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Quotebook: Thoroughly Conscious Ignorance

As you know, I’ve long been an advocate of being a learner.  Reading broadly, stoking curiosity, exploring stacks of seemingly unrelated material and curating collections of great questions are all part and parcel of the journey.

Watching Stuart Firestein’s TED video on the pursuit of ignorance was just one of my most recent excursions.  I came away with several great quotes and a new appreciation for my own willingness to experiment in a search for better ways to connect people and make followers of Jesus.  If you’ve never seen it you can watch it right here.

Here is the quote that caught my attention:

“Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science.”  James Clerk Maxwell

I know this is ostensibly a quote about science.  No matter.  It is actually about the idea that only when we are aware (conscious) of our own limited knowledge (ignorance) of how things work, will we become open to what is still possible.

Why is this important?  Clearly, our current strategies have proven ineffective at connecting the widening 60%.  Want to connect them?  I do…and it will take a collection of strategies we have not yet discovered.  See also, Different Leads to a Church OF Groups.

“They Just Don’t Know What’s Good for Them” #irrationality

“They just don’t know what’s good for them.”

“If they knew what was good for them, they’d sign up for a small group.”

“If they knew what was good for them, they’d attend worship and stay for Sunday school.”

“If they knew what was good for them, they’d be leading a small group.”

Ever said anything like that?  I think it’s safe to say all of us have said something like that.  And that’s understandable.  It’s probably even human nature.

It’s understandable and it’s probably human nature…but it’s actually a kind of irrationality.

I love Peter Drucker’s take on the idea that the customer is irrational (a common complaint in business).

“To assume–as has lately become fashionable–that customers are irrational is as dangerous a mistake as it is to assume that the customer’s rationality is the same as that of the manufacturer or supplier–or that it should be.”  Peter Drucker, Managing for Results

Next time you feel overwhelmed by the need to say that “they just don’t know what’s good for them,” keep in mind that they don’t share your worldview…or your irrationality.  See also, Avoid These 4 Realities at Your Own Peril.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Quotebook: When An Organization Begins to Die

I loved Bob Buford’s book, Drucker & Me.  If you’ve not picked it up yet, I highly recommend it.  It’s a behind the scenes glimpse of one of history’s greatest strategic minds.  It’s also highly practical and you will come away with a great set of takeaways.

Here’s a one liner that instantly made it onto my post-it note wall:

“An organization begins to die the day it begins to be run for the benefit of the insiders and not for the benefit of the customers.”  Drucker & Me

Powerful and sobering.  Early on I was influenced by a talk given by Jim Dethmer where he pointed out that Willow Creek’s primary customers, their end users, were not the people in the seats.  Their customers were the people not in the seats.

Dethmer’s line of reasoning was that Willow Creek existed to reach the customer and that once reached that customer would become an envisioned and empowered “employee” who would join the mission of reaching other customers.

Made great sense when I first heard it in 1991.  Makes even more sense today.

“An organization begins to dies the day it begins to be run for the benefit of the insiders and not for the benefit of the customers.”

Quotebook: When Change Efforts Fail

Have you tried more than once to introduce a new system or strategy to your ministry only to feel resistance?  In my pursuit of a better understanding of bringing change (which I end up doing a lot of) I’m reading The Change Monster by Jeannie Daniel Duck.

“When a stagnating company attempts one change effort after another, and repeatedly fails to achieve any lasting result, two damaging things occur: (1) management loses credibility and (2) the rest of the workforce becomes change-resistant.”  The Change Monster, p. 43

Would you say your team or your ministry is highly change-resistant?  You might benefit from The Change Monster.  The metaphor Duck uses throughout the book is outstanding and the strategies she introduces are very transferable to our business.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Quotebook: Options and Differentiation

I am a fan of Simon Sinek’s thinking.  Start with Why has had a great influence on my thinking in the last several years.

I tripped across this line from Sinek last week.  Think about what it means for churches that are serving up a buffet of options:

“Companies that offer lots of options are often struggling to differentiate. Differentiation comes from clarity of Why, not excess of What.” Simon Sinek

If your church offers a menu of options (as opposed to a plated meal), might it be that the struggle is to differentiate brought on by a lack of clarity of Why?

By the way, Sinek’s take here reminded me of Youngme Moon’s insightful book, Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd.  If you’re involved in strategy, it is a must read in my opinion.

Quotebook: The Only Thing We Have to Bring to Community

“The only thing we have to bring to community is ourselves, so the contemplative process of recovering our true selves in solitude is never selfish.  It is ultimately the best thing we can give to others.” Parker Palmer, The Active Life, p. 29

Quotebook: Never Stop Questioning

I’ve written many times about the power of a great question.  Here are two of my favorite posts: Supercharge Your Ministry Impact with These 5 Questions and Ministry in a Fog? Here are 6 Critical Questions That Create Clarity.

Here is what Albert Einstein thought about questions:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

When was the last time you asked a great question?

Quotebook: The Key to Long-Term (Ministry) Success

You know this…but I thought this was a good quote for your notebook.  This is a very Peter Drucker/Joseph Schumpeter concept, the gist of which is that you can’t continue to succeed without being willing to abandon yesterday’s winning products or programs (in the pursuit of tomorrow’s winning products or programs).

“The key to long-term success is a willingness to disrupt your own comfort for the sake of continued growth.”  Todd Henry, Die Empty

For more on this idea, see Purposeful Abandonment: a Prerequisite to Innovation and The Innovator’s Guide to Growth.

By the way, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Everyday is a great read.  If you’re in a creative enterprise, this is a must read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Quotebook: Goal Setting

As one of the world’s preeminent advisers to CEOs and boards, Ram Charan has spent the past 35 years on the road, watching hundreds of executives deal with their toughest challenges.

Here’s his take on the greatest mistake CEOs make in setting goals:

“As a rule CEOs don’t give enough attention to setting goals. The greatest mistake they make is to look in the rearview mirror at what they did last year or at what their competition did. The brilliant decision makers look at the runway ahead.”  (Harvard Business Review, November, 2013)

When you set goals…are you looking in the rearview mirror?  Or are you looking at the runway ahead?  A brilliant insight.

By the way, I’ve greatly benefitted from the insights of Ram Charan.  He is the co-author of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (with Larry Bossidy) and Know-How: the 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don’t.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Quotebook: Rationalization

Working on something that you know needs to change but just aren’t ready to pull the trigger?  I love this line from Peter Block:

“The most common rationalization for doing things we do not believe in is that what we really desire either takes too long or costs too much.”  The Answer to How Is Yes

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