Recharge: 7 Ways to Improve Innovative Thinking

In this volatile world the old model of process innovation needs a new framework. It isn’t in sync with the way our minds work, which brain research tells us is more serendipitous than linear.

Innovation just doesn’t lend itself to being predictable and risk free. Innovation demands looking at the world differently, and finding connections between seemingly disconnected things.

Corporate protocol, management hierarchies, and rigid assumptions about people’s needs often create anxiety and stifle freedom of thought and exploration.

It’s surprising that we repeat things in business even when we don’t get the results we want, but we’re creatures of habit and old habits are hard to break. Changing a routine takes time and thought out of our busy work lives and there is a risk in trying something new. Even something that is simple and accessible and that has an obvious benefit doesn’t always go over right away.

It’s time for a change.

Endorse unexpected questions. Challenge existing assumptions. It’s better in the long run to have a hunch that something might work and try it out than it is to declare “I know this will work” and invest in proving it. Make sure people are out in the field with customers seeing how they use things, seeing what fails, getting their hands dirty. The process is non-linear and, yes, chaotic.

Here is your opportunity to completely recharge innovative thinking within your organization, while at the same time halting the vicious cycle of failure. There are 7 surprisingly simple things you can do right now to ignite your thinking, invigorate existing ideas, and boost productivity.

If organizations want to innovate the way successful bold newcomers have, they have to unplug from the constraints of “That’s the way we’ve always done it” and recharge, starting with the mantra, “Let’s just not do that anymore.  – Debra Kaye

 

>> Download 7 Ways to Improve Innovative Thinking here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debra Kaye

Debra Kaye is an international innovation consultant specializing in brand and culture strategy for consumer businesses. Her clients have included Apple, Mars, Colgate, McDonald’s, American Express, Kimberly-Clark and many more. A frequent commentator on American Public Radio’s “Marketplace” and contributor to Fast Company, Kaye is a partner at the innovation consultancy Lucule and former CEO of TBWA\Italy.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Four Rules of Thumb to Get You Started Toward Ministry Innovation

Solving a difficult ministry challenge requires imagination, focus, endurance, and a tolerance for failure, to name but a few key ingredients. However, the real secret behind delivering world-class ministry innovation actually depends on what we lack rather than what we have.

Here are four memorable little rules of thumb aimed to help guide your decision making as you address ministry and organizational challenges alike.

>> If the schedule gets longer, you’re doing it wrong-er.

It turns out delaying a project’s delivery date in response to difficulty is a demonstrably ineffective problem-solving technique, to say nothing of being inefficient.

>> The more you delay, the more you will pay.

Long timelines expose projects to more changes than short timelines. Technologies change, markets change and economic situations change. Responding to these changes can be expensive, not only in terms of dollars but also in the amount of intellectual investment required.

>> The smaller the crew, the more you can do.

One of the best ways to unleash talent is to not have too much of it. That is, a small team of talented people will generally outperform a larger group of similarly skilled people, because the members of the smaller group have a greater personal investment in the outcome and thus apply their talents more effectively.

>> A simpler design will work just fine.

Generally speaking, complexity is not a sign of sophistication. Simplicity is. Increases to complexity therefore should be approached with caution.

The good news is that you have an alternative. It genuinely is possible to be fast, inexpensive, restrained, and elegant. When you put those pieces together, you just might discover you are capable of producing something amazing.

Author Dan Ward calls this approach the F.I.R.E. method, and it’s the subject of his recent book F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation.

F.I.R.E. presents and analyzes a wide range of rapid, thrifty innovation stories, including both successes and failures, and shows how focusing on speed, thrift, simplicity and restraint helps foster creativity.

The foundational lesson is that people who produce breakthrough results often pursue and embrace limited resources and have a low tolerance for complexity.

>> Download a brief manifesto about all of the F.I.R.E. concepts here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Is Your Organization Optimized for Efficiency or Strategic Agility?

Organizations everywhere are struggling to keep up with the accelerating pace of change—let alone get ahead of it.

Most people don’t feel the full rush going on around them, which is a part of the problem. But on almost every important index, the world is racing ahead. The stakes – the financial, social, environmental, and political consequences – are rising in a similar, exponential way. What we need today is a powerful new element to address the challenges posed by mounting complexity and rapid change.

The solution, which internationally known business thinker John Kotter has seen to work astonishingly well, is a second system that is organized as a network – more like a start-up’s solar system than a mature organization’s Giza pyramid – that can create agility and speed. It powerfully complements rather than overburdens a more mature organization’s hierarchy, freeing the latter to do what it’s optimized to do. It makes an enterprise easier to run while accelerating strategic change.

This is not a question of “either/or.” It’s “both/and,” two systems that operate in concert.

A dual operating system.

We still have much to learn. Nevertheless, the organizations that get there first, because they are willing to pioneer action now, will see immediate and long-term success—for stakeholders, customers, employees, and themselves. I am convinced that those who lag will suffer greatly – if they survive at all.

>> Learn more about the dual operating system in this download from John Kotter.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Ministry Success is a Moving Target You Have to Hit Again and Again

We live in a time of brutal competition.

Fickle consumer trends, friction-free markets, and political unrest threaten the existence of many organizations.

Nearly every industry is in the midst of massive upheaval, with the old stalwarts falling quickly to the new breed of innovators. Dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and mind-numbing technology advances exacerbate the challenges we face as leaders.

With threats like these racing toward you, how do you react? Do you stand frozen in place with fear and anxiety? Or do you leap into action, finding a new and better way forward? Renegade leaders choose to upset the status quo long before there’s a need to do so. Instead of losing ground, these innovators are accomplishing dramatic growth and spurring tremendous economic gain.

Organizations, communities, and individuals fall for many reasons, but one of the most common – and easily avoidable – is the failure to reinvent.

Those who feel the most secure in the status quo are in fact the most vulnerable. Many organizations, once great, wither and die as a direct result of their deep entrenchment in the past. They discover too late that success isn’t about cracking the code once and then enjoying the spoils forever.

The road to ministry success is a moving target that we have to hit again and again. The disruption of ongoing innovation eventually topples any organization that fails to keep moving—to reinvent.

The good news about reinvention is that you don’t need magic, genius, good looks, or vaults of cash to transform your organization. The required elements are open-mindedness, courage, and imagination. Unleashing your imagination is no longer optional. It will, in fact, become the lifeblood of your success.

While the times may be challenging, we’re living in a world of endless possibility. You get to write the script of your own screenplay, paint your own masterpiece.

Take personal responsibility for the outcomes you desire and then proceed with passion and conviction. Now is the time to choose:

  • New ideas over old ones
  • Abundance over scarcity
  • Fresh thinking over conventional wisdom
  • Innovation over stagnation
  • Growth over protection
  • Exploration over fear
  • Your dream over someone else’s

Your full potential awaits. Retool. Reimagine. Rework. Rebuild. Recreate. Reestablish. Relaunch. Rekindle. Renew. Rejoice.

 Reinvent. 

>> Download a summary of Josh Linker’s The Road to Reinvention here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Costs to Constant Ministry Imitation

If you’re like me, you like to track with people who are ahead of you in age and stage, and probably ahead of you in their level of ‘success’.

Chances are you do this in real life (I hope you have mentors) but you also do this online. Thanks to social media, smart phones, tablets and access to anything anywhere all the time, almost everyone tracks with some ‘celebrity’ type leader.

Please hear me. This is a great way of learning and growing.  I do it too.

But have you ever found yourself imitating others—in style, in content and in strategy?

Do that often enough and guess what happens?

You’ll kill something God given inside.

In fact, you’ll eventually stop innovating.

Ultimately, imitation kills innovation.

Is Imitation Always Bad? Well, No

Imitation isn’t all bad.  There are instances when imitation is just wise and expedient.  Here are a few:

  • When someone else has done something better than you could and you are free to use their material, strategy or approach.
  • When someone has figured out a smarter, faster way to get things done.
  • No one on your team has the creativity to create a better mousetrap.

But imitation as a habit can be a big mistake, not to mention soul killing.

But Now the Shadow Side

Imitate long enough, and imitate hard enough, and there won’t be much innovation left in you or your organization.  And for those of us who are Christians, there may not be much of God’s voice left in you either.

If you only listen to others, you will eventually stop listening to God.

And let’s take that a step further.

While this doesn’t always happen, just level with me. When you follow someone who is a better leader, better communicator or better writer than you, it stirs up some envy, doesn’t it?

If it doesn’t for you, as much as I hate to admit it, it does for me from time to time. And when that happens, I need to confess it and address it.

Envying someone else’s gifts will cause you to neglect your own.

3 Ways Imitation Kills Innovation

So what does constant imitation kill?  More than you might think. Let’s look specifically at three ways innovation suffers at the hands of imitation.

Constant imitation:

1. Kills your unique voice.

If you are always trying to be someone else, you will never be yourself. And that’s a shame, because God actually created you.

It’s not that you shouldn’t learn from others (you really can’t learn all by yourself anyway), it’s just that you should stop trying to be someone else. So just stop that. Develop your own voice. Learn from others, but be yourself.

2. Stifles Your creativity.

Some of the best ideas you’ll ever have seem dumb when you first have them. And sometimes they stay dumb. But often they don’t…what’s crazy to begin with can become powerfully effective.

6 years ago a group of us left an almost paid for building to start a new non-denominational church that was 100% portable. A year after I sat down with a colleague I really respected and he told me he thought we were crazy when he first heard of the idea. Why leave what’s safe to move into the unknown? Truthfully, I hadn’t thought about it that way until he mentioned it. Glad I didn’t. We weren’t imitating anyone at the time…we were just doing what we believed we were called to do. And 6 years later, I’m so glad we did it.

3. Stunts your true potential. 

Imitators are always one or two steps behind. They have to wait for the next product, approach or strategy to be revealed. Then they madly copy.

If you are always imitating, your trajectory will never be greater than the person you’re copying. Ever. It will always be a shadow of theirs.

Remember too, that the last thing the innovator you’re copying thought about when creating what you’re looking at was “Now what should I imitate next?”

Innovation is messy, uncertain, scary and fraught with failure. Which is why it’s so much easier to imitate. And so less rewarding.

So…two questions for you personally:

  • What (or who) are you imitating?
  • How much time do you spend innovating or trying something new?

And now a question for commenters: How do you straddle the tension between learning from someone and imitating them?

Read more from Carey here.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Build New Habits to Insure You Meet Your Goals

The problem with goals is that most of them are too big, and they take a long time, and that requires work.  That’s also what makes them worthwhile!  But on a day-to-day basis, you need to figure out how to build the habits that will eventually get you to your goals.

Charles Duhigg wrote a great book on how to break bad habits and build better ones – The Power of Habit.  Here is his flow chart for building habits (click on the image to see it full-size):

 HowtoChangeaHabit

> If your goal is to lose weight, you need to change your eating (input) and exercise (output) habits.

> If your goal is to write a book, you need to change your writing habits.

Austin Kleon wrote a great post on breaking goals down into habits. He says to do something small, every day:

Figure out what your little daily chunk of work is, and every day, no matter what, make sure it gets done.

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. We’re all busy, but we all get 24 hours a day. People often ask me, “How do you find the time for the work?” And I answer, “I look for it.” You find time the same place you find spare change: in the nooks and crannies. You find it in the cracks between the big stuff—your commute, your lunch break, the few hours after your kids go to bed. You might have to miss an episode of your favorite TV show, you might have to miss an hour of sleep, but you can find the time to work if you look for it.

What I usually recommend: get up early. Get up early and work for a couple hours on the thing you really care about. When you’re done, go about your day…

Do the work every day. Fill the boxes on your calendar. Don’t break the chain.

This approach works pretty well for most of our personal goals.  But what if our goal is to make our organizations more innovative?

That’s a bit trickier.  The main reason is that innovation is a lot more complex.  Complex systems are trickier because they require us to approach our goals indirectly.  This excerpt from John Kay’s terrific book Obliquity outlines the issue:

If you want to go in one direction, the best route may involve going in the other. Paradoxical as it sounds, goals are more likely to be achieved when pursued indirectly. So the most profitable companies are not the most profit-oriented, and the happiest people are not those who make happiness their main aim. The name of this idea? Obliquity.

Obliquity is relevant whenever complex systems evolve in an uncertain environment, and whenever the effect of our actions depends on the ways in which others respond to them.

Innovation is another thing that we need to approach obliquely.  So what habits should we build to help?  Here are some ideas that I’ve run across in the past couple of days:

  • Take care of yourself.  Jason Cohen points out that we are happier and more productive when we get enough sleep, exercise, and take time to think.
  • Practice divergent thinking. It’s a mistake to jump straight to solutions when we’re trying to innovate.  First, we have to explore a broad range of ideas.  Olaf Kowalik writes about how to use divergent thinking to do this – and this is a key innovation skill.
  • Read widely. Jorge Barba makes an important point at the end of his post recommending some innovation books to read:
    One more thing: everything is connected in some way, so read about anything and everything. Not just books that have “innovation” in the title.

To innovate, you need the process, but you also need to muddle your way through a bit.  So some of the habits you need to build are oblique – like getting enough sleep.  Others are more direct, like blocking out time for thinking and allocating resources for building your ideas.

The main point is that things that are worth doing take effort over an extended period of time.

You need to build habits that will ensure that you make that effort.

Read more from Tim here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Secret Sequences & Systems of Ministry Innovation

Sequencing matters. Service matters.  Systems matter.

And so do people.

When sequencing and systems fail to help our guests effectively experience quality service, or take practical steps toward desired outcomes, people are not valued. We don’t communicate that they matter. At least we fall obviously short.

Our connections team has been assessing processes, systems, staffing and teams that most effectively help our people take their next step toward Jesus – particularly, new guests to our church. Although someone’s very next step after an initial weekend service may be to come back the next weekend, we can’t assume that is the only step a guest may want or need to take.

How do people meet others? Find a sense of belonging? And in doing so take a step on their journey toward and with Jesus? 

Sequence matters. And that means opportunities must be carefully planned and offered.

Environments, services, gatherings, resources – all matter. They help people meet, focus, grow and figure out their next step.

Systems matter. Clarity makes the next step even possible.  Following up communicates care.

Susan Abbott over at theIdeaStudio talks about sequencing as a way to innovate the guest’s or customer’s experience. No, she is not observing church ministry; she is looking at fast food delivery systems and insurance claims processes. She suggests that by altering the sequence of events, an organization can discover process innovation.

She offers this exercise:

Consider the sequence of delivery of the elements in your consumption chain. Write them on a piece of paper. Mix up the papers. Describe a sequence for each random mix you come up with. Try not to reject it out of hand … see if you can think of a way to make it work.*

Okay, this whole exercise goes south if you think of your church guests as a “consumption chain,” so don’t. You get the point. What helpful sequencing might come of this exercise in your ministry team? Non-profit? Marketplace business?

If you’re brave enough to give it a shot – report back through a comment.

Our team is going to dive into it. I’ll let you know…

Read more from Mark here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Waltz

Mark has spent the past 25 years serving and leading people. While many of those years were focused within the local church, he brings marketplace experience from retail management, as well as career development and training. Regardless of his work or ministry context, he is about investing in people, because he believes people really matter. Think of him as a "people advocate." A sought after consultant and trainer, Mark has helped local churches of all sizes improve their guest services experience. Today Mark serves as executive pastor at Granger Community Church where for the past fourteen years he has been a unifying force, overseeing adult relational connections, including groups, guest services and volunteer strategies. As Granger’s chief guest services practitioner he still inspires teams of volunteers who make Granger Community Church a relaxed, rejuvenating and relevant experience for members and guests. Mark also oversees Granger’s multisite campuses.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.