The Paradox of Expertise

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The biggest obstacle for most stuck small group ministries?  I think it's what Cynthia Barton Rabe refers to as "the paradox of expertise."  Rabe, a former strategist at Intel, points out that:

"What we know limits what we can imagine.  When it comes to innovation, the same hard-won experience, best practice, and processes that are the cornerstones of an organization's success may be more like millstones that threaten to sink it."  (Practically Radical, p. 72)

Think about it.  If you're stuck at a certain level, how frequently do you find yourself or a member of your team pointing out the reasons you need to keep doing "the things that are working?"  How often do you find yourself thinking, "We have these parts figured out (leader development, coaching, placing members, etc.).  We know just about everything there is to know about "x."

Sound familiar?  Could it be that it is actually the best practices and processes that are keeping you from discovering the mold-breaking innovation that will completely change what's possible?  Are some of grouplife's axiomatic beliefs actually preventing your ministry from doing what it could do?

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

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  1. Jon Stolpe on November 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I guess that’s why I like Heather Zempel’s model – Everything is an Experiment.  Even though most would consider her among today’s experts in the grouplife world.  I know she’s not afraid to try something differently – even if it means failing.  I must admit that I fall victim to the “standards”, “traditions”,  and ways we’ve always done group life ministry.  It’s definitely a challenge to be new, creative, and fresh – and open to what direction God may be leading.

  2. Anonymous on November 5, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Heather is a good example of someone open to the new ideas. At the same time, all of us, myself and Heather included, need to be on the lookout for our own blind spots…one reason I love this great Gary Hamel line about innovation:

    “You’re going to have to cross swords with innovation’s deadliest foe: the often unarticulated and mostly unexamined beliefs that tether you and your colleagues to the management status quo. All of us are held hostage by our axiomatic beliefs. We are jailbirds incarcerated within the fortress of dogma and precedent. And yet, for the most part, we are oblivious to our own captivity (p. 126, The Future of Management).”