock the imagination.

The very act of imagination is connected to faith. The author of Hebrews writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). When a leader articulates, or provokes, a follower’s imagination, he or she is serving both God and the individual by exercising the muscle of faith.

Unlock the imagination of your audience by using a map.

wwr122116fb1

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Communicate to Influence by Ben Decker

Business communication is annoying. At each meeting and presentation, we are inundated with information, leaving us thirsting for inspiration. Sure, we will check off an action item because we have to . . . but what if we were actually inspired to do something? What if we were so moved that we wanted to do it?

Leaders must earn the license to lead. Not by expertise, authority, or title alone, but by influence. In Communicate to Influence, you will learn the secrets of the Decker Method―a framework that has been perfected over the past 36 years. Ben and Kelly Decker add fresh insights to these proven principles so that you can ignite change and inspire action. Discover:

  • The Five White Lies of Communicating: learn which barriers prevent you from getting better
  • The Communicator’s Roadmap: use a tool to visually chart what type of communication experience you create
  • The Behaviors of Trust: align what you say with how you say it to better connect with your audience
  • The Decker Grid: shift your message from self-centered, all about me content to relevant, audience-centered content that drives action

You are called to communicate well. Not only on the main stage, under bright lights, but every time you speak with your colleagues, your clients, and other stakeholders. It’s time to learn how. Stop informing. Start inspiring. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

When you inspire people, it is much easier to persuade them to buy into your vision and goals. In fact, they will move from a position of “have to” to “want to.”

How do we create an ideal communication experience for our audience? We begin by understanding what experience we are creating as communicators and by becoming focused and intentional about that experience. We need a navigational tool to help us get where we want to be. We must treat every communication situation like a new location, and input the destination of where we want to go. We need the Communicator’s Roadmap.

communicatorroadmapdecker

 

The vertical axis graphs our emotional connection with our audience. The emotional connections are what determine whether or not people like us, trust us, and want to follow. If there is emotional distance our audience will be disinterested or disengaged. At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you were emotionally connected to the speakers, you like them, trusted them, related to them, wanted to be around them, or at lease wanted to keep listening to them.

The horizontal axis represents our content, the actual message that we deliver. Are you distributing information, or are you driving action? The left side of the axis is reserved for information sharing. If the content is totally focused on your agenda, your ideas, and your goals, you have self-centered content.

The more you are able to focus your content and make it audience-centered, serving the wants, needs, desires, goals, and priorities of the audience, the more you shift the experience to the right side of the horizontal axis. The right side of this axis is action-oriented, and it is the part of the Communicator’s Roadmap from which influence flows.

Audience-centered content transforms the whole experience. You’ll influence the people in your audience and motivate them to action – and action is what communication is all about.

Ben Decker and Kelly Decker, Communicate to Influence

A NEXT STEP

The quadrants depicted and described above represent the types of experiences you need to create, not the type of communicator you always are. The descriptions should serve as reference points as you prepare for your next presentation.

Each key communication situation in your role as a leader needs a definition, so map it. Be intentional about the kind of experience you want to create and be intentional about where you’re going.

To help you become more comfortable with the map depicted above, practice the following exercises:

  1. A communicator’s highest goal should be to inspire (upper right quadrant). Think about a recent presentation or sermon you delivered.
    1. What quadrant did it start in (if not Inspire)?
    2. What kinds of actions could you take to move it toward the Inspire quadrant?
  2. Over the next week, observe people in various communication settings. Notice where they fall on the map. As a listener, how are you impacted by where they are on the map?
  3. The next time you dine out, don’t just focus on the food but think about the whole experience. How did the whole experience add to (or take away) from your meal? When you are preparing your next presentation, use your dining experience feelings to help you focus your total presentation experience.
  4. The next time you are at an event with multiple speakers, create a map of each of them, noting which quadrant they started in and where they finished. What stood out about the journey? Which speakers inspired you the most? What lessons can you apply to your own speaking journey?

Closing Thoughts

As leaders, we communicate in all we say and do. We may be entertaining at times, we inform much of the time, and occasionally we must be directing in what we say. But in all situations, we can inspire and connect with our audience.

It’s not what the leader thinks can be or even should be, but what must be.

Taken from SUMS Remix 29-3, published December 2015.


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. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

Is “Reading” 286 Books in a Year a Sign of Addiction?

One of my greatest passions is reading. I developed this passion at an early age, and have continued to strengthen it over the years. In addition to being my passion, reading is also an important part of my role as Vision Room Curator at Auxano. In that role, I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix every two weeks. SUMS Remix is a modified book summary in which I develop a solution to a common problem faced by church leaders from 3 different books. So, preparing SUMS Remix in 2016 alone means I have gone through dozens of leadership and organization development books to arrive at the 78 used in producing 26 issues this year.

Other parts of my role required reading current trends books, used for social media posting and content writing.

Then there’s my passion area of Guest Experience, in which I am constantly researching customer service books for application for churches.

And, as many readers know, I am a Disney Fanatic – which extends to building a Disney library, currently 139 volumes and growing!

Finally, there’s just the pure pleasure of reading – an almost nightly hour or two in the late evening reading a wide range of books, both brand new and classics, fiction and nonfiction.

Add those 5 categories all together, and in 2016 I have “read” 286 books. 

reading2016-1

First, a disclaimer: I did not read all 286 cover to cover. With such an immense (and pleasurable) task in front of me, I have to resort to some method of finding out what an author is trying to say without reading the whole book.

Here’s how I did it – and, of course it starts with a book!

How to Read a Book

Literally – that’s the name of a classic book by Mortimer Adler.  The first lesson of reading is to learn that you don’t need to “read” each book the same way. Here are Adler’s 4 levels of reading:

  • Elementary Reading – What does the book say?
  • Inspectional Reading – What is the book about?
  • Analytical Reading – What does the book mean?
  • Syntopical Reading – What does a comparison of books on the subject reveal?

Some books are only meant to be read at the first level; others are meant to be digested at some of the other levels. Know which is which!

To get the most out of a book in the least amount of time, try this strategy:

  • Read the title.
  • Read the introduction
  • Read the Table of Contents
  • Flip through the material, scanning the chapter titles and subheadings. Note the words that stand out as bold, different colors, underlined, or italicized.
  • Examine the illustrations, captions, charts and diagrams. Read the pull-quotes and sidebars.
  • Scan through the index looking for buzz words that interest you.
  • Read the first chapter.
  • Flip through the book and read the first sentence of each paragraph in each chapter. In a well written and edited book, the most important sentence containing the topic is usually the first sentence of the paragraph — but not always.
  • Read the last chapter. If there is an executive summary, read it.
  • Read any other information on the cover or dust jacket.

If the book captures your attention after doing the above tasks, then by all means dive right in!

The converse is true: if a book doesn’t capture your attention after a few attempts, stop reading it. Pick out another one on the topic – there are always more waiting for you!

With that caveat in mind, my “cover-to-cover” reading for 2016 was 157 books.

reading2016-4

While the knowledge gained from reading is important, the real benefit is from the habit of reading. When you are continually reading, you condition your mind to keep taking in new knowledge. Your thinking remains fresh and sharp. Your brain is always churning on new ideas, looking for new connections it can make. Every day you pour in more ideas, which your brain must find a way to integrate into your existing knowledge base. Frequent reading fires up your neural activity, even during the periods when you aren’t reading.

Reading is a gift that you can unselfishly give yourself, one that truly keeps on giving. Why don’t you bless yourself and those around you by reading a new book in the first weeks of 2017, and sharing its wisdom with others?

Me? Well, I’ve got four books lined up for delivery by Amazon the first week of January, and another two on reserve at the library.

Communicate Your Vision Visually Using a Brand Toolbox

With so many messages competing for people’s attention, how can you most effectively tell your church’s story?

Every day, your church stewards thousands of moments of truth. Every time a member talks to a neighbor, someone drives by the church facility, a ministry email goes out, a pastor’s business card is left on a desk, some interaction on behalf of the church has transpired. Every time these events happen, the church’s vision grows brighter or dims in the tiniest little increments.

The leader’s role is to crank up the wattage.

wwr121416fb-1

Solution: Communicate vision visually using a brand toolbox

THE QUICK SUMMARY – What Great Brands Do, by Denise Lee Yohn

It’s tempting to believe that brands like Apple, Nike, and Zappos achieved their iconic statuses because of serendipity, an unattainable magic formula, or even the genius of a single visionary leader. However, these companies all adopted specific approaches and principles that transformed their ordinary brands into industry leaders. In other words, great brands can be built–and Denise Lee Yohn knows exactly how to do it.

Delivering a fresh perspective, Yohn’s What Great Brands Do teaches an innovative brand-as-business strategy that enhances brand identity while boosting profit margins, improving company culture, and creating stronger stakeholder relationships. Drawing from 25 years of consulting work with such top brands as Frito-Lay, Sony, Nautica, and Burger King, Yohn explains key principles of her brand-as-business strategy.

Filled with targeted guidance for CEOs, COOs, entrepreneurs, and other organization leaders, What Great Brands Do is an essential blueprint for launching any brand to meteoric heights.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Spotting an exceptional brand is easy, but building an exceptional brand can be one of the most challenging and elusive tasks organizations face. This task is even more difficult for churches, where “brand” is often seen as a four-letter word.

At its most simple form, though, a brand is really the personality of an organization, and it should guide every action of the organization. Your corporate culture is your brand’s foundation.

Unless and until your culture is expressed clearly through your customer experience, you have nothing worth communicating. Your brand can’t just be a promise; it must be a promise delivered. So your starting point is cultivating a strong internal corporate culture that aligns and integrates with your brand.

Great brands use culture branding to educate – to help employees understand what a brand is and why it’s important. They use it to define – to explain what the brand stands for and how it is differentiating. They use it to activate – to help people understand their own impact on brand perceptions and therefore what is expected of them.

The challenge then becomes what I often call the “head + heart + hands and feet” problem. For your employees to understand, embrace, and deliver your brand, they need to know its values in their heads, feel inspired by them in their hearts, and then put them into action with their hands and feet.

Operationalizing your brand through organizational culture requires a focus on design, empowerment, and impact. You want to design the organization and its business model so it delivers on the brand values and attributes. You want to empower your people with the tools and resources to infuse the brand into their day-to-day decisions and behaviors. Finally, you want to make such a positive impact on your employees’ lives and their careers that they support your brand’s message and mission because they know their own destinies and your brand’s destiny are intertwined.

I often work with clients to build a “Brand Toolbox” of content and decision guides to drive the approaches and behaviors needed to operationalize their brand values. The Brand Toolbox informs managers and employees by communicating what the brand platform is and by providing principles to guide brand execution. It also inspires people with images, stories, and quotes. It gets them excited about the brand and motivates them to change their behavior in support of it.

Denise Lee Yohn, What Great Brands Do

A NEXT STEP

Your brand is much more than a marketing tool. It must be a guiding compass for your organization and strategy.

We have all heard the expression that having the right tools makes the job easier. Providing your church with the right tools is no different. With a well-developed Brand Toolbox you will empower leaders, build culture, and guide daily decision-making.

Your brand is not simply a logo or a great looking brochure. Your brand is a verb. It is action; it is every experience people have with your organization – your church – every day through everything you say and do. It is your culture, your ethos. It is every touch-point. It is about building a relationship and making an emotional connection with people in your church and with people outside your church.

To build a strong brand you must first Start Inside with a clear understanding of your church’s identity and a strategy that aligns all communication. This is essential for executing your brand through a “focus on design, empowerment, and impact.”

Your Brand Toolbox is freeing and will help you simplify your communication.

How complete is your Brand Toolbox?

How far along are you in giving your team the tools necessary for building culture? Determine which number describes how complete your toolbox is:

  1. We have an empty toolbox.
  2. We have an explanation of our brand strategy along with the background and rationale so that everyone can understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, and definitions of key terms so everyone grasps the meaning behind the words.
  3. We have principles and guidelines for delivering brand values and attributes at key touchpoints between our brand and the outside world.
  4. We have sample applications for how the brand should be expressed and delivered.
  5. We have guides that walk people through important decisions, along with outlines that map processes so that people lean how to do things on brand.

If you are not satisfied with your Brand Toolbox, make an action plan for taking your toolbox to the next level of completion. Remember, Starting Inside is about execution and integrating your identity into your culture. The Toolbox must be shared and accessible as part of your leadership development at every level.

If you would like information on developing a Brand Toolbox, connect with Auxano’s design team.


Closing Thoughts

With the Gospel at the center of everything we do, the church, by its nature, is a message-centric organization. Jesus, the greatest story-teller of all time knew, before science showed us, that people are simply hard-wired to respond to story and images. And today’s world is becoming ever-increasingly visual, with selfies, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Consider this: there are hundreds of little moments of truth – touchpoints of connectivity – that happen each day.

Each of these are opportunities to share the message of the gospel. Are you going to make them or miss them?

Just by being more intentional with your brand, you really can capture more “makes” than “misses.”

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 26-1, October, 2015


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. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.