At some point in the future, you will be going to a Chick-fil-A restaurant that looks and works a lot different from the one you are familiar with today. It might even have different menu items, or the food might taste a little different.
The Chick-fil-A restaurant of the next decade already exists, but you will only find it inside HATCH, Chick-fil-A’s Innovation and Learning Center located on their Atlanta campus.
I have been fortunate to be part of a group learning session at the Innovation Center. This 80,000 square foot facility located near the company’s headquarters is dedicated to helping the company invent its way forward. Inside Nest, the Pen, and other cleverly named spaces, CFA is building the next generation of customer experiences and the capabilities that make it possible.
The session gave me a front-row seat where corporate innovation is headed and allowed interaction with CFA leaders on how innovation and creativity are solidly in the center of their company culture.
Launched in late 2012, HATCH is aimed at strengthening the customer experience, the brand, and enriching the company’s culture.
In a converted warehouse, restaurant operators, researchers, designers, and staff gather to collaborate and develop whatever the Chick-fil-A brand and its customers need next. Space is divided into cleverly named work areas:
- Feeder – cafeteria
- Nest – learning spaces
- Coop – working prototype restaurants
- Incubator – collaboration area
- Pen – work spaces for architects and designers
This award-winning space has been purposely designed to foster the interchange of ideas and new opportunities for people who work in different areas of the company to get to know each other.
HATCH even includes a virtual simulator, which is used to very inexpensively prototype new restaurant concepts, technologies, and even kitchen operations. During my session, one of our team donned a headset and experienced the 3D world of a new store concept while the rest of us were able to observe what he was viewing on a 2D screen in the room.
What can ChurchWorld leaders learn from Chick-fil-A and their HATCH Innovation Center?
It’s unlikely that any church would invest a fraction of the resources that Chick-fil-A has on innovation, but that doesn’t mean innovation is beyond the reach of churches.
Larry Osborne is Senior Pastor at North Coast Church near San Diego, CA. North Coast is widely recognized as one of the most influential and innovative churches in America, and Osborne’s book Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret provides a wealth of information that church leaders who want to be innovative in ministry can easily access.
Early in the book, Osborne states that many churches have a natural tendency to protect the past at the cost of the future. His solution: Find ways to identify and release the gifted innovators in your midst.
It’s like creating a mini-HATCH environment in your church.
Osborne thinks that in order to identify these types of innovators in your midst, you must first understand how they think and see the world. He has identified 3 telltale traits that set them apart from others:
- A special kind of insight – an uncanny knack for predicting what will work and what won’t work and how large groups of people will respond to new ideas.
- A unique form of courage – the ability to take carefully calculated risks by trusting their carefully crafted mental models of what could be.
- Extraordinary flexibility – the ability to quickly turn on a dime; a master of mid-course correction.
If you’re going to innovate in ministry, you will have to find ways to identify the fledgling innovators in your church and then find ways to support some of their seemingly crazy ideas.
Like the chicken sandwich…
A quick note: I will be returning to the HATCH Innovation Center in a few days as a part of a networking group learning experience. Look for an update soon!
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