Friday, May 28, 2010

Putting It All In Context

Here's a recap of the past few day's review of Tom Kelley's "Ten Faces of Innovation", a classification of the 10 different personas needed to create a culture of innovation in your organization:

  • The Anthropologist observes human behavior
  • The Experimenter works by constant trial and error
  • The Cross-Pollinator takes new ideas from over the fence
  • The Hurdler never gives up
  • The Collaborator stands in the middle of different groups
  • The Director gets the right people involved
  • The Experience Architect probably used to work for Starbucks
  • The Set Designer designs the best possible environments
  • The Caregiver is focused on people's needs, often anticipating them
  • The Storyteller loves compelling narratives
Think of the ten personas as a toolbox - you seldom need all the tools at once, but the perfect toolbox is one where you use all of them pretty frequently.

Innovation doesn't happen on its own, but with the right team, you're up to the challenge. Innovation doesn't just turn organizations around - it becomes a way of life. It's fun; it's invigorating.

And it works.

If you have all 10 personas on your side, you can drive creativity and build a unique culture of innovation.

What are you waiting for?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Building Persona

Here's the final post of three about Tom Kelley's great book "The Ten Faces of Innovation." Previous posts have looked at Learning and Organizing personas.

The four remaining personas are building roles that apply insights from the learning roles and channel the empowerment from the organizing roles to make innovation happen. When people adopt the building personas, they stamp their mark on your organization. People in these roles are highly visible, so you’ll often find them right at the heart of the action.

  • The Experience Architect is that person relentlessly focused on creating remarkable individual experiences. This person facilitates positive encounters with your organization through products, services, digital interactions, spaces, or events. Whether an architect or a sushi chef, the Experience Architect maps out how to turn something ordinary into something distinctive—even delightful—every chance they get.
  • The Set Designer looks at every day as a chance to liven up their workspace. They promote energetic, inspired cultures by creating work environments that celebrate the individual and stimulate creativity. To keep up with shifting needs and foster continuous innovation, the Set Designer makes adjustments to a physical space to balance private and collaborative work opportunities. In doing so, this person makes space itself one of an organization's most versatile and powerful tools.
  • The Storyteller captures our imagination with compelling narratives of initiative, hard work, and innovation. This person goes beyond oral tradition to work in whatever medium best fits their skills and message: video, narrative, animation, even comic strips. By rooting their stories in authenticity, the Storyteller can spark emotion and action, transmit values and objectives, foster collaboration, create heroes, and lead people and organizations into the future.
  • The Caregiver is the foundation of human-powered innovation. Through empathy, they work to understand each individual customer and create a relationship. Whether a nurse in a hospital, a salesperson in a retail shop, or a teller at an international financial institution, the Caregiver guides the client through the process to provide them with a comfortable, human-centered experience.
What about your organization? Do you have individuals that regularly take on the personas listed above?

Why not?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Organizing Personas

Recap: today's post is the second of three which take a look at Tom Kelley's book "The Ten Faces of Innovation." Monday, the Learning Personas were reviewed. Today, it's the Organizing Personas. For a brief look at all ten, see here.

The organizing roles are played by individuals who are savvy about the often counter intuitive process of how organizations move ideas forward. Kelly found that ideas could not speak for themselves; instead, even the best ideas must continuously compete for time, attention, and resources. It's not just office politics or red tape; it's a complex game of chess, and they play to win.
  • The Hurdler knows the path to innovation is strewn with obstacles and develops a knack for overcoming or outsmarting those roadblocks.
  • The Collaborator helps bring eclectic groups together and often leads from the middle of the pack to create new combinations and multidisciplinary solutions.
  • The Director not only gathers together a talented cast and crew but also helps spark their creative talents.
Every organization, no matter how small or large, has systems of how things get done (or don't). By adopting one of the roles above, members of your team can move ideas and innovations forward.

Facing a daunting task? Stymied by seemingly huge barriers? Become an organizing persona, and make things happen!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Learning Personas

People make innovation happen through their imagination, willpower, and perseverance. The only real path to innovation is through people.

Tom Kelley, one of the founders of the legendary design firm IDEO, developed ten people-centric tools in his book "The Ten Faces of Innovation." By adopting one or more of the roles, your team can explore a different point of view and create a broader range of innovative solutions. Kelley organized the ten roles into three categories: learning, organizing and building. Beginning today and continuing through Wednesday, a brief introduction to the personas, as Kelley calls them. For a quick summary of the personas, see here.

Individuals and organizations need to constantly gather new sources of information in order to expand their knowledge and grow. Because the world is changing at an ever-accelerated pace, today's great idea will be tomorrow's passing fad, and the day afters history lesson. The learning roles described below will help keep your team from becoming smug about what you know; instead, these roles will keep you questioning your own views and remain open to new insights.

  • The Anthropologist brings new learning and insights into the organization by observing human behavior and developing a deep understanding of how people interact physically and emotionally with products, services, and spaces.
  • The Experimenter prototypes new ideas continuously, learning by a process of enlightened trial and error. The Experimenter takes takes calculated risks to achieve success through a state of "experimentation as implementation."
  • The Cross-Pollinator explores other industries and cultures, then translates those findings and revelations to fit the unique needs of your own organization.
As you reflect over these 3 personas, and the seven to follow over the next two days, keep in mind that they are not inherent personality traits or types that are permanently attached to one individual on your team. These innovation roles are available to nearly anyone on your team, and people can switch roles, reflecting the multifaceted capabilities.

Take a look in the mirror - what Learning persona do you need to assume today to help your organization move forward?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Being Innovation...

...rather than doing innovation.

I find myself coming back again and again to Tom Kelley's "The Ten Faces of Innovation." The book is designed to help bring the human elements of innovation to any organization.

"Ten Faces" is all about how people and teams put into practice methods and techniques that infuse an organization with a continuous spirit of creative evolution.

How about your place? Are you ready to put on a new hat, to play a new role?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Innovation Redoux

I'm working on a project for ChurchWorld involving "innovation." The very word is frightening to many church leaders, but I would submit that thriving churches need to constantly innovate in all areas of their ministries.

A few nuggets to start the conversation:

If some is good, more isn't necessarily better. A disciplined focus on what matters most is essential to innovation and growth.
- Tim Manners, "Relevance"

Four Challenges to Innovation
* Distractions
* Normalcy
* Failure
* Leadership
- Stephen Lundin, "Cats: The Nine Lives of Innovation"

Team Up for Innovation
* Stretch for strength
* Go for distance
* Never surrender
* Embrace the mental game
* Celebrate coaches
- Tom Kelley, "The Ten Faces of Innovation"

Innovation - is it in you?
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

As Technologies Expand, What Do We Lose?

Remember Marshall McLuhan and "The Medium is the Message?"

While preparing for some upcoming presentations, I came across a very interesting blog post from "Life After Powerpoint." Chris Witt, author of "Real Leaders Don't Do Powerpoint" (another great book, another great post) elaborates on some of McLuhan's thoughts. Here is an excerpt:

Media, according to McLuhan, is an extension — any technology a person or society uses to expand the range of the human body or mind in a new way. Telegraph, radio, movies, TV, the Internet, e-mail, and IM are all extensions, because they are — or were at one time — new technologies that expand how we communicate.

Extensions bring about amputations — technologies that are lost because of the adoption of a newer technology. The telegraph, for example, is an amputation caused by the telephone.

McLuhan noted — and was concerned by the fact — that most people are excited about extensions while ignoring amputations. We are, in simpler terms, excited about what we gain by a new technology, a new medium, without giving much thought to what we lose.

You can read the whole post here.

What about it? In your efforts to have the latest and greatest, are your extensions bringing about amputations? What is being lost? Will anybody miss it? Do you care?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be

Pastor and author Max Lucado’s books are like a favorite pair of jeans: comfortable, reliable, not too pretentious, and appropriate for almost every occasion. Drawing upon his previous book “Cure for the Common Life,” this little gem is a great gift for graduates or anyone who is at a place in their life wondering what they are going to do next.

In short descriptive chapters, Lucado weaves a common thread: God created each of us as unique individuals, hand-crafting us in His image for a specific purpose. Each chapter contains a title phrase, scripture reference, and a couple of pages of interesting and captivating story. In each, you will find comfort, hope, and a challenge.

Having been a fan of Lucado’s works for years and utilizing the original source material for a discipleship class, there was nothing new here. But it was still reassuring to read through the stories, identifying and finding a source of encouragement along the way.

“You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be” is a great gift, both very readable and making you think at the same time.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze program.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just in case you were wondering...

From time to time I get asked about the name of this blog. The quick answer? There are four generations of Adams boys alive, and there are an average of 27 years between them. Our "history" spans the first transatlantic telephone call (from NYC to London) the year my father was born to smartphones now that connect the world in an instant.

In other words, there is a lot of history in play: things that have happened, things that are happening, and things that will happen.

And it is all connected.

Here's a better explanation:

This is my son Jonathan, at two years of age, obviously having a good time at my parent's house.

This is my grandson Jack (Jonathan's son) at two years of age, obviously having a good time playing at his house.
Some things never change...
Some things are always changing...

I want to make sure I understand the difference.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Increase Effectiveness by Cutting Meetings

ChurchWorld can get complicated very quickly. New ministry ideas require meetings to plan, implement, and evaluate. Success means more meetings. Systems and structure are necessary, and well, it takes meetings to make it happen.

Or does it?

LifeChurch found itself in just such a situation. As their rapid growth continues, their systems became more complicated and their communication more challenging. In an attempt to become better informed, they added more meetings. Unfortunately, the result was more inefficiency.

According to pastor Craig Groeschel, it was time for a radical change: They cut the frequency of their meetings in half. If a group met once a month, they moved it to once every two months. If it met four times a year, they moved it to two times per year. Weekly meetings became bimonthly meetings.

Invitation to disaster? Not exactly:

  • Instead of less communication, there was better communication. The infrequency of meetings forced them to be more intentional with their communication
  • Instead of planning for one week, they had to plan for two. This forced them to become more organized
  • Instead of dull and boring meetings, people were excited to be together
  • Instead of longer, more drawn out meetings, people worked harder, faster, and smarter
  • A ton of time was freed up for ministry
For Craig Groeschel and LifeChurch, it came down to this:

Cut your meetings in half, double your production.

What about it? Are you game for a radical experiment?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Effective Meeting Tips

Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch, recently had a great series of posts about meetings. Here are the best of the bunch:
  • Work to keep your meetings small and your communication large - too many ministries make the mistake of including too many people in too many meetings. The purpose of the meeting determines the size of the meeting.
  • The start of the meeting sets the tone for the rest of the meeting - start on time with a planned agenda and your chances of a successful meeting are high. On the other hand, waiting while people drag in, starting late, and letting the discussion wander all over the place makes for an unproductive meeting.
  • Keep the discussion moving - maintain a sense of polite urgency, pushing hard enough to keep the meeting moving but not so hard that discussion and decision-making is rushed.
  • Compliment ideas and contributions - whenever possible, make someone else look good in the meeting.
  • Plan your communication - if you are successful in keeping your meeting on the small side, there will be many people who need to know some of the content of the meeting. Ask "Who needs to know what?", plan the communication strategy and execute it well.
  • Summarize the decisions made and the action plan - summarize what you've covered and who will take what action.
Utilizing these ideas will help your next meeting be a productive use of time rather than a dreaded time waster.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Meetings Aren't Always for the Many...

...sometimes the best results come from one-on-one meetings.

John Pearson, in his book "Mastering the Management Buckets," has a great chapter on meetings. Part of the chapter deals with materials from Patrick Lencioni's great book "Death by Meeting." Also included are some great ideas (and a model report form) for one-on-one meetings.

Many meetings end with the perception that assignments and end results are crystal clear. In reality, we often fail to communicate. Pearson suggests that one-on-one meetings with each of a leader's direct reports can be a powerful antidote to miscommunication.

Here are some of Pearson's benefits of this type of meeting:
  • Team members are affirmed regularly
  • Direct reports more consistently leverage their strengths, their social styles, and their spiritual gifts
  • Standards of performance are clear and goals are achieved on time and under budget
  • Staff conflict, gossip, and misinformation challenges are dramatically reduced because truth-telling is a practiced core value
  • Bottlenecks and missed deadlines are eliminated
  • Recommendations are more thoughtful and intentional
  • Communication is enhanced as you use your direct report's preferred communication style
  • The pulse (morale, passion, and energy) of your team is checked weekly
  • Affirmed and productive team members mean less staff turnover
  • members often give you affirmation!
Check out Pearson's book here or take a look at an excerpt here.

How about trying a one-on-one meeting this week?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Death by Meeting

Attention class: it's time for a quiz from the book "Death by Meeting" by Patrick Lencioni.

Go ahead - I'll wait.

Back already? You must have a meeting to go to! Or else you figured out that his suggested answers are on the next page of the quiz.

Lencioni is a noted business writer, conference speaker, and consultant to some of the top companies in the world. His writings focus mainly on a business fable genre, and "Death by Meeting" is one of the best.

Lencioni believes that there are four basic types of meetings:
  • Daily Check-in, lasting 5-10 minutes
  • Weekly Tactical, lasting 45-90 minutes
  • Monthly Strategic, lasting 2-4 hours
  • Quarterly Off-Site Review, lasting 1-2 days
Check here for a complete description.

Looking for quick tips for effective meetings? Check out these 5 great ideas.

Remember  - as a leader, the meetings you run are a direct reflection on your leadership skills, preparation, and effectiveness.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meetings...No Neutral Ground

All the world can be divided into two categories:

You hate meetings...

You really hate meetings...

While those two categories might be a little overstated, they are probably not too far from the truth in most organizations.

Fast Company's Gina Trapani has a great article here entitled "Unconventional Cures for Meeting-itis". It started me thinking about meetings: how necessary they often are but how poorly led they almost always are. I stand guilty here - after over 23 years of staff leadership in ChurchWorld, and in almost six years as a church development consultant, I have "led" my share (plus some) of poor meetings.

This week, how about a whirlwind tour of some great meeting tips from some of the best in the business?

Friday, May 7, 2010

All The World's a Stage...

As I have been working through an "onboarding" process for a new employee in my department, I found the book "Onboarding" by George Bradt and Mary Vonnegut to be an excellent resource for understanding and creating a process that will take full advantage of an important teachable moment in the life of a new employee and the team.

Working through the process over the last month, I have also found that there are great applications for ChurchWorld. Previous posts here and here have covered some of the basics. Today, I want to recap the excellent analogy used by the authors of a theater production to explain the process. Since my son and daughter-in-law are both in the theater, and I have developed a new appreciation for what it takes to pull off a production, the images really make sense!

Imagine your role as leader within the analogy of putting on a theater production, and your new team members are actors. At different times, you are:
  • The Producer - while preparing for success and recruiting, think of yourself as the show's producer, assembling resources for the show.
  • Then, the Director - while giving you new team member a big head start before day one, think of yourself as the show's director. You will co-create the plan, make introductions, announce the show, and generally get things ready.
  • Finally, the Stage Manager - after your new team member walks out on stage, you will continue to Encourage - Align - Solve - End (Ease) their way by managing context and the things happening around them.
This should be a helpful analogy because it gets you off the new team member's stage. You can't recite their lines for them. You can't hit their marks. You can't make entrances and exits for them.

Your job is offstage.

The curtain is rising on your new team member's role - have you done all you can to make them the next star on your team?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Man Overboard!

Continuing a series of post on the book "Onboarding", but applied to ChurchWorld:

Yesterday I noted the author's process for onboarding. What happens when a process like that isn't followed?

I think you get the picture!

If we fail to bring a new team member onboard with the right process, we are setting them up for failure - man overboard! Bradt and Vonnegut have found that a new team member's failure to perform usually stem from one or more of the following things:

  1. role failure due to unclear or misaligned expectations and resources. That's a preparation miss.
  2. A personal failure due to lack of strengths, motivation, or fit. That's a recruiting/selecting miss.
  3. A relationship failure due to  early missteps. That's a head start/early days miss.
  4. An engagement failure due to early days' experiences. That's a management miss.
Do you want to avoid having to toss a life ring to a new team member? Do you want to bring a new level of effectiveness to your team by improving and integrating the disconnected experiences of your enlistment, training, and OTJ learning processes?

You can.

The preselection contact, preparation, orientation, and training of your new team members can be a part of a powerful teachable moment.

Want to know more? Check back tomorrow for a trip to the stage to learn how onboarding can help your team become more successful.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All Aboard!

Onboarding is the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating, and accelerating new team members, whether they come from outside or inside the organization ("Onboarding", Bradt andVonnegut).

There's actually another "a" word that is a perquisite: align. Here's how the authors of "Onboarding" define the key processes listed above.
  • Align - make sure your organization agrees on the need for a new team member and the delineating of the role you seek to fill
  • Acquire - identify, recruit, select, and get people to join the team
  • Accommodate - give new team members the tools they need to do the work
  • Assimilate - help them join with others so they can do the work together
  • Accelerate - help them and their team deliver better results faster
Now that's a list of "straight As" I will take anytime!

Though this list comes from a business book, and I'm currently making this application in my department at work, I think there are great correlations for ChurchWorld as well.

For example, if your church values your volunteer team members, then they would make sure something like the process above is a part of your volunteer leader development program. The role of bringing new volunteer leaders onboard shouldn't be an afterthought.

My church considers my role (as a leader on the guest services team at one of our campus locations) to be a volunteer staff position. I may not receive a paycheck, but the importance of my role in the total scheme of what we do is not diminished one bit.

What's it like at your church?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Are You Practicing Onboarding?

My company has been planning an expansion in the business development area - the department I manage. So I've been preparing an "onboarding" process. It's exactly what it sounds like: bringing a new employee "onboard."

A month after beginning the process, and a week after the new employee has started, I'm finding a lot of applications to church leadership development.

Stay tuned!
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