Simon Says, Be a Designer

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing conditions into preferred ones.     – Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate

If we take Simon’s description but simplify the language and tone, we end up with a new definition powerful enough to recast the way organizations think:

Design is change.

According to Simon, anyone who tries to improve a situation is a designer. You don’t need a Master of Fine Arts degree and 9 years of experience at a design studio to engage in designing.

You just need to find a situation worth improving and then work through the creative process.

And of course, ChurchWorld leaders don’t have any of those situations, do they?

Marty Neumeier, writing in The Designful Company, reminds us that leaders are designers, too, since leading is the act of moving people from an existing situation to an improved one.

According to Neumeier, while everyone uses design thinking in some situations, certain people are particularly suited to it. They tend to be:

  • Empathetic – able to understand the motivations of individuals and form strong emotional bonds
  • Intuitive – a shortcut for understanding situations. While the logical mind works through sequential steps, the intuitive mind is good for seeing the whole picture
  • Imaginative – new ideas come from divergent thinking, not convergent thinking
  • Idealistic – creative personalities are notorious for focusing on what’s wrong, what’s missing, or what they believe needs to change.

Designful leaders are energized by the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with constant change. Designful leaders don’t accept the hand-me-down notion that cost cutting and innovation are mutually exclusive, or that short-term and long-term goals are irreconcilable. They reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and.”

When you look in your leadership mirror, do you see a designful leader?

 

inspired by and adapted from The Designful Company by Marty Neumeier

The Designful Company

 
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It’s Time to Rethink How and Why You Exercise

As a leader, does being focused on serving the needs of others makes it easy for you to neglect your own health?

Who takes care of the caregiver?

In your role of a leader and servant to your church, you probably push yourself to a point of exhaustion and beyond, rationalizing that you don’t have time for diets or exercise or that you will catch up on sleep later.

The reality is that the more you neglect your personal health, the less effective you actually are at caring for the spiritual health of others. Nodding off during meetings, eating greasy fast food while you drive, and collapsing on the couch during family time after work can be as destructive and sinful to your ministry as a moral failure.

Many leaders struggle with caring for their own health and well-being, and have become defeated and frustrated through the years as quick-fixes and January resolutions have come and gone. It is easier, and way more fun, to give in and neglect your own health.

It’s time to rethink how and why you exercise.

THE QUICK SUMMARY No Sweat, by Michelle Segar

Do you secretly hate exercising? Struggle to stick with a program? Millions of people try and fail to stay fit. But what if “exercising” is the real problem, not you?

No Sweat translates years of research on exercise and motivation into a simple four-point program that will empower you to break the cycle of exercise failure once and for all. You’ll discover why you should forget about willpower and stop gritting your teeth through workouts you hate. Instead, you’ll become motivated from the inside out and start to crave physical activity. You’ll be hooked!

Practical, proven, and loaded with inspiring stories, No Sweat makes getting fit easier–and more fun–than you ever imagined. Get ready to embrace an active lifestyle that you’ll love. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

How many people have you known that have made a resolution to start exercising, watch their diets, and/or improve their overall health? Maybe you have even made that resolution?

Now it’s honesty time – how many of those resolutions lasted even a month?

Millions of Americans seem to be on a diet and exercise treadmill – not the machine, but a cycle of losing and regaining weight, starting an exercise program only to abandon it a few weeks later, and spending hard-earned money on food programs or gym memberships that they soon abandon.

It’s time to consider taking a break, and give yourself some breathing room in this crazy cycle.

The health and fitness message isn’t working for you, and you’re not alone. It’s time to consider doing what you enjoy doing. It will be an excellent motivator for exercising – and it works.

Physical activity is the foundation of a lifetime of fitness, health, meaning, and well-being – and it doesn’t require going to the gym five days a week.

Reaping the benefits of physical activity is not just about the sweat: an almost infinite variety of physical movement choices and intensities will work just as well, or better, than a strict regimen of intense workouts. It requires you to start on a journey to a new way of thinking about things – a journey that requires the right MAPS.

Your MAPS will help you redirect your thinking about physical movement and head in a new and different direction, toward satisfying and sustainable physical goals and outcomes, including energy, meaning, and well-being.

Meaning –This information in this section will help you uncover your hidden expectations, the reasons that set you up for short-term results, and will help you understand that you can change a Meaning that leads to failure into a Meaning that motivates you to move.

Awareness – The information in this section will give you Awareness of the realities of physical exercise, how you make decisions, how motivation works, and how to convert your Meaning of exercise from a chore into a gift. You’ll also become aware of new science on what counts and on how easy and fun it actually is to fit and negotiate feel-good physical activities into your daily life.

Permission – Family, work, friends, and the duties and tasks of daily life all compete for our time and energy. Giving yourself Permission to prioritize your own self-care – to feel better every day – provides the fuel for your cherished roles and responsibilities and powers your sense of well-being.

Strategy – We have all the best intentions in the world, but then life happens. The daily task, the needs of others, and our own routines present challenges that we need to meet with creative solutions. What physical activity do you want to do today? How will you accomplish it? The information in this section gets down to the nitty-gritty: evidence-based negotiation Strategies that will set you up for sustainable success and keep you there.

Michelle Segar, No Sweat

A NEXT STEP

Do you believe it’s possible to undertake an exercise routine that doesn’t require sit-ups, burpees, and a daily trip to a fitness center?

Do you believe that exercise is more like a chore, something you are doing because you should do it? Or, do you believe exercise can be something you are already doing in your normal, everyday routines?

Review the author’s concepts above as an introduction to incorporating physical movement into your life as a part of a daily lifestyle, not a forced regimen. Answer these questions in your own words and then seek the Lord’s direction on the healthy, beneficial next steps.

  • What does exercise mean to me? Don’t answer from the messages surrounding us everyday of the latest exercise fad or “guaranteed” system to lose inches off your waistline. The Meanings we attached to ideas and concepts powerfully influence our motivations for doing something.
  • What are the physical activities that motivate me toward movement? It’s okay to step outside the gym or get off the fitness machine to uncover new ways to exercise. You will benefit from any activity in which you choose to move in ways you like and that fit into your day.
  • What will I change to give myself permission to make my own health a priority? When you do, the sense of feeling better every day provides the fuel for self-care behavior like physical activity. Maybe it’s time to stop letting your calendar undermine your health. It is after all, your calendar.
  • How am I willing to experiment with new strategies and attitudes to overcome the challenges to developing a new, counter-intuitive approach to exercise? When you are able to do that, you will find yourself in a learning process that has application to other areas of your life, not just exercise.

 

Are you ready to start your journey to a healthier life? Is it time to make some changes? Go ahead – make the commitment!

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 27-3, released November 2015.

 


 

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

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

 

The Rebirth of Aesthetics

aes – thet – ics – (noun) a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty

An idea is only an intention until it has been perfected, polished, and produced.

– Marty Neumeier

According to Marty Neumeier, Director of Transformation at the Liquid Agency, the same principles that activate other forms of art will soon become essential to the art of leadership. The more technological our culture becomes, the more we’ll need the sensual and metaphorical power of beauty.

aesthetics

Take a look at the chart below, and see how the aesthetics of the single word on the left inspires your curiosity of leadership through the questions on the right.

The Aesthetics of Leadership

Contrast – How can we differentiate ourselves?

Depth –  How can we succeed on many levels?

Focus – What should we NOT do?

Harmony – How can we achieve synergy?

Integrity – How can we forge the parts into a whole?

Line – What is our trajectory over time?

Motion – What advantage can we gain from speed?

Novelty – How can we use the surprise element?

Order – How should we structure our organization?

Pattern – Where have we seen this before?

Repetition – Where are the economies of scale?

Rhythm – How can we optimize time?

Proportion – How can we keep our strategy balanced?

Scale – How big should our organization be?

Shape – Where should we draw the edges?

Texture – How do details enliven our culture?

Unity – What is the higher-order solution?

Variety – How can diversity drive innovation?

What beautiful thing are you creating in your organization today?

When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

– Buckminster Fuller

inspired by and adapted from Marty Neumeier’s The Designful Company

The Designful Company

How Do You Get Dreamers and Doers on the Same Page?

Most pastors will invest more time on preaching preparation for the next month than they will on vision communication for the next five years. How about you?

That quick experiment is a great way to introduce a special two-part SUMS Remix devoted to the visionary planning problems you must solve.

Will Mancini, founder of Auxano and author of God Dreams, has never had a pastor disagree with him about the simple time analysis above. Most quickly nod with agreement, and understand that something is not quite right about it.

Of the many reasons (let’s be honest… excuses) given, one of the most important is that no one has shown the pastor how to spend time on vision planning. That’s what God Dreams is designed to do. Central to the book’s process is the Horizon Storyline, a tool leaders can use to connect short-term action steps with the long-range dream, while leveraging the power of storytelling to make the plan stick.

Vision Planning Problem #4: People who like to dream and people who like to execute are rarely on the same page. 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Sprint, by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

From three partners at Google Ventures, a unique five-day process for solving tough problems, proven at more than a hundred companies.

Entrepreneurs and leaders face big questions every day: What’s the most important place to focus your effort, and how do you start? What will your idea look like in real life? How many meetings and discussions does it take before you can be sure you have the right solution?

Now there’s a surefire way to answer these important questions: the sprint. Designer Jake Knapp created the five-day process at Google, where sprints were used on everything from Google Search to Google X. He joined Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky at Google Ventures, and together they have completed more than a hundred sprints with companies in mobile, e-commerce, healthcare, finance, and more.

A practical guide to answering critical business questions, Sprint is a book for teams of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s, from teachers to nonprofits. It’s for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.

Solution #4: The Horizon Storyline will bring your dreamers and doers together around one vision.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION 

The fact that most primary leaders in the church communicate for a living amplifies this problem. Sermon development is intuitive, creative, and idea-oriented. It’s often hard to get conceptual thinkers like that sitting down with the operational leaders who manage, budget, and make decision after decision, day after day. These two staff functions usually pass like ships in the night hardly recognizing the other is present.

Entrepreneurs and leaders face big questions every day: What’s the most important place to focus your effort, and how do you start? What will your idea look like in real life? How many meetings and discussions does it take before you can be sure you have the right solution?

Good ideas are hard to find. And even the best ideas face an uncertain path to real-world success. That’s true whether you’re running a startup, teaching a class, or working inside a large organization.

The sprint is Google Venture’s unique five-day process for answering crucial questions through prototyping and testing ideas with customers. It’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavioral science, design, and more – packaged into a step-by-step process.

Sprint is a DIY guide for running your own sprint to answer your pressing business questions. On Monday, you’ll map out the problem and pick an important place to focus. On Tuesday, you’ll sketch competing solutions on paper. On Wednesday, you’ll make difficult decisions and turn your ideas into a testable hypothesis. On Thursday, you’ll hammer out a realistic prototype. And on Friday, you’ll test it with real live humans.

Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz, Sprint 

A NEXT STEP

The sprint, as outlined in the book of the same name, is a five-day process for answering tough questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas. First developed at Google Ventures, it’s now been used by hundreds of organizations around the world.

The sprint process is a literal “greatest hits” of strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking – packaged into a one-week process.

When your team takes on the process of a sprint, you can shortcut the endless debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. It’s almost like having a team superpower: you will be able to fast-forward into the future to see the finished “product” – without having to make expensive commitments of resources.

Gather your team together and watch this video to help set the stage for the process.

It will be helpful for you to review this DIY page prior to this session.

Set the stage for the Sprint Process by downloading the kickoff PDF. Review it and be comfortable enough to lead the session as noted.

Download the Sprint Checklists and review the first three pages, “Setting the Stage” and “Supplies.”

Choose a big picture vision and use the Sprint Process with your team.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 47-4, August 2016.

 


 

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

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

The Playground of the Designer: Working in the Space Between Logic and Magic

ChurchWorld leaders need to think like designers.

Before you rule that out by saying you’re not creative, consider the following thoughts, adapted from The Designful Company by Marty Neumeier.

The easiest way to understand the design process is to see how it differs from the traditional organizational processes you are used to. Most decision-making processes used in churches today were derived from the business world. Those processes came from the early management theory developed as the Industrial Age hit its stride. Those processes emphasized two main activities: knowing and doing. Leaders and organizations would analyze a problem, look to a standard box of options – actions that had been proven to work in the past – and then execute the solution. The traditional church organization is all head and legs. 

The designful organization inserts a third activity: making.

Leaders still need to analyze the problem (knowing), but they then “make” a new set of options, and then execute that solution (doing). By inserting making between knowing and doing, leaders can bring an entirely different way of working to the problem. The head and legs are improved by adding a pair of hands.

In reality, designers don’t actually “solve” problems. They work through them. They use non-logical processes that are difficult to express in words but easier to express in action. They use models, mockups, sketches, and stories as their vocabulary. They experiment and try new things. If they fail, that’s no problem – they’ve just discovered a way that won’t work.

Leader/Designers operate in the space between knowing and doing, prototyping new solutions that arise from four strengths of empathy, intuition, imagination, and idealism (more about this in a future post).

In the meantime, if you are a leader, you should be a designer. But don’t think you are creating a masterpiece right out of the gate. Designing, innovating, making – whatever you call it, it’s a messy, chaotic process.

One that you can’t afford to ignore.

When the great innovation appears, it will almost certainly be in a muddled, incomplete, and confusing form. For any speculation that does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope.     – physicist Freeman Dyson

An organization that automatically jumps from knowing to doing will find that innovation is unavailable to it.

To be innovative, an organization needs not only the head and legs of knowing and doing, but also the intuitive hands of making.

How are you putting hands to work in your church?

inspired by and adapted from The Designful Company, by Marty Neumeier

The Designful Company

Lead Yourself Well to Lead Others Better

It has been said that the people close to us determine our level of success. Moses learned this lesson in the wilderness and so implemented a plan to put competent, godly leaders next to him. David had his mighty men. Paul had Barnabas, John Mark, Timothy, Titus, and Phoebe.

When ministers decide to be leaders, they cross a very important line. They no longer judge themselves solely by what they can do themselves; the truest measure of the impact of a leader is found in what those around them accomplish. In God’s economy, our personal development happens most as we are developing those He has called around us.

THE QUICK SUMMARYThe 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, by Jenni Catron

You have the capacity to become an extraordinary leader—if you are willing to embrace a deeper definition of leadership and take action to apply it.

In The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, Jenni Catron, executive church leader and author of Clout, reveals the secrets to standout leadership found in the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Weaving a winsome narrative filled with inspiring real-life stories, hard-won wisdom, and practical applications, Catron unpacks four essential aspects of growing more influential: your heart for relational leadership, your soul for spiritual leadership, your mind for managerial leadership, and your strength for visionary leadership.

Leadership isn’t easy, but it is possible to move from ordinary to extraordinary. Jenni Catron shows the way. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Look at almost any definition of a leader, and it will include something about others: influencing them, directing their work, guiding their development. And while this is true, leaders must remember that the first priority of a leader is to lead yourself.

Leaders like to lead. And when we say we like to lead, we usually mean we like to lead others, right? But if you can’t lead yourself well, you will be ill equipped to lead others.

Part of the responsibility of leadership is understanding your influence on others. Leadership is only as strong as the leader. And that responsibility, if you’re grasping the weight of it, is the reason why your leadership journey must begin with leading yourself well.

Self-leadership is a willingness to make yourself uncomfortable in order to lead yourself and others to bigger dreams and greater goals. It requires the humility of introspection. Many leaders skip over self-leadership because the discomfort of facing their own limitations is frightening enough to discourage them before they’ve even begun.

Jenni Catron, The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership 

A NEXT STEP

The centerpiece of Jenni Catron’s book is based on the fundamental biblical truth found in Mark 12:28-30, commonly known as the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Using this scripture as a foundation, Catron develops a multi-dimensional leadership model that requires leading from our whole selves – heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As noted in the quotations above, Catron feels that first learning to lead yourself is a critical foundation of influence. With this model in mind, set aside time to inventory yourself in each area.

You will find the self-assessment described in the book in an online version listed in the Recommended Resources below, but first, reflect on these questions developed from the book.

Heart – Relational Leadership

  • How are you connecting with those you lead?
  • Do you know their stories and what inspires them?

Soul – Spiritual Leadership

  • What does spiritual formation look like for you?
  • When do you most feel like you’re experiencing spiritual growth?

Mind – Managerial Leadership

  • What systems do you have in place to instill disciplines that transform ideas into accomplishments?
  • How do you demonstrate stewardship in making good, consistent decisions about how to best manage your resources?
  • What principles do you follow in creating a culture of accountability for yourself?

Strength – Visionary Leadership

  • How strong do you feel about the vision you’re working toward?
  • Is there anything you need to do to help own it more?

Once you spend time taking this inventory, prioritize three actions to take in the next three months, with specific and measurable markers of success.

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 44-3, July 2016


 

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

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

Effective Collaboration Requires Separating Critical and Creative Thinking

Effective teams do not just agree on vision, they own it and align every ounce of energy and effort toward accomplishing the vision. As a leader, you can sense the difference between your team liking the vision and your team leading toward vision.

In most instances, simple agreement feels like an invisible wall sits somewhere within the team. A divide of mistrust, misunderstanding, or missed input often exists in the origination of the vision. This always leads to misalignment and missed opportunity in the execution of vision.

Every busy week brings a fresh truckload of glass bricks for your team to stack on this invisible wall. No one has ill motives. No one intends cement separation, but the walls go up without conscious notice as the pace of ministry continues.

The good news is that it’s NOT rocket science to take down a wall. Haven’t you noticed it’s easier (and usually more fun) to demolish than it is to build? What your team needs are sledgehammers to take down these hard-to-see barriers.

How do you tear down your team’s invisible walls? To help your team build ownership and collaboration at the source of your vision, learn to separate critical and creative thinking.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Hatch! by C. McNair Wilson

Most Corporate Brainstorming Isn’t Brainstorming… not even close. (Usually what’s going on is playful arguing with snacks on the table.)

McNair Wilson spent a decade inside Disney – mostly at Disney Imagineering designing theme parks. His teams hatched so many ideas he was invited to teach his methods through Disney University. His “7 Agreements of Brainstorming” will assist your team in launching world-class products, services, and programs. You will create competition-crushing concepts using brainstorming that works! (And you can keep the snacks on the table.)

Whatever’s next for your organization, why not make it best? HATCH! is a highly entertaining book filled with the author’s witty drawings and scores of examples of McNair’s 7 Agreements in use by big corporations and small non-profits.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The problem with brainstorming is that everyone thinks they already do it.

The reality is that nobody knows how to brainstorm anymore. It’s not your colleagues’ fault – or yours. Nobody knows how to brainstorm anymore because it is likely every model we have seen contains significant roadblocks to actual innovation.

Far too often, the “way you’ve always done it” is the wrong way – the least productive and the most frustrating.

According to former Disney Imagineer C. McNair Wilson, real brainstorming is both fun to do and very productive- all at the same time.

Done right, brainstorming produces amazing results because “we are smarter than me.”

Start your brainstorming by separating Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking. Both must be done, but they must be done separately if anything of lasting value will be accomplished.

Creative thinking is idea generating, imagining, wondering out loud, dreaming, “what-iffing.” The decidedly different activity of Critical Thinking is not so much thinking negatively as it is thinking with analysis, focus, intentionality, and purpose.

You will have made huge strides toward powerful Creative Thinking once your team embraces and agrees to this important distinction: Creative and Critical Thinking are not part of the same activity and do not, cannot, must not occur simultaneously. It doesn’t work. They cannot occupy the same space. They are the beginning and end of the process whether it is five minutes or five months. Folding them together means doing neither activity effectively. And it is not brainstorming.

You cannot be fully, actively, creative if you are simultaneously thinking critically.

It is vital that you learn to postpone judgment, evaluation, and analysis until you and your team get everything out of your head and up on the wall. You are hatching a plan. Every chicken, eventually, leaves the egg. During Creative Thinking you are offering thought fragments, whims, notions, doodles, bits, and pieces.

The key to Creative Thinking is to learn not to care. That is to say, get to a point where you learn not to care of your ideas make sense, are possible, or if they fit into the project budget. You will care about all that later. This is true for all the ideas that flash through your mind during Creative Thinking.

  • Don’t deliberate, divulge.
  • Don’t analyze, add.
  • Don’t decide, confide.
  • Don’t edit, say it.

You cannot possibly know when a tiny, fleeting thought will be just the spark to ignite a bonfire of creativity in other team members.

C. McNair Wilson, Hatch

A NEXT STEP

Auxano developed a team collaboration tool that we use with every church team. The Collaboration Cube specifically addresses this need for separation between creative and critical thinking.

The Cube is built around the three modes of good collaboration: Blue Sky, Discuss/Challenge, and Decide/ Commit. Each mode represents the ground rules for how the team is interacting at any given time. A facilitator, team leader, or team member can use the Cube to signal a shift or recommend a change of the team’s mode.

Blue Sky mode is the classic brainstorming time where it is critical to generate a great volume of ideas while delaying judgment or critique. The basic principle of creativity is that great ideas are generated through many ideas. While many teams are familiar with the general idea of brainstorming, few practice it, because of the discipline required to suspend judgment, or Critical Thinking. Use the Cube to strengthen this mode of Creative Thinking.

Discuss/Challenge is the default mode where four Critical Thinking roles are put into play and where feedback and pushback are openly discussed. Discuss/ Challenge is the dominant mode that occurs during collaboration. Remember, each role is a default style that each team member tends to play, but during collaboration, each person can pass in and out of each role as collaboration progresses to Decide/Commit.

Decide/Commit is the mode signaled by the facilitator when moving toward a consensus decision or clarifying final action steps. In this mode a leader is able to “land the plane” on the meeting or session. This is the time when the facilitator or leader senses that enough dialogue and “ah-ha moments” have occurred to move toward a meaningful conclusion. When it comes time to Decide/Commit and you poll your team, use this definition of consensus: “Consensus is not when 80% of people feel 100% good about an idea; consensus is when 100% of the team feels 80% good about an idea.”

Visit collaborationcube.com to learn more and to purchase Cubes for your team.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 50-3, issued September 2016.


 

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

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