Exponential Thinking: The Power of Adding a Zero

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One of the amazing stories that came out of the development of 40 Days of Purpose was how the HOST strategy came to be.  Ever heard this one?  It’s pretty crazy.  It’s also a window into the kind of thinking that needs to happen in order to produce exponential results.  This is 1 part legend and 1 part conjecture with a twist of Brett Eastman.  Here’s what happened:

The Origin of the HOST Strategy

Just before the launch of 40 Days in the fall of 2002, Rick Warren met with Bruce Wilkinson (The Prayer of Jabez, etc.).  In the conversation, Wilkinson reportedly said that to think exponentially “you need to add a zero to whatever you’re thinking.”  Interesting…right?  It gets better.

The next day in a staff meeting Warren asked the Saddleback team (led by Brett Eastman) how many new groups they expected to launch to connect unconnected people for 40 Days.  Their answer was based on what they believed was possible using the Connection strategy.  Made sense, too.  After all, they’d grown from 70 groups to  800 groups using  Connections.

Here’s where the story gets even better.  Hearing their plans and the number of new groups it would produce, Warren said, “You need to add a zero to that number.”  They said, “This strategy won’t do that.”  Warren said, “Then you need a different strategy.”

The team went back to the drawing board and came up with the idea of recruiting people who to simply open their home, invite friends and show the video.  That is exponential.  Over 2,000 people said yes to the idea of hosting a group!  Further, so many people responded to the host invitation in the very first service that they thought people had misunderstood.  They repeated the invitation, clarified what they were asking, and got an even larger response!

Moral of the story: Had they stayed with Connection strategy, 40 Days wouldn’t have had the exponential small group response that it did.  Dreaming about a larger response required envisioning a new way of connecting people.

Update: Today Saddleback has over 4,000 groups and has more people in groups than they have attending their weekend services.

Takeaway:  It is a great story.  Wish I had been there.  Bet you do too.  But here’s the thing.  We can all take advantage of the principle of exponential thinking.  It’s not even that hard.  Just get in the habit of asking, “How can we add a zero to that number?  What would we have to do in order to have that outcome?”

Who knows!  You might come up with the next game-changing strategy!

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