How to Leverage the Fuzzy Front End of the Onboarding Process

Do you remember your first day at your current job?

Was it a pleasant and memorable experience?

Or did it make you question your decision by the end of the first day?

Even well-meaning organizations often miss on new employee onboarding and orientation. Common mistakes include:

  • Inundating the new employee with facts, figures, names and faces packed into one eight-hour (or longer) day
  • Required viewing of tedious orientation videos
  • Endless “talking-head” lectures
  • Providing inadequate or outdated technology
  • Inadequate assignments so the new team member feels as if they are treading water rather than jumping right into the work of the new job.
  • Not having any process of enfolding new people in the life of the organization.

Your organization’s positive first impressions can cement the deal for a new employee. Those positive actions can also speed integration, productivity, and contribute to a sense of camaraderie. Various research findings show that good orientation programs can improve employee retention by at least 25 percent.

THE QUICK SUMMARY

Your first 100 days in a new leadership position are critical, as they set the foundation for your team’s success going forward. The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan helps you start gaining traction even before your first day in a new job. The playbook gives you a concrete strategy for getting a fast start—engaging the culture, setting direction, aligning the team, avoiding common missteps, and delivering results. This new fourth edition has been updated with new graphics and downloadable tools, and expanded with new information learned from real-world clients over the past twelve years.

Many organizations, regardless of size, industry, or geography, realize that it is strategically imperative to effectively onboard leaders into new roles and combine teams during M&A and reorganization. New thinking for new teams provides ways to get quick results with key business initiatives, and new discussions on cultural fit and evolution to help you better contribute to your organization’s success. Updated stories and case studies provide real-life glimpses at how successful leaders navigate tricky situations, and extensive online tools point you toward additional resources as the need arises.

40 percent of new leaders fail within the first eighteen months on the job. When a new leader drops the ball, it’s at the expense of the team, the organization, and the leader’s track record. Successful leaders start leading and delivering immediately. This book shows you how to start getting results right away and dramatically increase your chances for success—by systematically shaping your leadership with intent.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Imagine the following scenarios…

You’re a new employee in a fast-growing organization. It may be your first job right out of school, or it could be the next step in your career. You show up on the first day bright and eager to begin, but you really have no clue about the details surrounding your new job, other than the basic description. Apparently, neither has the organization that hired you! Your first greeting is something like, “Oh – you’re here? I guess we’d better find an office for you…”

Or maybe the organization that hired you has some sort of human relations department in place. There is a person in charge of new hires, and they welcome you on your first day, showing you to your office, complete with a fresh technology setup, passwords, files, important information, and a thorough weeklong orientation schedule.

Maybe your new organization has already set up everything for you, and you step into your new job ready to go. That’s good – but still falls short of great.

If you have waited until your first day on the job to begin, you are already behind.

Your new leadership role begins the moment you accept the offer, the deal is done, or the re-organization is announced. Wouldn’t you like concrete framework for successful leadership and a clear roadmap to the critical first 100 days?

Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking that leadership begins on Day One of a new job. Like it or not, a new leader’s role begins a soon as that person is an acknowledged candidate for the job.

Everything new leaders do and say and don’t do and don’t say will send powerful signals, starting well before they even walk in the door on Day One.

If you embrace this concept and do something about it, you increase your chances of success. This one idea can make or break a new leader’s transition.

The bonus time between acceptance and start is the Fuzzy Front End. It often comes at the worst possible time, interfering with the last days of an old job, time earmarked for taking a vacation, catching up with personal errands postponed for too lone, or just unwinding a little before the big day.

The good news is that, more often than not, the key elements of the Fuzzy Front End can be addressed in relatively short order.

Make your Fuzzy Front End even more powerful with these six steps:

Determine your leadership approach given the context and culture you face.

Step one is to identify the need for change and the readiness for change. The context you’re facing determines how fast you should move. The current culture determines how fast and effectively you can move.

Identify key stakeholders.

Step two of the Fuzzy Front End is to identify your key stakeholders, the people who can have the most impact on your success in your new role. Be sure to look in all directions to find key stakeholders.

Craft your entry message using current best thinking.

Step three of the Fuzzy Front End is clarifying your initial message. Everything you do communicates to everyone in the organization observing you and everyone in the organization who is in communication with those who observe you.

Jump-start key relationships and accelerate your learning.

The two actions of Step four of the Fuzzy Front End work hand in hand. You achieve this by conducting pre-start meetings and phone calls now, before you start. The impact you can make by reaching out to critical stakeholders before you start is incalculable.

Manage your personal and office setup.

No matter how much you try, you cannot give a new job your best efforts until Step five of the Fuzzy Front End is underway. Taking the time to figure out housing, schools, transportation, and the like is not a luxury. If you wait, these things will distract you at a time when everyone is making those first and lasting impressions of your performance.

Plan Your Day One, early days, and first 100 days.

The knowledge gathered from Step six of the Fuzzy Front End should enable you to begin to put things in context and help you figure out what you want to do on that first day, during that first week, and during those first 100 days.

George Bradt, Jayme Check, and John Lawler, The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan

A NEXT STEP

Create your own strategy for dealing with the Fuzzy Front End by taking the following actions, as suggested by the authors.

Write the six steps listed above on each of six chart tablets, and answer the following questions for each.

Determine your leadership approach given the context and culture you face

  • How significantly and how fast does the organization need to change given its environment, history, and recent performance?
  • Are there any trends in the environment in each of these 5Cs: Customers, Collaborators, Capabilities, Competitors, and Conditions?
  • Review the organization’s history as far back as you can for founder’s intent, heroes along the way, and the stories and myths people carry around with them.
  • Look beyond the obvious – what is working well, and less well?

Identify key stakeholders

  • Write the following words down the left side of the chart tablet: Up, Across, and Down.
  • Answer each of the following questions with each of three “audiences” listed above in mind.
  • With whom are you communicating? Be as specific as you can.
  • What are they currently thinking and doing? What is most important to them?
  • What do they need to stop doing, keep doing, or change how they are doing?
  • What do they need to know to move them from their current state to the desired state?

Craft your entry message using current best thinking

  • Your communication points will flow from your message, the platform for change, the vision, and the call to action.
  • Platform for change – What are the things that will make your audience realize they need to do something different from what they have been doing?
  • Vision – What is the picture of a brighter future that your audience can picture themselves in?
  • Call to action – What are the actions the audience can take to get there so they can be a part of the solution?

Jump-start key relationships and accelerate your learning

  • Using the list of stakeholders created above, determine which ones you should speak to before Day One.
  • Realize the answers you get to questions before you actually start will be different from the answers you get after you start.
  • Even when a pre-meeting may not be possible, just asking will make a favorable impact.
  • Remember that pre-start conversations will often have a cascading impact.

Manage your personal and office setup

  • Create a personal, time-based set-up relocation list.
  • Create an office setup checklist to address office setup issues before Day One.
  • Make sure the human relations office/staff is accommodating your needs by helping you assimilate culturally so you can have an impactful Day One.

Plan Your Day One, early days, and first 100 days

  • Using steps listed above, create a 100-Day plan worksheet with broad categories and actions to capture the foundational elements of your plan.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 116-1, released April 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<<

 

Strategy: How You Do What You Do

Remember the last time you sat down to do a jigsaw puzzle? The work proceeds in two basic steps. First, you put the edges together. Finding all of the little pieces with straight edges is the easiest way to begin. As you piece together the top and bottom and sides, the puzzle is framed up within a relatively short period of time.

The second part of the process is now ready to begin, because you have defined the basic shape and outline of the puzzle. Before building the frame, it would have been exceedingly difficult to put many of the middle pieces together. But now, all of those elusive jigsaw shapes and unclear image fragments have perspective and boundaries.

Even though the frame makes the puzzle-building project easier, more work remains. You pick up awkward shape after awkward shape, twisting and turning them and turning again, until you get just the right fit and-snap-the image develops, one piece at a time. After a long journey that may take days or even months, the final image emerges.

Articulating your church’s vision is like working on a jigsaw puzzle.

Auxano co-founder Will Mancini developed the Vision Frame concept to show you how to articulate your vision the same way you would build a puzzle: in two basic steps.

This excerpt of SUMS Remix continues to introduce the Vision Frame, guiding you to first think about the four outer edges – the components of your church’s identity that frame everything else you do. These edges anchor the second part of the process (a future SUMS Remix), which involves the direction of living and articulating the dynamic vision of your Church Unique through the daily work of turning and twisting the pieces of the organization. The edges of the frame are definitive, but the middle of the puzzle is dynamic. The fixed nature of step one, building the frame, anchors the fluid nature of step two, where your vision picture slowly develops into the better intermediate future God has entrusted to you.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Move by Patty Azzarello

Move is your guide to mobilizing your whole organization to take your business forward. Whatever your needed transformation may be: a new initiative, a new market, a new product, your fresh strategy is up against a powerful foe: an organization’s tendency to stay very busy and completely engaged  with what it’s already doing. This book shows you how to cut through resistance and get your team engaged and proactively doing the new thing!

Author Patty Azzarello draws on over twenty-five years of international business management experience to identify the chronic challenges that keep organizations from decisively executing strategy, and to give you a practical game plan for breaking through. Leaders tend to assume that stalls in execution are inevitable, unchanging parts of the workplace—but things can change. At the heart of every execution problem is the fact that there simply are not enough people doing what the business needs. This guide shows you how to get your entire organization on board—remove the fear, excuses, and hurdles—and uphold the new pursuit against distractions and dissent.

No transformation can succeed without suitable engagement from the whole organization, but building engagement can be difficult, uncomfortable, and tentative. This book shows you how to get it done.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The absence of strategy, as Will Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church. By healthy, he means that there is some foundation of spiritual unity in the church and trust among the leaders.

Unfortunately, many churches think that being more effective is simply a matter of trying harder, being more obedient, or praying more. The battle belongs to the Lord, but the Lord also asks us to prepare the horse for battle. In other words, kingdom effectiveness and missional movement require more than spiritual unity; they require strategic clarity.

The strategy is the piece of the Vision Frame that brings this crucial dimension. This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits into the mission. 

Strategies are often stated in end goals. An end goal, no matter how inspiring it is, is not enough. The “Middle” is the important part.

It’s easy to get excited at the beginning and define long-term goals at the end. It’s the “Middle” that’s the problem. It’s hard to keep an organization focused on doing something new and difficult for a long time. Since real transformation takes time, you need a strategy to maintain execution and momentum through the Middle.

A good strategy defines what you will do. What you will do describes what happens in the Middle. While you are in the Middle, without the right measures that define your strategy in a concrete way, you can’t know if you are making progress. And if you can’t see that you are making progress, you will most likely not keep going. Everyone will stay busy with what they are already doing, and your transformation will stall. The leaders and the team need to get fiercely aligned on the specific, clearly defined, resourced, and sponsored outcomes that need to happen through the Middle to bring about the long-term success of your strategy.

A big reason for the stalls that too often occur in the Middle is that many organizations mistake listing end goals as a strategy. You become excited about the wonderful achievement at the end, but there is nothing in the definition of that end goal that tells you specifically what to do, which way to go about it, what problems you need to solve, or what you need to fix, change, stop, or invent to get there – these are all things that need to happen in the Middle.

A strategy must describe what you will do, including how you will measure and resource it. Strategy must clarify specific action.

Patty Azzarello, Move

A NEXT STEP

Strategy Defined

Strategy is the picture or process that demonstrates how the church will accomplish its mission on the broadest level. Strategy answers the question, “How do we do what we do?” It is a flashlight that shows new people clear next steps. It also sets the expectation of involvement for all members.

The strategy is like a container that holds all of your church activities into one meaningful whole. Without this picture individuals within the church will forget how each component fits into the mission. They will be lost in a programmatic soup of good but random activity.

Think of strategy as a pattern of participation. It reveals places and rhythms of being involved. It is the church’s operational logic. It shows how every major environment (time and place at church) is a part of a discipleship pathway. Strategy is the missional map or “where Joe goes” at the church.

Strategy Reminders

  • The strategy defines your unique church model
  • Without strategy, programs are not “vertically related” to the mission
  • Without strategy, programs are not “horizontally related” to one another
  • In most churches, 50% of worshipers do nothing other than worship
  • The two greatest barriers to involvement are, “I don’t know how” and “No one invited me.” Clear strategy removes these barriers.
  • Generally speaking, churches with fewer higher quality ministries have better results
  • Strive for simplicity with strategy – good programs are enemy to great programs
  • Over-programmed churches should chart a 1-3 year alignment journey
  • The vision team should be able to draw the strategy on a napkin
  • Use a visual strategy icon in all church communications 

Gather your team and give everyone a large napkin and a pen. Ask them to pretend that they are having coffee with a key leader in their ministry. Give them 90 seconds to draw a picture of how your church is called to help people mature in their faith as disciples, using as few words as possible. Don’t let them look at each other’s napkin until everyone else is finished, then tape them next to each other on a wall.

Discuss together: How close are they to the same picture? Are the words used the same or different? What steps are needed to clarify a shared strategy among your team?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 115-3, released March 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<<

How to Communicate Your Vision Through Stories

When Thomas Davenport and John Beck wrote the book The Attention Economy, they brought a very important message to church leaders. The book argues that information and talent are no longer your most important resource but rather attention itself. People cannot hear the vision unless we cut through the clutter.

The principle of attention requires church leaders to be bold and relevant as they integrate vision into the internal communication of the church. According to Davenport and Beck, these are the most important characteristics to get attention:

  • The communication is personalized.
  • The communication comes from a trustworthy source.
  • The communication is brief.
  • The communication is emotional.

In other words, your communication should be telling stories.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Laws of Brand Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

We have been sharing stories from the beginning of human civilization―for good reason. Stories captivate our attention and build communities by bringing ideas, emotions, and experiences to life in a memorable way. This is proving to be an increasingly potent strategy in the era of the connected digital consumer. With consumers more empowered than ever before, your brand isn’t what you say it is anymore, it is what consumers say it is. As a result, capturing customers’ hearts and minds today requires businesses to prioritize emotional connections with customers, to be in the moment, having authentic conversations, to share relevant, inspiring stories that move and motivate people to take action. 

Packed with inspiring tips, strategies, and stories from two leading marketing innovators, The Laws of Brand Storytelling shows business leaders and marketing professionals the power storytelling has to positively impact and differentiate your business, attract new customers, and inspire new levels of brand advocacy. The authors lay down the law―literally―for readers through a compelling step-by-step process of defining who you are as a brand, setting a clear strategy, sourcing the best stories for your business, and crafting and delivering compelling narratives for maximum effect. Win your customers’ hearts and minds, and you win their business and their loyalty.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In SUMS Remix 109, “brand” was defined as the perception of your organization that lives in the minds of your audience.

The authors of Brand Storytelling remind us of that: “It’s not about you; it’s about them. Create stories that your audience can relate to. Make your customer the hero. Be human in everything you do.”

Brand storytelling isn’t just about the content you create. Brand storytelling is who you are. Every story adds to a person’s perception of your brand.

Brand storytelling is the art of shaping a company’s identity through the use of narratives and storytelling techniques that facilitate an emotional response and establish meaningful connections.

Brand storytelling done right is never self-absorbed; it is a dialog. It’s human and real and relatable. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or even funny, but it unites, sparks conversations, and puts people first.

Storytelling can take the form of a video, a tweet, a conversation, a surprise-and-delight act, great customer service, or a brand taking a stand on a specific issue. The list is long. A company’s every interaction with the world matters in shaping its story (both at the macro and micro level).

Macro stories are at the core of your organization’s DNA. They highlight your company’s story, its founding myth. They can do so through a logo, a brand identity guide, and the story of the founder(s). What drove the founder(s) to risk everything and start an enterprise? Why was it important? What challenges had to be overcome? How was the ultimate mission statement shaped? Macro stories are the why, the foundation of and the reason for everything the company does.

Micro stories are the lifeblood of your storytelling strategy. They are an “always-on” approach to continue building your macro story. They are the moments in time that allow us to keep our brand at the forefront of everyone’s mind in a relevant way.

Micro stories can come in any shape or form: websites updates, social content, blog posts, press releases, co-marketing and partner messaging, packaging, events , customer stories, employee stories, influencer stories, internal communications, newsletters, e-mail campaigns, product deliver, and so on.

Your micro stories cannot contradict your macro story. They are designed to support and extend it.

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, The Laws of Brand Storytelling

A NEXT STEP

According to authors of “The Laws of Brand Storytelling, “Great marketing isn’t just about grabbing attention with catchy taglines and click bait headlines anymore, but holding that attention and building lasting and meaningful connections. Brands can no longer rely on slogans and jingles but must learn to tell stories.”

Set aside some time in your next leadership team meeting to review the concepts of “macro” and “micro” stories as listed in the excerpt above. Write the words “macro” and “micro” on two chart tablets.

For no more than five minutes, list all stories in each of those two categories by name or a brief description. For example, “founding story,” “relocation,” “Sam Smith revival,” etc.

After listing the stories on the two chart tablets, go back and review each one as follows:

Macro stories – Talk through the stories listed, using the questions posed in the excerpt above to guide the discussion. Discuss how these stories need to be woven more into the tapestry of your church’s conversations.

Micro stories – Review the list of micro stories and discuss how each supports the macro stories you previously discussed. If they do not support the macro story, discuss how you will adapt them, or stop doing them.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 118-1, released May 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<<

Your VALUES Guide Why You Do What You Do

Remember the last time you sat down to do a jigsaw puzzle? The work proceeds in two basic steps. First, you put the edges together. Finding all of the little pieces with straight edges is the easiest way to begin. As you piece together the top and bottom and sides, the puzzle is framed up within a relatively short period of time.

The second part of the process is now ready to begin, because you have defined the basic shape and outline of the puzzle. Before building the frame, it would have been exceedingly difficult to put many of the middle pieces together. But now, all of those elusive jigsaw shapes and unclear image fragments have perspective and boundaries.

Even though the frame makes the puzzle-building project easier, more work remains. You pick up awkward shape after awkward shape, twisting and turning them and turning again, until you get just the right fit and-snap-the image develops, one piece at a time. After a long journey that may take days or even months, the final image emerges.

Articulating your church’s vision is like working on a jigsaw puzzle.

Auxano co-founder Will Mancini developed the Vision Frame concept to show you how to articulate your vision the same way you would build a puzzle: in two basic steps.

This SUMS Remix will introduce the Vision Frame, guiding you to first think about the four outer edges – the components of your church’s identity that frame everything else you do. These edges anchor the second part of the process (a future SUMS Remix), which involves the direction of living and articulating the dynamic vision of your Church Unique through the daily work of turning and twisting the pieces of the organization. The edges of the frame are definitive, but the middle of the puzzle is dynamic. The fixed nature of step one, building the frame, anchors the fluid nature of step two, where your vision picture slowly develops into the better intermediate future God has entrusted to you. 

THE QUICK SUMMARYThe Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are.

In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides.

Simply put, an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent, and complete, when its management, operations, and culture are unified. Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion, and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave.

Lencioni’s first non-fiction book provides leaders with a groundbreaking, approachable model for achieving organizational health complete with stories, tips, and anecdotes from his experiences consulting to some of the nation’s leading organizations. In this age of informational ubiquity and nano-second change, it is no longer enough to build a competitive advantage based on intelligence alone. The Advantage provides a foundational construct for conducting business in a new way, one that maximizes human potential and aligns the organization around a common set of principles.

A SIMPLE SOLUTIONValues: Why are we doing it?

A church without values is like a river without banks – just a large puddle. It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement. As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity. The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.

The role of the leader is to identify the most important values and pull them above the waterline of people’s perception. Once they are in clear view, the leader can nurture their development, enabling the church to do more of what it does best. Once your people know and own the values, it’s like creating the banks of a river to channel energy and momentum. 

As you clarify your deeply held values, they become tools for shaping culture only to the extent that they are captured and carried. 

If an organization is intolerant of everything it will stand for nothing.

The importance of creating clarity and enabling a company to become healthy cannot be overstated. More than anything else, values are critical because they define a company’s personality. They provide employees with clarity about how to behave, which reduces the need for inefficient and demoralizing micromanagement.

That alone makes values worthwhile. But beyond that, an organization that has properly identified its values and adheres to them will naturally attract the right employees and repel the wrong ones. This makes recruiting exponentially easier and more effective, and it drastically reduces turnover.

An important key to identifying the right, small set of behavioral values is understanding that there are different kinds of values. Among these, core values are by far the most important, and must not be confused with others.

Core values are the few – just two or three – behavioral traits that are inherent in an organization. Core values lie at the heart of the organization’s identity, do not change over time, and must already exist. In other words, they cannot be contrived.

An organization knows that it has identified its core values correctly when it will allow itself to be punished for living those values and when it accepts the fact that employees will sometimes take those values too far. Core values are not a matter of convenience. They cannot be extracted from an organization anymore than a human being’s conscience can be extracted from his or her person. As a result, they should be used to guide every aspect of an organization, from hiring and firing to strategy and performance management.

Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

A NEXT STEP

Values Defined

Values are the motivational flame of the church. They are the shared convictions that guide your actions and reveal your strengths. Values answer, “Why do we do what we do at our church?” They are springboards for daily action and filters for decision-making. Values represent the conscience of the organization. They distinguish your philosophy of ministry and shape your culture and ethos.

While values are a leadership tool like the mission, they are not expressed verbally everywhere and all the time. Therefore, people coming to church will encounter the atmosphere that is shaped by values before they hear the values themselves. Ideally, values will define the experience for an attender before they are a conscious thought. Values are “what Joe feels” at the church.

Values Reminders

  • Anchor your values in reality (actual vs. aspirational is 3:1)
  • Consider not “what we do” but “what characterizes everything we do”
  • Remember “a river without banks is just a large puddle”
  • Avoid ideas of individual spiritual growth and think “organizational glue”
  • Do the organizational “checkbook test” – prove the value with church finances
  • Capture uniqueness and personality, be distinct
  • Think essence not event
  • Articulate at four levels: name, definition, “demonstrated by” statements, and scriptural support

Gather the team and ask this question: If a new guest was to report back after six months of consistent worship attendance, what would they saw we truly value based on their experience and observation? How does this influence our current values language or inspire us to create new values?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 115-2, released March 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<<

Economics Principles at Your Church

My college experience included four years serving as a student assistant in the office of the chairman of our school’s economics professor. For 10 hours each week I got a healthy dose of Economics – everything from Econ 101 to advanced statistical analysis. Dr. Cho certainly knew his subject matter, and the quizzes, exams, and homework I graded made me appreciate the field of study, even to the point of taking extra classes and obtaining a minor in economics.

Over the 30 years since college, various economic concepts have popped up in my work on a church staff and as a church consultant. The most regular of these has been “The Pareto Principle,” first written about in 1906 by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

You probably know it as the “80/20 Rule.”

John Maxwell recalls learning of it in a college business management course, calling it one of the most profound eureka moments in his life:

The professor was teaching the Pareto Principle, and as he explained its impact, my eyes were opened. He explained that:

  • 80 percent of traffic jams occur on 20 percent of the roads
  • 80 percent of classroom participation comes from 20 percent of students
  • 80 percent of the time you wear 20 percent of your clothes
  • 80 percent of the profits come from only 20 percent of the customers
  • 80 percent of problems are generated by 20 percent of the employees
  • 80 percent of all decisions can be made on 20 percent of the information

What an eye opener! It meant that the best 20 percent of my activities were sixteen times more productive than the remaining 80 percent. (from Leadership Gold, by John Maxwell)

Dozens of books in my Leadership Library refer to the 80/20 rule, most often in terms of resource and time efficiency. In this context, I think it is appropriate, and a very useful rule of thumb. Certain assumptions can follow from this idea – you should focus on your best customers, or your hardest working staff members, or your most profitable selling item – with these you reap the greatest results for the least effort.

In ChurchWorld, a handful of members typically account for most of the effort in the congregations. (A corollary to this principle is that a few members cause most of the headaches, but I’ll save that for another day.)

  • How can you shift more of your church members from sitting to serving, from being spectators to engaging more deeply?
  • Would doing so help more people to grow and develop spiritually?

A classic Leadership Network publication may just be what you are looking for to answer those questions. The Other 80 Percent is a practical guide for church leaders, written by respected researcher Scott Thumma and noted author Warren Bird. The authors draw upon research across a broad range of Protestant churches of all kinds.

I can almost hear Dr. Cho now: “the distribution of your sheep can be shown like this…”

Beginning tomorrow, I would like to invite you to look deeper into The Other 80 Percent and see how you might use it to help move your church forward.

How to Thrive in Turbulent Times

Note: During the current “stay-at-home” mandates and other restrictions in place across the country, I am diving back into 11 years of posts, articles, and reviews across my different websites to bring back timely information for today.


 

In the first and second centuries, the Christian church was communal, organic, and unstructured – a lot like the Internet today. Within the Roman Empire, the Christian church grew from a handful of believers in AD 40 to over 31 million adherents by AD 350, making it the world’s first viral organization. By contrast, today’s mainline churches are institutionally powerful, but spiritually weak.

What’s true for churches is true for other institutions: the more “organized” and tightly “managed” they are, the less adaptable they are. Not surprisingly, the most resilient thing on the planet, the Internet, is loosely organized and lightly managed, and so was the first century Christian Church. The lesson here? To thrive in turbulent times, organizations must become more disorganized and unmanaged – less structural, less hierarchical, and less routinized.

As institutions mature, the positive thrust of missions diminishes and the pull of habit strengthens – until one day, the organization can no longer escape the gravitational field of its own legacy.

No pastor would ever tell you that the goal of his or her church is to create a place where members can gather each week to be expertly entertained while congratulating themselves on their moral superiority. And yet this often seems to be the case.

Speaking to the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit a few years ago, Hamel asked the crowd “Is there a difference between ‘doing church’ and ‘doing Jesus’?”

Following a positive response, he then asked, “So where do your loyalties lie? Is it with the mission of redemption and reconciliation, or with the traditional programs and policies of your church? And if it’s the first, how would people know? What would be the evidence? Wouldn’t it be your willingness to sacrifice some of these familiar practices on the altar of a bigger purpose?”

Silence.

I’ve never met a leader who swears allegiance to the status quo, and yet few organizations seem capable of proactive change.

Gary Hamel

It’s impossible to build adaptable organizations without adaptable people – individuals who are humble, honest, and inspired.

Are you adaptable?

 

inspired and adapted by What Matters Now, by Gary Hamel

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Our capacity for learning is a part of being a human being. From birth, we are on a fast track of learning – movement, speech, understanding, and so forth. Unfortunately, many people equate “learning” with “schooling,” and when you’re done with school, you’re done with learning.

We are uniquely endowed with the capacity for learning, creating, and growing intellectually – and it doesn’t have an expiration date tied to an event, like graduation.

The practice of lifelong learning has never been more important to leaders than it is today. The necessity of expanding your knowledge through lifelong learning is critical to your success.

Take reading, for example. Many of the most successful people in today’s organizations read an average of 2-3 hours per day. No longer limited to books, reading is a lifelong learning activity that can be done online anywhere at anytime.

Learning is the minimum requirement for success as a leader. Because information and knowledge on everything is increasing every day, your knowledge must also increase to keep up.

Learning how to learn is more important than ever. Dedicate yourself to trying and learning new ideas, tasks, and skills. You don’t need to be aware of everything all the time but learning new skills faster and better – that in itself is a tough skill to master.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger

From the bestselling author of A More Beautiful Question, hundreds of big and small questions that harness the magic of inquiry to tackle challenges we all face–at work, in our relationships, and beyond.

By asking questions, we can analyze, learn, and move forward in the face of uncertainty. But “questionologist” Warren Berger says that the questions must be the right ones; the ones that cut to the heart of complexity or enable us to see an old problem in a fresh way.

In The Book of Beautiful Questions, Berger shares illuminating stories and compelling research on the power of inquiry. Drawn from the insights and expertise of psychologists, innovators, effective leaders, and some of the world’s foremost creative thinkers, he presents the essential questions readers need to make the best choices when it truly counts, with a particular focus in four key areas: decision making, creativity, leadership, and relationships.

The powerful questions in this book can help you:
– Identify opportunities in your career or industry
– Generate fresh ideas in business or in your own creative pursuits
– Check your biases so you can make better judgments and decisions
– Do a better job of communicating and connecting with the people around you

Thoughtful, provocative, and actionable, these beautiful questions can be applied immediately to bring about change in your work or your everyday life.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Nothing has such power to cause a complete mental turnaround as that of a question. Questions spark curiosity, curiosity creates ideas, and ideas lead to making things better.

Questions are powerful means to employ (read unleash) creative potential – potential that would otherwise go untapped and undiscovered.

When we are confronted with almost any demanding situation, in work or in life, simply taking the time and effort to ask questions can help guide us to better decisions and a more productive course of action. But the questions must be the right ones – the ones that cut to the heart of a complex challenge or enable us to see an old problem in a new light.

Questions can help steer you in the right direction at critical moments when you’re trying to 1) decide on something; 2) create something; 3) connect with other people; and 4) be a good and effective leader.

Decision-making demands critical thinking – which is rooted in questioning. It’s up to each of us to make more enlightened judgments and choices. Asking oneself a few well-considered questions before deciding on something can be surprisingly effective in helping to avoid the common traps of decision-making.

Creativity often depends on our ability, and willingness, to grapple with challenging questions that can fire the imagination. For people within an organization trying to innovate by coming up with fresh ideas for a new offering or an individual attempting to express a vision in a fresh and compelling way, the creative path is a journey of inquiry.

Our success in connecting with others can be improved dramatically by asking more questions – of ourselves and of the people with whom we’re trying to relate. While many of us tend to rely on generic “How are you?” questions, more thoughtful and purposeful questions can do a better job of breaking the ice with strangers or bonding with clients and colleagues.

Leadership is not usually associated with questions – leaders are supposed to have all the answers – but it is becoming increasingly clear that the best leaders are those with the confidence and humility to ask the ambitious, unexpected questions that no one else is asking. Today’s leaders must ask the questions that anticipate and address the needs of an organization and its people, questions that set the tone for curious exploration and innovation, and questions that frame a larger challenge others can rally around.

Warren Berger, The Book of Beautiful Questions

A NEXT STEP

Developing the art of questioning does not require an advanced degree. As a matter of fact, one of the best ways to learn how to become a better questioner is to learn from the typical four-year-old girl.

If you have ever been a parent, you understand this. Studies show that children at this age may ask anywhere from 100 to 300 questions per day. While it may seem like child’s play, it’s actually a complex, high-order level of thinking. It requires enough awareness to know that one does not know – and the ingenuity to begin to do something about it.

Ask “why.”

To begin to develop the abilities of a better questioner, consider the broad questions developed by author Warren Berger in each of the four areas listed above.

Decision-making

  • Why do I believe what I believe? (And what if I’m wrong?)
  • Why should I accept what I’m told?
  • What if this isn’t a “yes or no” decision?
  • How would I later explain this decision to others?

Creativity

  • Why create?
  • Where did my creativity go?
  • What is the world missing?
  • What if I allow myself to begin anywhere?

Connecting with others

  • Why connect?
  • What if I go beyond “How are you?”
  • How might I listen with my whole body?
  • What if I advise less and inquire more?

Leadership

  • Why do I choose to lead?
  • What’s going on out there – and how can I help?
  • Am I looking for what’s broken – or what’s working?
  • Do I really want a culture of curiosity?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 113-3, released February 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<<