Friday’s List | February 23

fridays-listEvery Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

How To Identify Burn Out. 9 signs you are about to crash. by Stephen Brewster. Always challenged and inspired by what Stephen writes.

10 Predictions About The Future Church And Shifting Attendance Patterns by Carey Nieuwhof. A list packed with insights. #10 provides a kind of job security ;-).

The Art of Strategy Is About Knowing When to Say No by Brian Halligan on HBR.org. Good stuff! Very applicable to all of us.

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule by Paul Graham. Classic. Essential ideas.

Avoiding the Fwoosh: Free Poetry Kit to Fight Stress by Kelley Hartnett on Churh Marketing Sucks. One of about 100 blogs I scan every week. Always looking for things that boost creativity.

4 Things Your Small Group Leaders Need in 2018 by Tracey Ware on the Small Group Network blog. There are some great insights in this article (and great suggestions).

Hero Maker: Five Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. This is a really important read! Releases in March, but you can preorder for $10.99!

Here’s what I’m listening to:

Make The Most Of Your Meetings by Todd Henry on the Accidental Creative Podcast.

Bryan and Shannon Miles—Virtual Culture on the EntreLeadership Podcast. I’ve heard a lot about their company (Belay), but never heard them speak. Very interesting.

William Vanderbloemen On How To Gain A Competitive Advantage By Creating An Amazing Culture Staff And Volunteers Won’t Want To Leave on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. There seems to be a theme developing.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson Love Isaacson’s storytelling. Glad I picked it up (on Audible).

Quote I’m wrestling with:

“If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you’ve got to do things no one else is doing.” Craig Groeschel

My own posts I hope you’re reading:

5 Best Practices of Thriving Small Group Ministries

You can learn a lot by studying the best practices of thriving small group ministries. You can improve your results by adopting the best practices of thriving small group ministries. Occasionally, you can improve your results by adapting the best practices of thriving small group ministries to fit your context. I say occasionally because adapting most commonly strips away the design elements that produce the results you hope to attain.

Daniel Kahneman on The Riddle of Experience vs Memory

Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy — and our own self-awareness.

(FYI, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow has been on my list for a couple years AND IT IS STILL ON THE BEST-SELLER LIST! That’s a sign. I’ll be reading it next.)

You can see my other Thinking Thursday posts right here (and a larger list right here on MarkHowellLive.com).

Critical Importance: Understanding Lead Measures (as milestone indicators)

Critical Importance: Understanding Lead Measures (as milestone indicators)

In a recent article I wrote about how to develop milestones (an important ingredient in arriving at your preferred future). In this post I want to add an understanding of lead measures (as milestone) indicators) to your bag of tricks.

Lead Measures vs Lag Measures

When most of us think of goals, we are either thinking about long-term goals (the preferred future) or short-term goals (milestones on the way to the preferred future). In either case, we are thinking about arriving. We’re thinking about getting to the finish line or some spot on the path that leads to the finish line.

Goals that are finish line related can be called lag measures. Getting to the finish line or some spot on the path that leads to the finish line (a certain milestone) are either indications that you’ve arrived or are on the way to arriving.

Lag measures are good but they confirm arrival (or progress); they don’t predict arrival.

Goals that predict arrival are lead measures. Instead of indicating that you have arrived, lead measures predict that you will arrive.

Understanding lead measures (and how to develop them)

I’ve been re-reading a great book. 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney. A fantastic book. I highly recommend it.

In the 4 Disciplines McChesney introduces the concept of The WIG (wildly important goal) as what economists refer to as a “lag” measure. “A lag measure is the measurement of a result you are trying to achieve. We call them lag measures because by the time you get the data the result has already happened.”

McChesney does a very good job of explaining that the key to achieving your WIG (i.e., opening a new campus in the fall, connecting 100% of your average adult weekend attendance in groups, having 2000 adults attend your Christmas Eve service, identifying and recruiting a coach for every 5 leaders, etc.), is not the goal itself.

Think about it. If your goal is to open a new campus by the fall of 2018, reaching your goal will be awesome. But it won’t tell you until too late whether you are focusing on the right things.

“‘Lead’ measures, on the other hand, are different: they foretell the result.

Lead measures have two primary characteristics.

  1. First, a lead measure is predictive, meaning that if the lead measure changes, you can predict that the lag measure also will change.
  2. Second, a lead measure is influenceable; it can be directly influenced by the team (p. 46-47).”

So think about what a lead measure or two might be for your wildly important goal.

Example:

Let’s say your wildly important goal (WIG) is to move from 35% of your average adult worship attendance in groups to 55% of your average adult worship attendance in groups by November 2018.

If that’s your goal, then the questions you might ask would be:

  • “What are the strategies and tactics that are predictive (that is, if the lead measures change, the lag measure will also change)?”
  • “What are the strategies and tactics that are influenceable (that is, can be influenced directly by your team)?”

Predictive:

What are the activities (strategies and tactics) that will predict more groups and more people connected in groups? How about the following:

  • Plan and implement at least three successful launches that will start new groups between 3/1/18 and 11/1/18 (i.e., small group connection with all the trimmings in mid-April, a short-term on-campus strategy during the summer, and a church-wide campaign in September ’18).
  • Identify, recruit and develop a team of launch-phase coaches that will help your newest groups get off to a great start and continue meeting into their 3rd curriculum.

Influenceable:

The right lead measures are influenceable. That is, your team can do the things that provide the greatest opportunity for success. And they can be measured.

  • Plan and implement at least three successful launches that will start new groups between3/1/18 and 11/1/18. There are steps that can and must be taken to ensure that the launches are on the calendar; that the launches are promoted skillfully; and that the launches are not in competition with other events/programs. Need coaching? Consider signing up for my mini-course: How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.
  • Identify, recruit and develop a team of launch-phase coaches. Again, there are steps that can and must be taken to ensure that you have identified, recruited and developed a team that can actually do what needs to be done. Consider signing up for my mini-course: How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.

Further Reading:

Arriving at Your Preferred Future: How to Develop Milestones

Image by Dan Perl

Friday’s List | February 16

fridays-listEvery Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

How To Face Tough Conversations by Dan Reiland. I really like idea #1!

5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day by Michael Hyatt. Great article! Need a more comfortable chair in my office!

7 Things That Will Drive Future Church Growth by Carey Nieuwhof. This ought to make you think.

Hobbies of Highly Effective People by Jeremy Lott. When you’re working on your replenishment cycle…this will help.

These Two Statements Changed My Ministry Almost 30 Years Ago by Dave Travis. Read this! So good.

What Is Strategy, Again? by Andrea Ovans. A very robust read as follow up to Michael Porter’s seminal work.

Hero Maker: Five Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. This is a really important read! Releases in March, but you can preorder for $10.99!

Here’s what I’m listening to:

The Big Pivot — with Slack’s Stewart Butterfield on the Masters of Scale podcast. Very interesting. If you’ve ever needed to pivot from one idea to another, this will be a helpful conversation.

Patty McCord—Creating a Culture Like Netflix’s on the EntreLeadership Podcast. This is a great conversation with the woman who created the Netflix culture deck.

Rich Birch On The Church Growth Flywheel – The 5 Things Growing Churches Do That Most Others Don’t on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson Love Isaacson’s storytelling. Glad I picked it up (on Audible).

Quote I’m wrestling with:

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that.” Jeff Bezos

My own posts I hope you’re reading:

The Role of Strategy in Your Organization

Years ago, while reading The Strategy-Focused Organization, I came across “What is Strategy?”, by Michael E. Porter,  The Porter article is very insightful, tremendously helpful for any organization attempting to determine what next steps to take.

The Role of Strategy in Your Organization

Years ago, while reading The Strategy-Focused Organization, I came across “What is Strategy?”, by Michael E. Porter,  The Porter article is very insightful, tremendously helpful for any organization attempting to determine what next steps to take.

Note: This is the article where Porter’s most famous line comes from (i.e., “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”)

Maybe you’re like the team I was part of then and you’ve spent months (I actually think our team spent several years) developing a new purpose/mission statement and then took the same, somewhat languid, approach to dream up a compelling statement that would capture the essence of our vision. Cool. Wish it had been more front-burner. But still good.

But, the question that I had then was this: Once we articulate that vision will we have the guts to focus on the things that will actually get us to the preferred future we dreamed of?  And that is where strategy fits in.  And that is where many attempts to actually DO SOMETHING fail.

Porter makes several really helpful points. Here’s the first: Operational effectiveness is necessary, but not sufficient.

Here’s his point…every management tool or technique that has been developed (Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, reengineering, change management, etc.), while designed to produce greater operational effectiveness, do not replace strategy. It is the combination of operational effectiveness (doing the best job possible with the resources that you have) and strategy (the intentional choice of certain activities over others) that will produce the greatest results.

It is the combination of operational effectiveness and strategy that will produce the greatest results. Click To Tweet

Here’s the question for today: once you know where you’d like to go are you willing to choose to do only those activities that will get you there?

Clarifying Your Why Is an Often Missed Step in Preferred Future Thinking

With over 36 million views (as of today), you’ve almost certainly seen Simon Sinek’s groundbreaking TED Talk, Start with Why. Maybe you’ve even read the book.

But…have you done the hard work of identifying and clarifying the why that drives your organization?

If not, maybe it’s time to do that. After all, it’s an often missed step in preferred future thinking.

When I describe the journey from where you are now (your present) to where you dream of arriving organizationally (your preferred future), I often say that without vivid clarity about where you’d like to go, you will only rarely arrive in the right place.

As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

So, how do you go about clarifying your why?

Three Steps and Focused Discovery

The essence of a why discovery exercise can be described as a three step process:

Gather the important organizational stories and share them.

In an organizational sense, the founder’s stories about the difference-making events in their life are essential, but it will also be important to mine for the stories of additional voices (the ideal number might be 20-30, depending on the size of the organization) who share “two characteristics: zeal for their jobs and reasonable long tenure in the company (p. 102).”

In a workshop sense, this might be accomplished by having a set of conversations:

Conversation #1: Ask for specific stories of when participants have felt “most proud to work for this organization.”

Conversation #2: Ask the participants to reflect on the stories they shared, recalling the specific contribution your organization made to the lives of others.

Conversation #3: Ask participants to identify what your organization’s contribution enables others to do or be.

Identify important themes.

Once you’ve facilitated the three conversations, carefully sift for themes that emerge and resonate. As you identify themes, it’s common for one or two to stand out as being more important to the larger number of contributors.

These themes can become “the foundation of your Why statement.”

Draft and refine a why statement.

Once you’ve identified the most important one or two themes, you can begin to assemble your Why statement (at least the first attempt). The authors of Find Your Why say that “you should try to make yours:

  • simple and clear
  • actionable
  • focused on the effect you’ll have on others
  • expressed in the affirmative” (i.e., not what you aren’t or don’t do)

(from Find Your Why, p. 35)

The objective is to end up with a simple statement in this format:

To ______ (your contribution to the lives of others) so that ________(the impact of your contribution)

Simon Sinek’s Why statement is a good example. “To inspire people to do things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world.”

Summary: Although you’d definitely benefit from thoroughly digesting Find Your Why, you should be able to see how discovering your organizational Why would help shape and clarify your preferred future. In fact, once you’ve identified your Why you might actually need to rethink some of what you’ve assumed your preferred future should be.

Further Reading:

“Find Your Why” is an essential addition to the toolbox

Diagnosing Today

Arriving at Your Preferred Future: How to Develop Milestones

Arriving at Your Preferred Future

Image by Steve Rhodes

Friday’s List | February 9

fridays-listEvery Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

6 Brainstorming Tips to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing by Young Entrepreneur Council on Inc.com. Bookmark it!

These 10 Peter Drucker Quotes May Change Your World by Jeff Shore on Entrepreneur.com. So good!

7 Ways To Build Teams Of Great Leaders (When You Feel Like Your Team Is Lacking) by Carey Nieuwhof. If you’re on the hunt for more leaders, don’t miss this one.

50 Limiting Beliefs That Hold Senior Pastors Back by Brian Jones on Senior Pastor Central. Great list! And they apply whether you lead a team or an organization.

Y Combinator Is Launching A “Grad School” For Booming Startups by Harry McCracken on FastCompany.com. If you are a synthesizing thinker, you read this article to think about increasing your multiplication factor.

Hero Maker: Five Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. This is a really important read! Releases in March, but you can preorder for $10.99!

Here’s what I’m listening to:

WHY CUSTOMER LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED on the Masters of Scale podcast. This is a great conversation and has quite a few powerful insights into innovation.

Lessons from 50,000 Interviews: Larry King and Cal Fussman on the Tim Ferriss podcast. This is a great conversation. Fascinating look into the life of an amazing communicator.

Motivating Your Team by Craig Groeschel on the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. I listened to this one twice!

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson Love Isaacson’s storytelling. Glad I picked it up (on Audible).

Quotes I’m wrestling with:

“Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.” Peter Drucker

My own posts I hope you’re reading:

7 Signs Your Small Group Ministry Has a Bad Design

If it’s true that “your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing (Andy Stanley),” the corollary is that if you don’t like the results you are currently experiencing, you need to acknowledge that you have a bad design and change it.  After all, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (Albert Einstein).”

Let me say that again.  If you don’t like the results you are currently experiencing, you need to acknowledge that you have a bad design and change it.

Sheila Heen on How to Use Others’ Feedback to Learn and Grow

Most efforts to improve individual and organizational learning focus on teaching people how to give feedback. After years of consulting with organizations around the world on how to manage their most challenging conversations, Heen and her colleagues realized they may have been thinking about the problem the wrong way. She explains why, if you want to improve learning in your organization, the smart money is on figuring out how to receive feedback—even off-base or poorly delivered feedback—and use it to fuel growth.

You can see my other Thinking Thursday posts right here (and a larger list right here on MarkHowellLive.com).

Friday’s List | February 2

fridays-listEvery Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

12 Ways to Build Staff Morale by Dan Reiland. If you lead a team…this is a must read.

8 Red Flags for Ministry Staff Recruiting by Paul Alexander on TheUnstuckGroup.com. Pretty timely. If you’re hiring, this is a good read.

7 Leadership Blind Spots That Drive Your Team Crazy by Carey Nieuwhof. #4 might be something I need to be aware of.

How to Build Snowmen from a Snowflake Generation by Tim Elmore. Great read by a leading expert on the next generation.

4 Simple Ways to Celebrate with Your Team by Megan Hyatt Miller. Truly simple. Add this to your recipe.

Four Ways to Help Your Pastor Get Excited About Groups by Chris Surratt on LifeWay.com. If you’re trying to build a thriving small group ministry, this is a key understanding.

How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority by Clay Scroggins. This is a great read! If you lead anything, you need this!

Here’s what I’m listening to:

25 Questions That Will Help You Get Unstuck by Todd Henry on The Accidental Creative Podcast. I’m a fan of great questions. This is a great list!

Todd Adkins, Eric Geiger And Carey Nieuwhof On The Lies Leaders Believe on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. These guys are both included in the Leadership Pipeline conference.

Escape the Competition — with PayPal’s Peter Thiel on the Masters of Scale podcast. This is probably my favorite podcast right now. So good!

Charles Koch—The Danger of Complacency on the EntreLeadership Podcast. Great conversation with a very smart industry leader.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson Love Isaacson’s storytelling. Glad I picked it up (on Audible).

Quotes I’m wrestling with:

“Asking the wrong questions gives us status quo answers and status quo results.” Dave Ferguson, Hero Maker

My own posts I hope you’re reading:

How are you doing…really?

Try this hypothesis on for size:

In view of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25), we should be paying attention to results.

And it follows that we should be mindful of the connection between design and results. (Remember…”your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing”).

Finally, wise stewards will evaluate results on a regular basis to ensure their activities are continuing to produce the kind of results that will one day prompt “well done.”