Thursday, December 20, 2007

Innovation Meets Christmas

Holidays usually aren't about innovation. In fact it is the opposite - they are about tradition. They epitomize the way things have always been done and that is what we love about them. When I think of Christmas, I think of the bread my mom always makes or the certain Christmas music we always listen to. But in the midst of all of this tradition and nostalgia, there is room for innovation.

One of those areas really comes out in your stage of life. Depending on where we are in life - single, married without kids, surrounded by kids, empty-nesters or seniors - we will celebrate Christmas differently. We will take those traditions and apply them in new and creative ways to make them relevant and meaningful.

When I think about innovation in the context of Christmas, meaning is the word that resonates. I am always looking for new and creative ways to capture the meaning of what God did by sending His son. We do that with our children by celebrating Advent - which is a complex process of songs, stories, snacks, blowing out candles and placing that day's character on the advent calendar. It is further complicated by the turn taking and tracking that is required. But in that whole process we are finding new and innovative ways to share with them what this holiday is all about.

How are you innovating in your efforts to bring meaning to this season?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hard Thinking / Soft Thinking

Today I gave a presentation about this topic and people seemed to respond very well to it. The idea is this . . .
Soft Thinking is the creative, macro-level, brainstorming that allows people to work on new ideas and be innovative.
Hard Thinking is the actionable and measurable thinking that gets a project done.

I think that we tend to glorify the one that comes easiest to us. Those people who are creative and big thinkers love to sit around and dream. Those who are practical doers love to get the job done well.

The challenge is that both things are critical. You have to have a dynamic integration of soft thinking and hard thinking to really create innovation. Because a genuinely new idea is no good without follow through and on the other side good follow through on a boring idea gets no traction.

Unfortunately, the leader of a project, department, or organization usually surrounds themselves with people who think like them instead of the opposite. So if a leader is a soft thinker they tend not to bring around them hard thinkers to help them make their ideas come about. Innovation in non-profits will only happen when we are thinking about how we think and pulling the right people together to be effective.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Overcoming Fear

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. - Marie Curie

We live in a time of fear. Whether it be identity theft, international terrorism or new technology . . . much of modern society is shrouded in fear.

Innovative solutions and ideas have an opportunity to break that shroud and to give people hope. What a great purpose to be about . . . casting out fear!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Innovation Doesn't Need Technology

If you have been reading this blog you will notice that many posts about innovation talk about new technology breakthroughs. If someone where looking online to understand the definition of innovation they might get the idea that if it didn't have 1's and 0's then it could not meet the criteria.

But that just ain't so! Innovation leans towards technology because our world has been digitized at so many levels. So what does an innovation look like that has nothing to do with technology?

Hmmmmm . . .

Another powerful are of innovation is in the study of ideas. Philosophers, theologians and the like come up with ideas that truely change the way we understand the world. These ideas might have to do with our epistemologies, worldviews, theologies or other key areas of study. Over the next few months I will try and highlight some of these innovations that are not focused or driven by modernity and the progress of technology. We will see how it turns out

Sunday, December 02, 2007

YouTube, GodTube and the art of imitation

I didn't expect it but should have . . . soon after YouTube became very popular out came a Christian version At first no one noticed . . . but as online video distribution has shot through the roof, it is getting some press and attention from the Christian audience.

This Spring I was speaking to a group of journalists on innovation and a Christian journalists asked me why we at HCJB Global weren't using GodTube instead of YouTube. More recently I have had people who question some of the advertised content chastize me for putting things on YouTube.

So where does a site like GodTube fit in to the innovation picture. Along came YouTube and did something incredible - they made video available to the masses in a viral form. This was a true innovation that has impacted many areas of our modern world. Of course now there are many other people who are doing it. YouTube has many competitors including GodTube. But is GodTube innovative? For the most part it looks and feels just like YouTube only with a lower quality experience.

So what is GodTube? Simply put it is marketing. When you have a tool that does the job and someone creates another tool that looks very much like it, the main purpose usually is to focus on one audience in specific. This is not bad at all . . . it is niched marketing. But it is not innovation.

So as you look to create a strategic plan for your video as a ministry, church or personally, what do you put where. It all comes down to audience. If you are looking for a strong evangelical audience go to GodTube. If you are looking for a general audience go to YouTube.

BUT beware . . . usually the audience specific products cannot afford to provide as good of service because they do not have the sheer numbers. So lets say your audience is Christians, you may still engage more of them through YouTube because they are looking for that high quality experience.

Now lets look at the flip side. Because the content is much more controled, if you are looking to market video content to young families, GodTube may be a much better bet because parents will not want their children potentially exposed to some of the negative material on YouTube.

Never let someone convince you that one tool is always better than another. Each has its place. So enjoy the new era of online video - the potential to innovatively deliver your message to people around the world is huge . . . but please think about your audience as you go about your delivery.