To Help Solve Problems, Practice a Six-Step Design Thinking Process

According to the authors of Solving Problems with Design Thinking, most leaders harbor a deep, dark secret: They believe in their hearts that they are not creative, and find themselves short on delivering innovation ideas to their organizations.

In today’s seemingly rampant innovation mania, managers and leaders cannot appear unimaginative, let alone fail to come up with brilliant solutions to vexing problems on a whim.

For most of us there will be no Moses-like parting of the waters of the status quo  that we might safely cross the Red Sea of innovation. Drowning is more likely our fate.  

– from Solving Design Problems

There is hope.

Instead of trying to part the waters, leaders need to build a bridge to take us from the current reality to a new future.

In other words, we must manufacture our own miracles.

The technology for better bridge building already exists, right under our noses. It’s called design thinking.

This approach to problem solving is distinguished by the following attributes:

  • It emphasizes the importance of discovery in advance of solution generation using market research approaches that are empathetic and user driven
  • It expands the boundaries of both our problem definition and our solutions
  • It is enthusiastic about engaging partners in co-creation
  • It is committed to conducting real-world experiments rather than just running analyses using historical data

And it works.

Design thinking is capable of reliably producing new and better ways of creatively solving a host of organizational problems.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Design for Strengths by John K. Coyle

Are you on the cusp of greatness? Do you have untapped potential and talents just waiting to be released? Read this book to learn the same creative problem-solving methodology (Design Thinking) used extensively at Stanford, Google, IDEO, and Apple. This guide will unlock your personal potential, and that of your team and your business.

By exploring the intersection of Design Thinking and strengths-finding, innovation expert John K. Coyle demonstrates what most high achievers intuitively know-that each one of us possesses a unique combination of strengths, talents, skills and capabilities to achieve breakthrough performance-but may need a code to unlock them.

Design for Strengths delivers the process, tools and mindsets required to find and maximize your hidden potential. Illuminated by a captivating narrative of Olympic training and competition, Coyle demonstrates how he used the Design Thinking process and mindset to hack the sport of speed skating and win an Olympic silver medal. This book contains real-life examples of how individuals and organizations can use Design Thinking to define the right problem, and to ask and answer a better question. Instead of “how do I fix my weaknesses?” ask, “how can I design for my strengths?”

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Design is all about action, and churches too often get stuck at the talking stage.

Face it – despite all our planning and analyzing and controlling, the typical church’s track record at translating its rhetoric into results is not impressive.

In the business world, researchers estimate that only somewhere between 10% and 60% of the promised returns for new strategies are actually delivered. Having been around ChurchWorld for over 38 years, my observation is the reality would be between 10% and 30% – tops.

Practices that consume enormous amounts of time and attention produce discouraging results. All the empty talk is making it harder and harder to get anything to actually happen. Churches expect the staff to be member-focused while the majority watches. When a staff or volunteer actually takes a risk, they are punished if it doesn’t succeed. Ambitious growth goals aren’t worth the spreadsheets they are computed on.

Getting new results requires new tools – and design thinking has real tools to help move from talk to action.

Design thinking is a simple framework and process to guide creative problem solving – a way to leverage the designer’s mindset to “solve old problems” in new ways.

Here are quick snapshots of each of the six Design Thinking steps.

Accept: Like so many problem-solving methodologies, the first step in the Design Thinking process is to admit there is a problem. Corollary to this is the idea that you don’t want to accept or work on problems that are completely intractable. There is a fine line between giving up too early and taking on the impossible.

Define: Often the “obvious” fix to a problem is the wrong one. The define stage is all about framing and reframing the problem in meaningful and solvable ways.

Empathize: This is perhaps the most important element of Design Thinking and probably also the hardest. Empathy doesn’t mean sympathy or agreeing with a particular viewpoint. Empathy means being able to shift your own thinking to emulate the thought patterns of someone else, to understand why something can make sense to someone possessing a particular mindset in a particular context.

Ideate: Probably the simplest step in Design Thinking – and yet the one with a methodology most quickly abandoned. Generating ideas without judgment is vastly superior to the simultaneous divergent/convergent process that almost every meeting in the world manages to evoke.

Prototype: Critical to this step is a “learn-by-doing” action bias and mindset. It is less about feedback and much more about the willingness to produce a less-than-perfect artifact or process that we could learn from.

Test: This phase is a decision point; either A) we have confidence to launch through quantitative data, or B) we need to return to Define, Empathy, or Prototype to tweak our problem statement, understanding, or approach. In this phase, you take a prototype – a new way of doing something – and try it in “real life.”

John K. Coyle, Design for Strengths

A NEXT STEP

It may be simplistic, but when it comes to problem solving, there are basically two kinds of problems: the simple and the complex. Simple problems really aren’t “simple” – it’s just that their solutions are often obvious, and require specific types of action to solve. Think of building a house – it’s a complicated process, but the “solutions” have been honed and refined over hundreds of years until they become somewhat formulaic.

On the other hands, complex problems do not have easy answers, and may even appear to be unsolvable at first glance. Reframing stubborn and complex challenges as design problems allows new ideas and solutions to emerge.

With this in mind, schedule a team meeting to tackle a complex problem that either exists or you see on the horizon.

On the top of six chart tablets, write the key word for each of the steps listed above. Copy and distribute this SUMS Remix to use as a guide for your team in discussing and listing actions that correspond to the six steps.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 111-1, released January 2019


 

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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

The Power of Brand Perception

Your BRAND is the perception of your organization that lives in the minds of your audiences.

Every interaction your audience has with your church or organization forms thoughts, feelings, and perceptions in their minds. In this understanding of a BRAND, everything speaks—business cards, website, words and posture, interaction with volunteers and staff. All of these things contribute to your audience’s perception of you.

With a strong brand, you communicate effectively and consistently across all communication channels.

The branding process is one way to fully leverage the hard work of getting clear about your vision, seeing it come to life in all of your communication.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Branding Faith by Phil Cooke

Have you hit a wall with your church, ministry or non-profit organization? In spite of a genuine calling, an exceptional team and solid investment in the vision, have you noticed that the spark never catches fire? Media and marketing expert Phil Cooke wants every ministry to ask, “Who are we?”

By identifying what makes your organization different from the thousands clamoring for attention, you can get your message heard. Cooke has consulted with many of the most recognized churches and non-profits in the world, and in Branding Faith: Why Some Ministries Impact Culture and Others Don’t, he shares his road-tested strategies for using media and marketing to make your mark on people’s minds and hearts. Whatever the size of your organization, his helpful hints and insider know-how will give you the tools to set your ministry’s strategies ablaze.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – The Power of Brand Perception

The brand is what people think about your church. Your brand is what people think about your church, the expectation, the idea, they have. It’s not what you have. It’s what they have.

Branding, at its heart, is about making an emotional connection. If it’s what people think, we want to make that emotional connection there. People fall in love with brands. They trust them.

Brand is how people feel about us. There’s that emotional connection that’s built there.

Auxano Navigator Bryan Rose shares two two ways to think about your brand: “There are actually two brands, the big “B” brand, and the small “b” brand. Let’s define the two. The big “B” brand represents the impression that your church leaves in someone’s mind as a result of a total experience with the ministry. Brand is every interaction that occurs on behalf of the church. Person to person, environments, culture, the worship experience, social media presence, the posts, and their responses.”

All of those things come together as the big “B” brand. So, your church’s brand, the big “B” brand, lives in someone’s mind, lives in the people’s mind, and it’s a result of all these experiences. 

The key to effective branding is that a successful brand isn’t what you say it is; it’s what they say it is.

Telling an effective story about your church, ministry, project, or even yourself begins with understanding the power of perception. In a media-driven culture, perception can be even more important than reality because, with the advent of technology, word travels fast.

Whether it’s a simple email message that is continually forwarded exponentially to everyone in your address book, a viral video that’s distributed through the Web, or the convenience of cell phones, in the digital age, it’s tough to keep a lid on bad news.

The influence of the mass media in our culture is changing everything, and “perception” is the language spoken by modern media. In a world when sound bites heavily influence the political process, the unique characteristics of mass media now affect every aspect of our lives.

It’s not about facts; it’s about perception.

In today’s media-saturated culture, who you are becomes less important that how you’re perceived. When researchers study the process of communication, they realize that the message being sent is not always the message being received. For a variety of reasons, few communicated messages actually arrive with the same intentions, information, and impact.

The art of perception can be also be used to promote positive projects, people, values, or ideas. In spite of its abuse, the power of perception can be utilized for good if we know how to activate it in our lives. The way to do that is to consider your audience before crafting your message.

Phil Cooke, Branding Faith

A NEXT STEP

Because it’s not the message you send, it’s the message that’s received that counts.

As author Phil Cooke states, “It doesn’t matter how brilliant your sermons are; if your attention is misunderstood by the listener, then you’ve failed to communicate.”

He recommends that leaders start at the receiving end first to make sure your message has the best chance of being received properly.

In other words, don’t begin with your message; begin with your audience.

In advance of your next speaking opportunity, consider using questions like the following to help understand your audience:

  • Who is my audience? You have to think like an audience member – what would they want to receive from a speaker?
  • What are their stakes? Do you know why they are present? Chances are the outcome that they are looking for is not connected to your goals.
  • How can you repackage your presentation? Without changing your core message, what can you revise in order to align with your audience’s needs?
  • How can you redefine the expectations of your audience to meet yours?
  • What language and visual style is your audience expecting?
  • Why is your core message interesting for your audience?
  • What is the best medium for your core message to come through? Are you better off talking without visual aids, or are they appropriate?
  • What “gifts” can you give to impact your audience? Your presentation happens, and then? A strong core message may be remembered, but wouldn’t it be better if your audience changed their behavior by integrating some of the knowledge and ideas from your presentation in their daily lives?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 109-1, released January 2019.


 

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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

The Secret to My Deliberate Practice of Reading

Part Three of my “Reading Week” at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020


During my elementary school years one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of “The Weekly Reader,” a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.

It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.

Regular reading of both books and magazines remains a part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for writing and publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders.

SUMS Remix is beginning its eighth year – the first two years contained a single book in each issue; the last five years include three books in each issue. If I’ve done my math correctly, that’s 453 books covered in 186 issues since the fall of 2012.

I do like to read!

I’ve recently referenced the “Four Levels of Reading” from a book by Mortimer J. Adler, and how critical they are to my deliberate practice of reading. To help understand, I’m going to illustrate some of the books I’ve read during 2019 by those four levels.

In the process, to close out this “reading week,” I’m taking you back to the very first SUMS book summary…

… because there’s no better place to start than “How to Read a Book.”


You have a mind. Now let us suppose that you also have a book that you want to read. The book consists of language written by someone for the sake of communicating. Your success in reading it is determined by the extent to which you receive everything the writer intended to communicate. – Mortimer J. Adler

 

sums-1-howtoreadabookMortimer J. Adler was an American author, educator, and philosopher who championed the repopularization of the Great Books and Great Ideas curriculum of study. A prolific scholar, he was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It’s very fitting then, that one of his best-known works is How to Read a Book.

The art of reading is the process whereby a mind, with nothing to operate on but the symbols of the readable matter, and with no help from the outside, elevates itself by the power of its own operations.

 

The Levels of Reading

There are four levels of reading – so called because they are cumulative in that each level includes all the others, and you can’t progress to a higher level without mastering the levels that come before. They four levels are:

  • Elementary
  • Inspectional
  • Analytical
  • Syntopical

1 – Elementary Reading – What does the book say?

In mastering this level, one learns the rudiments of the art of reading, receives basic training in reading, and acquires reading skills. Our first encounter at reading is at this level; sadly, many people never progress beyond this level.

At this level of reading, the question asked of the reader is “What does the sentence say?” While that could be conceived as a complex question, in this setting take it at its simplest sense.

The attainment of the skills of elementary reading occurred some time ago for almost everyone reading this summary. Nevertheless, we continue to experience the problems of this level of reading, no matter how capable we may be as readers.

Many readers continue to have various kinds of difficulties reading at this level. Most of the difficulties are mechanical, and can be traced back to early instruction in reading. Overcoming these difficulties usually allows us to read faster.

There are four basic stages of Elementary Reading:

  1. Reading readiness’ (early physical development)
  2. Simple reading (small vocabulary; simple skills)
  3. Expanded reading (large vocabulary; diverse subjects; enjoyment)
  4. Refined reading (understand concepts; compare different views)

Almost all of the books I get on a weekly basis from my local library are Elementary Reading. Sometimes, they intrigue me enough that I will acquire my own copy for deeper reading, but for the most part, just the pure pleasure of reading is enough.

2 – Inspectional Reading – What is the book about?

The focus of reading at this level is to get the most out of a book with in a given amount of time. When reading at this level, your aim is to examine the surface of the book, to learn everything that the surface alone can teach you – which is often a good deal.

Techniques for Inspectional Reading of a book include:

  1. Systematic skimming or pre-reading
  2. Look at the title page and preface: try to pigeonhole type of book
  3. Study table of contents: look for structure/road map for trip
  4. Check index: estimate range of terms and topics; look up some passages that seem crucial
  5. Check the dust jacket: read the publisher’s blurb
  6. Look for chapters which seem most pivotal: read opening and/or
 closing passages/pages carefully
  7. Thumb through entire book, reading a few paragraphs and/or pages
 here and there, esp. at the end, looking for the main argument(s)

Some books, whether from the library, or perusing the shelves at a bookstore, by prior experience with the author, or from a recommendation from a friend, require deeper reading – if even for only a short while.

 

3 – Analytical Reading – What does the book mean?

The third level of reading, analytical reading, is both a more complex and a more systematic activity than either of the previous two levels of reading. Analytical reading is thorough reading, complete reading, or good reading – the best you can do. The analytical reader must ask many organized questions of what he is reading.

Analytical reading is hardly ever necessary if your goal in reading is simply information or entertainment. Analytical reading is preeminently for the sake of understanding. Moving your mind from a condition of understanding less to a condition of understanding more with the aid of a book is almost impossible unless you have at least some skill in analytical reading.

Techniques for Analytical Reading include:

  1. Underlining key sentences
  2. Vertical lines to mark key sections
  3. Marginal doodads like asterisks and stars
  4. Numbers of other pages in the margin
  5. Circling key words or phrases
  6. Writing in margins, or top and bottom
  7. Structural notes – about the content of the subject
  8. Conceptual notes – about the truth and significance
  9. Dialectical notes – about the shape of the argument in the larger discussion of other people’s ideas

Many of my books are specifically acquired with the purpose of having a conversation with the author – through the process outlined above. These are for specific projects, deeper levels of interest, or candidates for the fourth level of reading. Here is part of my bookshelves in a large area of analytical reading – customer experience, to be “translated” into the area of Guest Experiences.

4 – Syntopical Reading – How does this book compare with other books?

The fourth and highest level of reading is the most complex and systematic type of reading. It makes very heavy demands on the reader, even if the materials themselves are relatively easy and unsophisticated.

Another name for this level of reading may be called comparative reading. The reader is reading many books, not just one, and places them in relation to one another and to a subject about which they all revolve. Mere comparison of texts is not enough: syntopical reading involves more. With the help of the books being read, the syntopical reader is able to construct an analysis of the subject that may not be in any of the books. Syntopical reading is the most active and effortful kind of reading.

Techniques in Syntopical Reading include:

  1. Find the relevant passages
  2. Establish a common terminology
  3. Clarify the questions
  4. Define the issues
  5. Analyze the discussion and look for the truth

The final level of reading, Syntopical Reading, I break down into two categories. The first is best illustrated by SUMS Remix. After developing a problem statement, I research and read books that will provide a solution to that problem. I am searching for the “best” three for each issue – “best” being defined in some combination of recent publication, unique solutions, or something that is worth considering but comes from left field. The timeframe for this type of syntopical reading is very compressed. With a biweekly publication schedule, the research, reading, first drafts, reviews, initial design, final design, and shipping mean that at any given time, twelve books are in the pipeline for inclusion in a SUMS Remix.

The other category of Syntopical Reading I use is for longer-term projects, in which I am continually researching for both current application and future use. An example is shown below: First Place Hospitality. Other examples I could use would be a specific part of Guest Experiences, like the Journey Map; or, maybe ongoing research into the life of Walt Disney, viewed from early accounts from the 1930s-40s, as well as more recent efforts.

That’s it – the Four Levels of Reading illustrated above are the secret to my deliberate practice of reading.

Reading and the Growth of the Mind

Active reading is the asking of questions and looking for answers. Good books stretch our minds, improve our reading
 skills, and teach us about the world and ourselves. Good books make demands on us.

But there is a world beyond good books – that of great books. Good books need have no more than one meaning and one reading
. Great books, on the other hand, have many meanings and need to be read over and over again.

The test of a great book:

  1. If you were marooned on a desert island, which ten books would you select?
  2. Does the book seem to grow with you?
  3. Do you see new things every time
 you re-read it?
  4. Is the book is able to lift you over and over again?

Seek out the few books that have these values for you.

Reading well, which means reading actively, is not only good in itself, nor is it merely a means to advancement in our work or career. Reading keeps our minds alive and growing. – Mortimer J. Adler

 


 

> Part One of my “Reading Week” at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020

> Part Two of my “Reading Week” at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020

 


 

Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix from the past year and publishing an excerpt.

If you like those, you will probably be interested in current and/or past issues.

>> Purchase a current subscription to SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

You Can’t Read All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning

Part One of my “Reading Week” at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020


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 excerpt in which I develop a solution to a common problem faced by church leaders from 3 different books. So, preparing SUMS Remix in 2019 alone means I have gone through over 100 leadership and organization development books to arrive at the 76 used in producing 26 issues this year.

Other parts of my role requires 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. I’m building The Essential Guest Experience Library.

And, as many readers know, I am a Disney Fanatic – which extends to building a Disney library, currently over 405 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 by the end of 2019 I will have added 268 books to my library, and brought home another 110 books from the library. 

First, a disclaimer: I did not read all 378 cover to cover. With such an immense (and pleasurable) task in front of me, and knowing there is more to my job than reading, I have to resort to some method of finding out what an author is trying to say without reading the whole book. There’s dozens of that total in which I only read the “highlights,” following the methods below.

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 2019 was 213 books.

For the curious, like picking your favorite child (I have four), I don’t typically make a “Best of” list for the year. I find some value in almost every book I read, and for me, that’s good enough.

I talked about that in a recent podcast with Bryan Rose. You can listen here.

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 2020, and sharing its wisdom with others?

Me? Well, I’m visiting one of my favorite bookstores later this week, I’ve got three books lined up for delivery by the end of this week, and I’m headed to the library today to pick up another couple on reserve.

After all, you can’t read all day…

…if you don’t start in the morning!

 

Part Two of my “Reading Week” at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020

 

How to Find and Fulfill the Central Purpose of Your Life

Life Younique founder Will Mancini asks this question: 

Do you see your mission in life as something created, designed, and given by God? We are called not just to follow Jesus (a common call to all people) but we are called to accomplish something specific as a one-of-a-kind saint (your special assignment from God).

Is there a process of discovering and living out your unique life call?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Call by Oz Guinness

The Call continues to stand as a classic, reflective work on life’s purpose. Best-selling author Os Guinness goes beyond our surface understanding of God’s call and addresses the fact that God has a specific calling for our individual lives.

Why am I here? What is God’s call in my life? How do I fit God’s call with my own individuality? How should God’s calling affect my career, my plans for the future, my concepts of success? Guinness now helps the reader discover answers to these questions, and more, through a corresponding workbook – perfect for individual or group study.

According to Guinness, “No idea short of God’s call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose and fulfillment.” With tens of thousands of readers to date, The Call is for all who desire a purposeful, intentional life of faith.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The journey to “discover one’s self” has many paths. There are also innumerable resources along those paths. The bookshelves – both physical and digital – are filled with volumes dedicated to helping you “discover your purpose,” “finding the true you,” and many more similar promises.

If you are serious about undertaking such a journey, beware of the inadequate answers offered by most of those resources. While not necessarily wrong, they all fall short of this truth verbalized by author Os Guinness:

Our life purpose comes from two sources at once – who we are created to be and who we are called to be. The real notion of calling is the “ultimate why” for human living.

Become an entrepreneur of life and see all of life as an enterprise transformed by his call. Count the cost, consider the risks, and set out each day on a venture to multiply your gifts and opportunities and bring glory to God and add value to our world. Answering the call is the road to purpose and fulfillment in your life.

Deep in our hearts, we all want to find and fulfill a purpose bigger than ourselves. Only such a larger purpose can inspire us to heights we know we could never reach on our own. For each of us the real purpose is personal and passionate: to know what we are here to do, and why.

The notion of calling, or vocation, is vital to each of us because it touches on the modern search for a basis for individual identity and an understanding of humanness itself.

Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.

Os Guinness, The Call

A NEXT STEP

Set aside a two-hour time block free of distractions of any kind. Divide a chart tablet into three sections, and head each one with the following:

Devotion – commitment to some purpose, willingness to serve God

Dynamism – the activeness of an energetic personality

Direction – the concentration of attention or energy on something

Author Os Guinness states, “Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.”

Rereading this statement each time, take 30 minutes to reflect on each of the three categories listed on the chart tablet. Write as many words, phrases, or sentences – or draw images – that illustrate your current life in that particular area.

After you have completed all three sections, take a 20-minute prayer walk outside, away from distractions, asking God to help you focus those three areas to that you are both comforted and challenged by the calling of God in your life.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 106-1, released November 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<<

Sharpen Your Presentation to Fuel Transformation

Do you think people care about what you have to say? The truth is that the average person doesn’t know you. It’s not that you’re not likeable or smart; it’s just a matter of survival for people in today’s world. There is simply too much out there and not enough time to take it all in.

These words by communications expert Kem Meyer succinctly point out the dilemma for communicators today: for many people, the last thing they are looking for is unsolicited information, or someone to tell them to change their ways.

And yet many, if not most, of the sermons preached by pastors attempt to do just that.

However, many people will take the time to read or listen to something that reinforces an opinion they already have or speaks to a real need in their lives. If they are not looking for it, they won’t hear it. But, if you take the time to learn what they’re looking for, you can get in on a conversation already in progress in their minds.

How then, can a leader understand their audience in such a way to make their message more receptive? How can you connect, communicate, and influence your audience toward life-long transformation?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Five Stars by Carmine Gallo

Ideas don’t sell themselves. As the forces of globalization, automation, and artificial intelligence combine to disrupt every field, having a good idea isn’t good enough. Mastering the ancient art of persuasion is the key to standing out, getting ahead, and achieving greatness in the modern world. Communication is no longer a “soft” skill―it is the human edge that will make you unstoppable, irresistible, and irreplaceable―earning you that perfect rating, that fifth star.

In Five Stars, Carmine Gallo, bestselling author of Talk Like TED, breaks down how to apply Aristotle’s formula of persuasion to inspire contemporary audiences. As the nature of work changes, and technology carries things across the globe in a moment, communication skills become more valuable―not less. Gallo interviews neuroscientists, economists, historians, billionaires, and business leaders of companies like Google, Nike, and Airbnb to show first-hand how they use their words to captivate your imagination and ignite your dreams.

In the knowledge age―the information economy―you are only as valuable as your ideas. Five Stars is a book to help you bridge the gap between mediocrity and exceptionality, and gain your competitive edge in the age of automation.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

If your great ideas are locked in your head they are useless to you, your team, and your audience. You have to be able to explain your ideas efficiently and persuasively.

Mastering the ancient art of persuasion is the key to thriving in a world of rapid change. Developing superior communication skills is no longer an option; it’s fundamental for success. Being able to communicate persuasively and entertainingly makes a compelling case for communication as the crucial differentiator – even in this digital age.

In a world where everything and everybody is competing for the attention of your audience, the ability to communicate is becoming more important than ever.

How can you get better at transporting your thoughts and emotions into the minds of other people?

Mastering the ancient art of persuasion – combining words and ideas to move people to action – is no longer a “soft” skill. It is the fundamental skill to get from good to great in the age of ideas.

The TED stars all practice five presentation habits.

Replace bullet points with pictures

People love pictures because they are a communication tool that dates back as far as humans roamed the planet – back to the cave drawing. Study after study confirms that pictures are far more impactful – and, ultimately, memorable – than text alone.

Make the audience laugh

Humor almost always leads to engagement because it’s one of our most primal and engrained emotions. While you don’t need to be a stand-up comedian to be a hit on the TED stage, a little humor will help you stand out. If they’re laughing, they are listening.

Share personal stories

The ancient brain is wired for stories. Today neuroscientists in the lab are using science to prove what we’ve know for thousands of years – stories are the best tool we have to develop deep, meaningful connections with those we wish to persuade. Facts don’t launch careers; stories do. Facts don’t launch movements; stories do.

Make presentations easy to follow

Skilled TED speakers use humor, tell stories, and structure the argument so that it’s easy to follow and easy to remember. They rely on two specific techniques to do so: headlines and the rule of three.

Promise your audience that they will learn something new

Learning is addictive, thanks to that part of our brain known as the amygdala. When you receive new information, the amygdala releases dopamine, which acts as your brain’s natural “save” button. The need to explore, to learn, something new, to be attracted to something that stands out is wired deep in our DNA. Give your audience something new and delicious to chew on.

Carmine Gallo, Five Stars

A NEXT STEP

While preparing for your next communication opportunity, take the time to review the five ideas above, using them to sharpen your presentation skills.

On a chart tablet, write the five key points listed above, leaving space below each one.

With an outline of your topic in hand, go down the list and write in ideas and actions that can be used for each of the points. After you have finished, review the list and choose at least one from each of the five areas to implement.

Prior to your presentation, enlist the help of a close friend or colleague who is familiar with your communication style. Tell them you would like for them to listen to your presentation, taking notes on not just the information being presented, but also the style and methods used.

Within a day after the event, arrange for a “debrief” with your friend or colleague. Bring out the chart tablet, and make notes from the debrief on it in a different color.

Use the debrief time to sharpen your presentation skills by adding the ideas and actions that worked to your regular preparation and presentation methods.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 104-3, released October 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 to Grow Mentally as a Leader

It doesn’t matter if you pastor a church, work in a high-pressure corporate environment, sell real estate, or toil as a full-time parent: the pace of our information-driven, globally-connected, twenty-first-century society forces us to accelerate down the tracks of modern life – and many of us feel dangerously close to flying off the rails.

We are multitasking ourselves into oblivion just to keep up. We push, we strive, and we overcome!

And then we collapse.

Can we keep this up?

Since the outward forces that exert stress on us are unlikely to disappear, our only choice is to look inward at ways we can better adapt to our environment.

Is it possible that we can “grow” to deal with the pressures we find ourselves in?

There is a short but powerful scripture passage that can give us guidelines in this area. Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (NIV)

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Unstoppable You by Patricia A. McLagan

The ticket to a successful and fulfilling life is a significant upgrade to everyone’s ability to learn. Visionary teacher and lifelong learner Patricia McLagan views learning ability as software for processing daily life. And like all software, learn­ing software requires upgrades – and regular reboots!

In Unstoppable You: Adopt the New Learning 4.0 Mindset and Change Your Life, McLagan shares her method for keeping learning powers sharp, ensuring that we can continuously advance and adapt in a nonstop world. We’re born with basic programming, which is learning 1.0. We then evolve and upgrade as we make our way through the education system in learning 2.0, and we start to self-manage how we learn as we integrate our diverse experi­ences and master skills in learning 3.0. That brings us to learning 4.0 – learning mastery. This final upgrade equips us with survival skills for the 21st century – skills essential to meeting our goals in a world that’s always in motion.

Discover McLagan’s seven practices for effective lifelong learning – from hearing and heeding calls to learn, to taking steps to translate new skills into action. Unstoppable You also includes a complete toolkit of supporting tem­plates, guides, and tips.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

You began an amazing learning journey the day you were born, and it continues to this day. While you may associate “learning” with your younger self, learning continues all throughout your life – or at least, it should.

In today’s fast-changing world, your learning skills need to be constantly “upgraded” in order to survive and thrive. If you think of how you learn as “software” you use in your daily life, you would recognize the need for upgrades just like the software and applications for your devices.

Imagine three learning software upgrades that have occurred so far in human history.

  • Learning 1.0 is the basic program you were born with. It consisted primarily of trial and error learning by watching and imitating others.
  • Learning 2.0 is the upgrade that took place in your school years. It consisted of learning how to study and directed learning toward goals others set.
  • Learning 3.0 supports your continued growth in multiple areas of life by self-managed learning and helping skills.

Learning 4.0 is a necessary upgrade for surviving and thriving in our nonstop world. It is based on new knowledge of how our brains work, the new dynamics of a nonstop world, and an exploding information field.

Are you ready to become a 4.0 learner?

Think of yourself on a lifelong learning journey where you periodically upgrade your learning skills and approach. Are you ready to become a 4.0 learner?

Learning 4.0 is a necessary upgrade for surviving and thriving in our nonstop world. It is based on new knowledge of how our brains work, appreciation of the subjective, the new dynamics of a nonstop world, and an exploding information field.

Learning 4.0 is the upgrade that will keep you in charge of, rather than becoming a servant to, increasingly intelligent technologies as they emerge. Some of the special qualities of learning 4.0 include:

Imagination

Whole brain and whole body

Self-transformation

Deep learning

Anywhere and anytime

Smart use of information

Resource versatility

Change agency

Co-evolution with technology

Shared experiences

Patricia A. McLagan, Unstoppable You

A NEXT STEP

Imagine yourself being a 4.0 learner. See yourself using and directing your amazing brain, learning while awake and while you sleep, and keeping up with and a bit ahead of the changes in your work and life in general.

Unstoppable You author Patricia McLagan has developed seven practices of 4.0 Learners. Use the brief outline below to chart a new course to your learning journey.

Hear the Call to Learn – to make your need or interest explicit and be sure your learning motivation is clear.

  • What is calling you or your team to learn?
  • What change or development is it asking for?

Create Future-Pull – to create a learning direction that energizes and focuses your learning, creating a tension between the now and the future.

  • What is the setting or situation?
  • What are you feeling, seeing, thinking, hearing, sensing?

Search Far and Wide – to be sure that the information, resources, and experiences you use for learning are the best for you.

  • Scan the information fields available for you to learn from.
  • Keep a list of the learning experiences and resources you think will best help you move toward your future vision.

Connect the Dots – to provide the best structure for your learning so you stay focused on your future vision while remaining open to new calls to learning.

  • Using the resources from the previous step, lay them out on a path leading toward your future vision.
  • Add checkpoints to the journey to review your journey, revise your vision, appreciate progress, and solve problems.

Mine for Gold – to bring useful information into your brain’s short-term memory.

  • Set up your learning environment so that it will be conducive to success.
  • Be present to learn, managing your energy and motivations.

Learn to Last – to convert what you are learning into long-term capabilities including remembered knowledge and creative outcomes.

  • Retain what you want to remember.
  • Develop skills and habits.
  • Shift beliefs and attitudes.
  • Learn for creative insights.

Transfer to Life – to take extra steps to bring your learning to life and sustain it for the longer-term.

  • Set up for success.
  • Get allies.
  • Celebrate success.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 105-1, released November 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<<