Tag Archive - create

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The Rules of Innovation

One of the best ways to learn as a church leader is to get outside of the “church-world” and learn from other industries. That kind of exposure challenges your thinking in new ways. It exposes you to different problems that you aren’t facing as well as new solutions that churches aren’t even thinking about.

The other day I had the opportunity to learn from a friend of mine who works in a different industry than the church I serve in. He works for a fast growing, global, world class company that’s known for innovation.

As I listened to him describe his company’s approach to innovation there we some core concepts that were counter intuitive that really stood out to me.

First…Master the Standard

You don’t have the right to innovate until you’ve mastered the existing standard, because otherwise you degrade the standard. In order to innovate you have to begin with a baseline standard. That starting point allows you to begin to improve things, be creative and innovate. In a church you may have a standard way of doing things like checking in kids, new families, or following up on guests. You may have standard expectations in regard to the quality of the worship band, lighting, sound or even the percentage of attenders in a group or engaged in a volunteer team. Innovation in those instances would mean mastering the standard, whatever that is, and then trying new things to improve upon it.

Hyper Standardization AND a Free for All are both Bad for Innovation

Both over standardization and a wild west, no holds barred approach squelch innovation. Innovation for the sake of innovation is a waste of time. There’s plenty of opportunity to innovate against a problem. The best innovations are always for the sake of guests or customers and make things simpler not more complicated.

How it Really Works: 

1. Communicate BEFORE you Innovate
Before you start improving upon the standard always communicate up to your direct report. No boss likes to be surprised and you may find that your boss has different priorities for your time than what you want to innovate.

2. Define the Period of Time that you’ll Run the Test
Be clear about how long you’re going to test this new innovative idea as well as the potential scope of impact.

3. Evaluate Real Results
Conduct an autopsy on the test you ran. What were the net results? Look at both the data and the anecdotes. If it’s not significantly better than the standard, then ditch the idea…it’s not worth chasing.

4. Preserve what Worked and Pivot away from what didn’t
Simply put, have the courage to turn away from ideas that didn’t work, even if you liked the idea, even if it was a good idea. If it didn’t work, then don’t waste your time working it. Preserve what did work significantly better and either work to implement it everywhere or continue to improve upon it.


Posted in Leadership

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4 steps to effective evaluation

Much has been written about the process of evaluation. In fact, some people make a pretty good living off of evaluation and the piles of data that it can produce. Because ministry doesn’t move in slow motion, I don’t always have the time to dig into everything as deep as I may like so I’m always looking for clear, simple, and functional tools for effective evaluation. Below are four simple steps you can use to evaluate just about anything, including a weekend service, an event, a meeting or even a team member.

Step #1: Celebrate

Celebration is often overlooked when it comes to the evaluation process. Our tendency is to dive into what didn’t go right and what can be improved upon. However it’s just as important to know what went right, as it is to know what went wrong.  After all, if you want it to go right again you’ve got to identify what went well, because what gets celebrated gets repeated.

Step #2: Correct

We don’t grow without correction. But correction can range anywhere on the scale from “minor improvements” to something was a “complete failure.” During this part of the process it’s important to be as candid as possible in measuring what happened against what you actually set out to accomplish. You can’t speak “ministerially” when participating in evaluation and get anywhere. Great evaluation is hard to come by without a culture of openness, safety, and candor.

Step #3: Clarify

What was confusing and needs clarification? Maybe you had an incredibly creative element planned into your weekend worship service. It was a great idea but it didn’t fit where you put it and it came off feeling awkward or worse, didn’t align with the message. Maybe communication was confusing in a meeting and it resulted in people walking out with competing agendas. What is the one message, action, or idea that you are trying to align everything to and clearly articulate?

Step #4: Create

This is the one all of the creatives were waiting for. At some point in the process you’ve got to ask yourself, “Was there anything missing?” Is there something that needs to be created and built to make whatever it is you’re evaluating more effective? This is where you’ve come full circle in the evaluative process. You’ve gotten on the solution side of things and you’re now working on implementing the next thing that’s going to be evaluated.

This article first appeared as a guest post I wrote for Creative Junket a Creative Arts Blog run by Rick Calcutt.


Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership