Have you ever come up with an idea that turned out to genius?
I call it a genius innovation when you find yourself experiencing something and thinking, "This is so cool! Why didn't I think of this?!!"
We've all experienced genius innovation.
But sometimes a genius innovation has its day and then fades away.
Maybe it gets replaced with something cooler. Or maybe it just doesn't work out the way it was hoped.
How about this genius innovation?
In days gone by it was assumed that creating events that could be attended anonymously and allowing un-pressured time for unconnected people to become comfortable with what they were experiencing was a genius innovation.
Breaking with the long held tradition of outing guests and visitors (have members stand and greet visitors who were asked to remain seated), weekend services, other events, and even the website were designed to allow anonymity.
How's that anonymity working for you?
Offer Belonging (and Connection) Before Being Asked
In 10 Practices You Need to Adopt Going Forward (post-COVID-19) I pointed out that we need to be offering belonging (and connection) before being asked.
That is, everything about us, about our organization, our programs, ministries and systems, ought to be reprogrammed to be inclusive as a forethought. Not an afterthought.
Why offer belonging (and connection) before being asked?
There are several reasons this makes sense in the new normal, post-COVID-19 world.
1. Loneliness reached epidemic levels before the coronavirus was a thing.
There ought to have already been blaring warning sounds coming from our radar screens. "Most Americans have reported feeling lonely, left out and not being known." (Cigna).
What does the loneliness epidemic mean about the assumed desire for anonymity? At a minimum it means we shouldn't be offering anonymity without an easy, obvious and strategically designed way to move from anonymous to the first experiences of belonging and community.
What does the loneliness epidemic mean about the assumed desire for anonymity? At a minimum it means we shouldn't be offering anonymity without an easy, obvious and strategically designed way to move from anonymous to the first… Click To Tweet
2. Appearance matters.
Everyone cares about appearances. Awareness and concern about what "everyone" thinks about us is not something only the less mature think about.
In fact, self-consciousness and the desire to be seen as a certain kind of person (intelligent, handsome or beautiful, successful, etc.) acquired epidemic status long before loneliness.
3. Asking for help is a no-no.
Reluctance to ask for help (or directions) is not just an issue for male drivers.
“There is a tendency to act as if it’s (asking for help) a deficiency. That is exacerbated if a business environment is highly competitive within as well as without. There is an understandable fear that if you let your guard down, you’ll get hurt, or that this information you don’t know how to do will be used against you.” —Garret Keizer
There is a tendency to act as if it’s (asking for help) a deficiency. That is exacerbated if a business environment is highly competitive within as well as without. There is an understandable fear that if you let your guard down,… Click To Tweet
See also, Why Is It So Difficult to Ask for Help?
3 Ideas to Help You Offer Belonging (and Connection) Before Being Asked
1. Adopt an empathetic posture and practice.
Most of the time we don't understand the deficiencies of our offer because we're not seeing it through the eyes of the unconnected. We've not learned to listen through the ears of unconnected people.
Assignment: This can only be overcome by spending time with unconnected people and truly appreciating their perspective. When we don't know any unconnected people, that should be our first clue.
2. Make the offer early in every medium, experience, venue, and program.
If you want to offer belonging (and connection) to the people who need it most, you've got to offer it widely and early.
That is, when you think about all that your organization is doing, offering belonging should be forethought, not afterthought.
And, belonging needs to be offered early in every communication medium (website, print, verbal, etc.).
Assignment: Pay close attention to the first messages offered at the event you attend, program you participate in, or website you experience. Is belonging offered early?
3. Make the offer blatantly in every medium, experience, venue, and program.
In addition to making the offer early, the offer should be blatant. It should be obvious.
You shouldn't have to read between the lines or interpret correctly.
Assignment: Recruit outsiders to listen to the invitation being offered. Ask outsiders to read the website content. Afterward, talk over the experience and try to see it from their perspective. Was the invitation clear? Confusing?
Note: If you haven't read 10 Practices You Need to Adopt Going Forward (post-Covid-19), subscribe below and I'll send you a free copy.