Leaders Paint a Bold, Inspiring Vision for the Future

Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. military accelerated the ongoing and gradual process of searching for the best people available to lead – regardless of sex. As a result, female career military officers began to advance into very visible leadership roles: the first female combat pilot in the U.S. Navy, the first female in U.S. history to command in combat at the strategic level, and the first woman in U.S. military history to assume the rank of a four-star general.

They didn’t want to be “female leaders”—they just wanted to lead.

These women were wives, daughters, mothers and sisters. But they were also military leaders, warriors, academics and mentors in their own right.

As the military has evolved to develop an appreciation for the potential of women to serve in the most challenging of positions, it is also time for the American public to see these women for what they bring to the fight: brains, strength and courage.

They are leaders.

No one does leader development better than the military. Behind winning our nation’s wars, its primary purpose is to develop leaders. This happens through organized leader development programs, like institutional schooling and courses, but mostly through personal interaction and example. It’s the unit-level leaders out there who are making the critical impact in our armed forces.

Falling in the period around Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May) and Memorial Day (the last Monday in May), this SUMS Remix honors three female leaders who demonstrated principles of leadership development that all leaders will find helpful in leading their own organizations.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Fearless Leadership by Carey D. Lohrenz

An F-14 fighter pilot’s top lessons for leading fearlessly – and bringing a team to peak performance

As an aviation pioneer, Carey D. Lohrenz learned what fearless leadership means in some of the most demanding and extreme environments imaginable: the cockpit of an F-14 and the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Here, her teams had to perform at their peak – or lives were on the line. Faltering leadership was simply unacceptable. Through these experiences, Lohrenz identified a fundamental truth: high-performing teams require fearless leaders.

Since leaving the Navy, she’s translated that lesson into a new field, helping top business leaders, from Fortune 500 executives to middle managers, supercharge performance in today’s competitive business environments.

In Fearless Leadership, Lohrenz walks you through the three fundamentals of real fearlessness–courage, tenacity, and integrity–and then reveals fearless leadership in action, offering advice on how to set a bold vision, bring the team together, execute effectively, and stay resilient through hard times.

Whether you’re stepping into your first leadership role or looking to get out of a longstanding rut, Fearless Leadership will act like your afterburner–rocketing you to ever-higher levels of performance.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The primary work of nourishing people with vision is discovering and communicating that unique identity as a church. Many leaders photocopy a vision from a conference or book and then wonder why more people don’t flock to the to that vision. Do your people really want a vision based on another church’s values?

Never forget that God is always doing something cosmically significant and locally specific in your church.

A nourishing vision requires five courses. As you deliver the five-part meal, you’re really addressing the irreducible question of clarity people need. If you have not thought through all five aspects of your church’s vision, people won’t be able to really access it.

The five questions play out as follows: At our church…

  • What are we ultimately supposed to be doing?
  • Why do we do it?
  • How do we do it?
  • When are we successful?
  • Where is God taking us?

If you asked these clarity questions to the top 40 leaders in your church, what would they say? If they don’t have a clear, concise and compelling answer that’s the same answer, it’s time to go to work.

A fearless leader begins the work of leadership with a bold vision.

The vision you create and hand down to your people is going to be the cornerstone of your team’s success. It all starts with a clear concept, a view of where you want to go. If your vision is limited, your potential and possibilities are, too.

The very essence of leadership is the ability to create a picture of success and bring people toward it. Your vision gives the team a universal understanding of who you are, as both an individual and a leader within the organization; who they are as members of the team; and where the group is headed. It’s a chart to our destination, providing a steady compass to orient your team. And when the sea gets rough, the vision allows you to navigate the challenges and come out ahead.

If you don’t have the courage to set the vision, the tenacity to keep after it, and the integrity to pursue it authentically, your team is going to be dead in the water.

Clear vision is not just wishful thinking. It’s more than simply imagining what you hope the future will be. It’s an incredible tool that catalyzes your team, gives it purpose and focus, sustains it in challenging times, and helps it perform at the highest level. You and your team have to see yourself accomplishing that dream without losing your way or getting distracted. The right vision can make that possible.

Carey D. Lohrenz, Fearless Leadership

A NEXT STEP

Set aside time to reflect and answer the following questions. Circle “Yes” or “No” – don’t dwell on the question, but answer it without too much thought.

Dreaming and Achieving Pop Quiz

  1. When people talk about the future of our church, is there an immediate sense of enthusiasm? Yes / No
  2. Have we named a shared dream within a five-year timeframe? Yes / No
  3. Do our volunteer leaders regularly pray for some specific yet epic impact that our church will make in our city or community? Yes / No
  4. Do most of our leaders naturally talk about “the big picture” of the church before they talk about their ministry area? Yes / No
  5. Do we have several days already calendared in the next year to review and reset a visionary plan? Yes / No
  6. Has our team boiled down the single-most important priority for our ministry in the next 12 months? Yes / No
  7. Are we totally confident that our team is taking action and reviewing ministry progress each week? Yes / No
  8. In the last five years, did we have a church-wide, disciple-making goal that was not related to money? Yes / No
  9. Has our team written down what our ministry will preferably look like three years from now? Yes / No
  10. Has our senior pastor spent as much time on preparing a visionary plan as he/she has spent on preparing the last four sermons? Yes / No

After you have completed the above questions, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many “no’s” did we circle collectively?
  2. What was the easiest “no” to circle?
  3. What was the easiest “yes” to circle?
  4. What was the most frustrating “no” to circle?
  5. Are you excited about taking some time as a team to work on our church’s big dream? Why or why not?
  6. Is there any reason why we shouldn’t be able to answer “yes” to these questions after a few months of work?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 93, released May 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<<

Share Your Vision by Leading Down the Inspiration Pathway

Never static, vision is always evolving. Like a sequence of smaller mountains that give view to larger mountains on reaching the summit, today’s new accomplishments give view to tomorrow’s possibilities.

Vision is a living language: a treasure chest of phrases, ideas, metaphors, and stories. The beauty of a treasure chest like this is that your whole team can put words and dreams into it, and the entire leadership can pick ideas and stories out of it.

What does your vision treasure chest contain? Does it need some more loot inside in order for you to articulate your vision in powerful and captivating ways?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Inspiration Code by Kristi Hedges

Great leaders inspire action with their words. They spark enthusiasm and commitment. With a single conversation, they can change the direction of someone’s life.

Everyone wants to be the kind of leader who energizes and mobilizes others yet too few are. Why is it so challenging to crack the code?

Executive coach Kristi Hedges spent years studying exactly what inspiring leaders do differently. Informed by quantitative research and thousands of responses from leaders at all levels, she reveals that inspiring communication isn’t about grand gestures. Instead, those who motivate us most do a few things routinely, consistently, and intentionally.

Eye opening and accessible, The Inspiration Code dispels common myths about how leaders communicate and guides them in cultivating qualities that authentically excite.

Inspired companies need inspirational leaders. Learn to unlock motivation, lift people’s’ sights, and lead them into the future.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Lead Down the Inspiration Pathway

A vision should never be designed to be read. What would have happened to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech if he made it a PowerPoint presentation, or decided to just send out flyers?

People do not follow words – they follow you!

The vision cannot be separated from the vision caster, and the vision caster cannot separate his message from his life as a model.

Communicating your vision with clarity and inspiration can be accomplished, but you’ve got to move – you need to lead others down the inspiration pathway.

Inspiration Pathway conversations happen when we communicate in a way that is present, personal, passionate, and purposeful. These four factors greatly enhance our inspirational effect.

I call this model a “path” because it’s a passage with movement, both for the one inspiring and the one being inspired.

When we are inspiring, we are:

Present: We’re focused on the person in front of us, not distracted by the swirl of day, visibly stressed, or beholden to our agenda. We keep an open mind and let conversations flow. People who inspire us are both physically and mentally available to us. They focus on us. They give us the gift of time, and just as important, the gift of their attention.

Personal: We’re authentic and real, and listen generously. We notice what’s true about others and help them find their potential. Authenticity seems to fly in the face of the impassiveness we’ve been trained to adopt at work. But people look to you to see how much you care, and this shapes how much they will care.

Passionate: We infuse energy, and manage this as one of our greatest tools. We blend logic and emotion, and show conviction through our presence. People who are passionate enthusiasts for what they do create passion in others.

Purposeful: We are intentional. We are willing to serve as role models and engage in courageous discussions about purpose. A purpose that ignites us is personal. It’s less about a vision outside of us, and more about the vision we possess inside. Helping someone find that internal spark of purpose, or reignite it, is a transformational act.

Kristi Hedges, The Inspiration Code

A NEXT STEP

In order to lead others down the inspiration pathway, you will need to prepare yourself first. Calendar your next visionary presentation; it could even be your message this Sunday! Set aside two-three hours in an off-site location, get comfortable, and work through the author’s four elements of inspiration by thinking through and implementing the following:

Present

  • When we give another person our full attention versus our divided attention, the conversation changes. To be fully present to the conversation, eliminate distractions, use a reflective pause, get curious, and show receptive body language.
  • When we’re in a state of overwhelm, we’re not inspiring anyone. People’s natural instinct is to distance themselves from someone who seems frenetic. Challenge your current assumptions before jumping to try new strategies.
  • We can’t open someone else’s mind if ours is closed. When you cultivate an open mind, we create a learning space that allows others to expand their own thinking.

Personal

  • Though counterintuitive, showing authenticity is something we can work on. We’re adaptively authentic, where we learn new behaviors and integrate them into our own way of being.
  • Inspiring corporate visions are conversations about potential on a large scale. They tell the organization that it can achieve more because it’s capable of being more.
  • Deep, focused listening is a key inspirational skill, but it’s harder than it looks. Most people focus on hearing rather than on understanding. It takes effort, but you can become a better listener by understanding the listening environment.

Passionate

  • Energy is a primary way that we convey passion. Energy is a tool we can harness and cultivate to great effect. To do so, first know what gives you energy about your message, sync that up with your audience, and display your passion verbally and nonverbally.
  • There is no passion without emotion, and any attempt to convey such comes across unconvincing or deceptive. Being strategic and authentic with our emotions in our communication helps us to inspire others.
  • To show conviction, focus on aligning your nonverbal behaviors with your words, and both with your intent. This helps your body and mind to work together to show up with clarity.

Purposeful

  • Having a purpose is linked to inspiration and intrinsic motivation. People are inspired by something, and when you engage others in purpose, you create the impetus.
  • To continually refresh your sense of purpose, inspire yourself by surrounding yourself with a personal board of advisors as role models, and by taking risks toward your purpose.
  • Courageous leadership requires clear choices, saying no to some opportunities to be able to say yes to others.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 85-2, released January 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 Communicate Your Vision: Create Stories that Reflect Experience

There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, and achievable vision of the future, widely shared.

– Burt Nanus

The right vision for the future of an organization moves people to action, and because of their action, the organization evolves and makes process. Like a bicycle, an organization must continually move forward, or fall over. The role of vision in driving the organization forward is indispensable.

The vision’s power lies in its ability to grab the attention of those both inside and outside the organization and to focus that attention on a common dream – a sense of direction that both makes sense and provides direction.

To that end, your church’s vision cannot exist merely as words on a page or website, or in an impressive visual display in your church foyer.

Articulating your vision through consistent and powerful ideas is one of the toughest tasks of leadership.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, by Annette Simmons

Stories have tremendous power. They can persuade, promote empathy, and provoke action. Better than any other communication tool, stories explain who you are, what you want…and why it matters. In presentations, department meetings, over lunch any place you make a case for new customers, more business, or your next big idea you’ll have greater impact if you have a compelling story to relate.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins will teach you to narrate personal experiences as well as borrowed stories in a way that demonstrates authenticity, builds emotional connections, inspires perseverance, and stimulates the imagination. Fully updated and more practical than ever, the second edition reveals how to use storytelling to:

  • Capture attention
  • Motivate listeners
  • Gain trust
  • Strengthen your argument
  • Sway decisions
  • Demonstrate authenticity and encourage transparency
  • Spark innovation
  • Manage uncertainty

Complete with examples, a proven storytelling process and techniques, innovative applications, and a new appendix on teaching storytelling, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins hands you the tools you need to get your message across and connect successfully with any audience.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Organizations run on numbers, facts, forecasts, and processes. If that sounds dull and unengaging, it’s because those factors are not what really drive our passion and desire to excel, to lead, or to sink our hearts and souls into the work we do. Ultimately, the kind of transformative results that can come only from enriched, passionate people depend on a distinctly human element – storytelling.

The power of even a simple story to affirm someone’s connection to your organization’s people, values, and vision can mean the difference between simple competence and fully realized ownership. Your stories help people feel more engaged and alive.

Story can be defined as a reimagined experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listener’s imaginations to experience it as real.

You are already telling stories about who you are, why you are here, and what you envision, value, teach, and think about. The problem is, you haven’t realized how much your stories matter. To help us pay attention, let’s look at the six kinds of stories we tell that lead to influence, imagination, and innovation.

Who-I-Am Stories

What qualities earn you the right to influence a particular person? Tell of a time, place, or event that provides evidence you have these qualities.

Why-I-Am-Here Stories

When someone assumes you are there to sell an idea that will cost him or her money, time, or resources, it immediately discredits your “facts” as biased.

Teaching Stories

Certain lessons are best learned from experience, and some lessons are learned over and over again. It’s better to tell a story that creates a shared experience.

Vision Stories

A worthy, exciting future story reframes present difficulties as “worth it.”

Value-in-Action Stories

Values are subjective. Hypothetical situations sound hypocritical.

I-Know-What-You-Are Thinking Stories

People like to stay safe. It is a trust-building surprise for you to share their secret suspicions in a story that first validates then dispels these objections without sounding defenseless.

When you turn your attention to the six kinds of stories, you will be more intentional in creating the kind of perceptions that achieve goals rather than reinforce problems.

Annette Simmons, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins

A NEXT STEP

People are starving for meaningful stories, while we are surrounded by impersonal messages dressed in bells and whistles that are story-ish but are not effective. People want to feel a human presence in your messages, to taste a trace of humanity that proves there is a “you” as sender. Learning how to tell personal stories teaches you how to deliver the sense of humanity in the messages you send.

Schedule some time where you can be alone to complete the following exercise.

Imagine you are stranded alone on a desert island. You have six slips of paper, a pencil, and six bottles. If you could communicate one thing by using each of the six story types listed above that would inspire your church for the future, what would it be and how would you say it?

Write each of the six “messages” on a separate sheet of paper, then roll them up to create scrolls. Insert each message in a separate bottle.

At your next team meeting, read each message aloud, and discuss it as a group.

Ask each team member to repeat the process on his or her own over the next month.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 84-1, issued January 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<<

Why It’s Always Time to Go Back to the Drawing Board

…a memo from Walt Disney, December 23, 1935, to Don Graham, Disney artist and teacher of animation classes to studio artists

Right after the holidays I want to get together with you and work out a very systematic training course for young animators, and also outline a plan of approach for our older animators.

The following occurs to me as a method of procedure:

Take the most recent pictures – minutely analyze all the business, action, and results, using the better pieces of animation as examples, going thru the picture with these questions in mind:

What was the idea to be presented?

How was the idea presented?

What result was achieved?

After seeing this result – what could have been done to the picture from this point on, to improve it?


 

To put that quote in context, by the early 1930s Walt Disney had built a successful cartoon studio and an empire on the shoulders of Mickey Mouse – but to make the leap from shorts to a feature film, he knew his artists had to develop further.

 

In the beginning, Walt himself drove his artists to the nearby Chouinard Art Institute, then expanded that educational effort by building his own in-house art school like none other.

The following quotes from Walt Disney put his actions into perspective:

The first thing I did when I got a little money to experiment, I put all my artists back in school. The art school that existed then didn’t quite have enough for what we needed, so we set up our own art school.

It was costly to set up training classes, but I had to have the men ready for things we would eventually do.

Walt Disney had a vision to do what no one had done before, and he knew that vision required resources that didn’t exist.

He didn’t give up – he created everything to complete his vision: actions that required invention, patents, training, and unbounded passion.

As a leader, what vision do you have? What resources do you need to bring that vision to reality – even the ones that don’t exist?

Do you need to create a culture of learning?


 

Before Ever After is a treasury of rare and unpublished lecture notes, photographs and drawings which reflect the culture of learning that Walt Disney curated to raise the level of his artists in preparation for their first feature: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt hand-picked instructors from the renowned Chouinard Art Institute to hold classes on action and drawing.  He screened films for study.  He brought in talent from Architect Frank Lloyd Wright to choreographer George Balanchine to humorist Alexander Woollcott to teach and inspire his team.  The result is a stunning collection of transcripts and history which not only lay the artistic foundation for the animated art form, but also give us an intimate look inside the walls of Walt Disney’s studio during a seminal and profoundly creative moment in time.

From the authors:

To help rekindle the spirit of that time, we chose to share these transcripts in exactly their original form, printed on animation paper to be distributed to the crew. It is a treasure of artistic information and a series of historic document that should inspire artists, historians, and Disney fans alike, evoking the culture of learning that existed in a time when art, technology, and passion collided inside the gates of the Disney Studio.

 

inspired by Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Walt Disney’s Animation Studio, by Don Hahn and Tracey Miller-Zarneke

 

 

Leaders Forecast the Future

Do you feel like most days you are running on a ministry treadmill? You know the feeling – it’s when the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life as a leader. The sheer immediacy of each next event or ministry demand prevents you from taking the time to look to the future horizon – and sometimes even today’s calendar – until it crashes in on you.

All too often, today’s demands can choke out the needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity accomplishes little of value and prevents you from ministry with a clear sense of what God has called you to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Signals Are Talking, by Amy Webb

Amy Webb is a noted futurist who combines curiosity, skepticism, colorful storytelling, and deeply reported, real-world analysis in this essential book for understanding the future. The Signals Are Talking reveals a systemic way of evaluating new ideas bubbling up on the horizon – distinguishing what is a real trend from the merely trendy. This book helps us hear which signals are talking sense, and which are simply nonsense, so that we might know today what developments-especially those seemingly random ideas at the fringe as they converge and begin to move toward the mainstream-that have long-term consequence for tomorrow.

With the methodology developed in The Signals Are Talking, we learn how to think like a futurist and answer vitally important questions: How will a technology-like artificial intelligence, machine learning, self-driving cars, bio hacking, bots, and the Internet of Things – affect us personally? How will it impact our businesses and workplaces? How will it eventually change the way we live, work, play, and think-and how should we prepare for it now?

Most importantly, Webb persuasively shows that the future isn’t something that happens to us passively. Instead, she allows us to see ahead so that we may forecast what’s to come – challenging us to create our own preferred futures.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Forecast the Future

Though it may often seem like it, tomorrow doesn’t arrive fully formed, but develops in measured steps. The tomorrow in question is not a calendar day, but the whole spectrum of actions, activities, and personalities that together make up your future.

No, your tomorrow begins taking shape with seemingly disparate events from all directions around you. They may seem random, but in the right context these points will be discerned first as a fuzzy pattern before developing into a meaningful whole. Before you know it, your future has arrived.

Are you ready for the future? Maybe the bigger question should be, did you see it coming? 

No one should plan for a future she cannot see.

Futurists are skilled at listening to and interpreting the signals talking. It’s a learnable skill, and a process anyone can master. Futurists look for early patterns – pre-trends, if you will – as the scattered points on the fringe converge and begin moving toward the mainstream. They know most patterns will come to nothing, and so they watch and wait and test the patterns to find those few that will evolve into genuine trends.

Each trend is a looking glass into the future, a way to see over time’s horizon. The advantage of forecasting the future win this way is obvious. Organizations that can see trends early enough to take action have first-mover influence. But they can also help to inform and shape the broader context, conversing and collaborating with those in other fields to plan ahead.

One of the reasons you don’t recognize this moment in time as an era of great transformation is because it’s hard to recognize change. The pace of change has accelerated, as we are exposed to and adopt new technologies with greater enthusiasm and voracity each year.

Forecasting the future requires a certain amount of mental ambidexterity. Just as a piano player must control her left and right hands as she glides around the keyboard playing, you need to learn how to think in two ways at once – both monitoring what’s happening in the present and thinking how the present relates to the future.

Amy Webb, The Signals Are Talking

A NEXT STEP

Mapping the future for your church begins with identifying early signposts as you look out on the horizon. In order to chart the best way forward, you must understand emerging trends: what they are, what they aren’t, and how they operate.

Amy Webb has developed a six-part process that can help you forecast the future. These six steps were developed during a decade of research at the Future Today Institute.

  1. Find the Fringe – Make observations and harness information from the fringes of society or a particular area. What can you observe about the groups of people in your church that might look or act different from the majority? What motivates or demotivates them?
  2. Use CIPER – Uncover hidden patterns by searching for Contradictions, Inflections, Practices, Hacks, Extremes, and Rarities. Are there any “unwritten” rules at your church in parking, arrival time, or ministry patterns that tell a story?
  3. Ask the Right Questions – Determine if whether a pattern is really a trend.
  4. Calculate the ETA – Ensure that the timing is right for the trend and for your organization.
  5. Write Scenarios – Scenarios inform the strategy you will create to take the necessary action on a trend. Talk through any changes that you might make as a result of the discoveries above. What complications and opportunities emerge as you think through the impact on the congregation.
  6. Pressure-Test the Future – Are your scenarios comprehensive enough? Is the strategy you’re taking the right one for the future?

Write each one of the six steps above on a separate chart tablet. Set aside three hours with your team to work through the six steps above, answering the question “What is the future of X?” where X is a proposed new ministry initiative.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 64-1, April 2017


 

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.

We Are Freed by Our Choices

During a recent Auxano All-Staff call, Auxano founder Will Mancini brought up a conversation that he, Auxano Managing Officer Jim Randall, and noted church consultant George Bullard had that revolved around a book by Jim Collins – How the Mighty Fall – and its relevance to church and denominational settings today. This post from 2011 came to mind, so I’m reposting it today.


 

Here’s a quiz for you: What does this list of companies have in common? Xerox. Nucor. IBM. Texas Instruments. Pitney Bowes. Nordstrom. Disney. Boeing. HP. Merck.

Every one took at least one tremendous fall at some point in its history and recovered.

In every case, leaders emerged who broke the trajectory of decline and simply refused to give up on the idea of not only survival, but of ultimate triumph despite the most extreme odds.

Churches – and denominations – can go through the same cycle. During a conversation with a pastor today, he asked me what I thought about his church, and by extension, his denomination – in terms of success and failure. The lively discussion that followed reminded me of Jim Collins’ book How the Mighty Fall, ” in which he examines the five stages of decline and comes to a surprising conclusion:

 Circumstances alone do not determine outcomes. We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our setbacks, our history, our mistakes, or even staggering defeats along the way. We are freed by our choices.

The signature of the truly great versus the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty, but the ability to come back from setbacks, even cataclysmic catastrophes, stronger than before. Great nations can decline and recover. Great companies can fall and recover. Great social institutions can fall and recover. And great individuals can fall and recover. As long as you never get entirely knocked out of the game, there remains always hope.

A major source of Collins’ inspirations has been Winston Churchill, a lesson in life of how the mighty fall – and come back stronger than ever. One of his most famous and inspiring speeches occurred in the darkest days of World War II. Collins adapted and expanded it for his closing remarks in “How the Mighty Fall.” With apologies to both Churchill and Collins, here is a modification of that same speech for the church.

Never give in. Be willing to change tactics, but never give up your vision. Be willing to end failed ministry ideas, even to stop doing things you’ve done for a long time, but never give up on the idea of building a great church to reach people for God. Be willing to change the way you do ministry, even to the point of being almost unrecognizable with what you do today, but never give up on the principles that define your church’s vision. Be willing to embrace the inevitability of creative destruction, but never give up on the discipline to create your own future. Be willing to embrace loss, to endure pain, to temporarily lose freedoms, but never give up faith in the ability to prevail for the cause of Christ. Be willing to work together with other churches, to accept necessary compromise in the areas of non-essentials, but never-ever-give up your core vision and values.

Failure is not so much a physical state as a state of mind; success is falling down, and getting up one more time, without end.

 

 

 

 

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.