Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Help us get to 300!

If you are checking out this blog and are also using facebook, take a minute to join our Innovation in Mission group. We are almost to 300 members and you can help us get there.

Click here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=21925728488 or search Innovation in Mission next time you hop on!

See you there.

10 Minutes a Day with Jesus - July 28 - Aug 1

An Authentic Connection
This week we have been talking about authenticity. Can you think of anyone more authentic than Jesus? He brought eternity into our lives in a way that we are still striving to understand.
As you think about how you can be authentic in your innovation work, who better to model than Jesus. The co-editor with me of Innovation in Mission - Jim Reapsome - has a new book out called 10 Minutes a Day with Jesus and it is worth a read.
Jim does an incredible job of giving us bite-sized opportunities to learn more about Jesus and what He has done for us. These short devotionals inspire a day's worth of thought and have been such an encouragement to me when I feel that I don't have any more to give.
So many times Jesus seems like a distant idea, a foreign person so far from our reality. As I read this, I am getting to know Jesus in new ways and realizing how Jesus wants to revolutionize my life with his authentic touch.
I hope you will find this book to be an encouragement as you seek to innovate in your ministry. Jesus is our most powerful example in innovation work and we must seek after Him constantly if we want to be used to unleash authentic innovations for God's glory.

Authentic Innovation

I have been thinking about authenticity recently. It started when I asked God why he doesn't move more powerfully in us at times. As I thought about this, I realized that many times when God moves I immediately focus in on this new exciting thing that is happening and take it over. I am convinced that I can run it better than God!

You know what I mean. How many times does God do something special just to have us come in and build this movement a building, a program, an 8 week curriculum, etc. We don't know what else to do with the God of the Universe on the move. To let Him do His thing would be to loose control of our lives completely - and that is the idea isn't it?

I think there is a powerful application to innovation. God is the ultimate innovator. He is doing incredible new things that are transforming lives and blessing communities. His ways are inherently innovative - we understand only a small piece of who God is and how He thinks. Imagine the endless stream of new ideas that God is capable of revealing in our world.

With this in mind, innovation in mission is about seeking God. If God is the source of our ideas, then those concepts will have an authenticity that we could not develop on our own. Let me give you an example. In the Old Testament, God innovated to create a place for His people Israel. He brought them out of captivity and gave them a land. In that land there was no king - simply a judge that represented God's holy rule. What an innovative model for government! To think that the God of the universe would guide and lead an earthly people.

As this played out, God showed himself faithful and protected Israel. After one such event, the people decided that they needed control. They wanted a king. Samuel tried to convince them that the authentic rule of God was more beneficial than a human king, but they had made up their minds.

How many times do we take a holy idea - authentic to its core - and destroy it as we seek to gain control and power? How many innovations has this destroyed? Who knows, but we do know that God is an endless fount of blessing and He is willing to bless us with many more ideas. IF we will not seek to control and own them.

So what does authentic innovation look like? It is God moving through us to bring about a new idea that will bless many. We participate and God guides it to fruition. Pray that God will move in that way in your ministry today!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Most Relevant Missions Topic

I have been doing a poll on this site for the past months about the most relevant topic in missions. Here are the results:

The Most Relevant Topic in Missions today is . . .
- Church Planting (13%)
- Business as Mission (20%)
- Strategic Partnerships (6%)
- Equipping Local Believers (60%)

What does this say about where we need innovation? Well, one thing it says is that we need to be innovating in how organizations empower and equip effectively. How are you innovating in this area?

More to come . . .

Book of the Week - July 14-18

10 Rules for Strategic Innovators

This book is a solid help - specifically if you are trying to innovate within a legacy organization. I blogged about this book a bit last week, but it is worth mentioning again.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Insurgency and the Establishment

To be involved in innovation takes a willingness to do things differently. It takes a fighting heart that can push through on change even when it is hard. It takes a sensitivity to people that allows you to empower them in the creative process.

To do these types of things, you have to be an insurgent. You have to be willing to forget the old ways of doing something and at the same time borrow all the good of the old.

Your main struggle as an innovator will be against the establishment. The establishment is the system that works wonderfully today but is not thinking about how the world must change.

So here is the question, how can you have an insurgent's heart within an establishment world? They are not mutually exculsive. In fact, some of the greatest innovations came out of the center of the old, established organizations/industries/cultures.

One of the great examples is Corning. This company has reinvented itself dozens of times creating new markets and new products that have revolutionized our world. From light bulbs to Corningware, to fiber optics and now LCD screens. They are an example of an established company who has an insurgent culture capable of amazing innovation. To see a timeline of their innovation click here.

One of the key ideas that I would like to highlight in this process is one that is shared in a book called Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators: From idea to execution. It is key for insurgents within established organizations. The authors call it "NewCo" and "CoreCo." The idea is simple. Your core company - CoreCo - can create new initiatives - NewCo - if it is strategic. There are two key lessons to learn if you are trying to start something new within an established organization.

Borrow - They say that we must borrow key infrastructure that will help us succeed. For instance if your ministry has a warehouse, your new initiative should use it to store key products/materials instead of outsoucing and spending more money.

Forget - They say that we must forget the old ways things have been done. So if your ministry has a traditional way of doing a certain thing, you must forget it and reimagine it for your new needs.

If your desire is to begin a NewCo within a CoreCo, the other key thing for you to consider is how you structure your initiative. If it is too connected to the old, it won't make it. A CoreCo manager will never make the necessary sacrifices for a NewCo initiative. If it is too disconnected you won't have the advantages of all that infrastructure. The key is high level leaders who support the NewCo but empower it to grow and develop the way it needs to.

So here is the question, what can you do to create the right environment to lead an insurgency within your established organization?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Innovation Book of the Week - July 7-11

As you consider how to take an idea you have and really connect it with others, a must read is Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

This book helps you identify what a message or idea needs to have to be memorable and actionable.



Saturday, July 05, 2008

Anchor and Twist

So many times when we come up with a new idea, we then go about trying to sell it to the world. We make powerpoints, design logos, create descriptions, write case studies and on and on.

Two of my favorite innovation writers (Dan and Chip Heath - who wrote Made to Stick) have a new concept that I think can really help missions innovators. The call it Anchor and Twist.

The concept is very easy. Instead of trying to explain your new idea from scratch, you start with something people know, relate it to your idea and then add the twist. This allows people to quickly relate your idea to something that they have seen before, but creates the distinctive quickly. This is tricky, but can be very powerful.

Lets take a very easy example. We recently purchased a small high definition flat panel television. For some the difference between analog and digital is still a bit unclear. But try this, "The picture looks like what you see on your flat panel computer monitor at work only it has an antenna hookup in the back." Almost everyone now has flat computer monitors, so they know what those are. But none of theirs have a place for an antenna to hook up. So you anchored your idea in something they knew and twisted it to describe the new item.

Lets us a missions example. As many of you might know, a staple in communicating missions in North America has been the "dinner event." They are banquets where people come to hear about what God is doing around the world. These tools were and still can be very effective for awareness and communication. One of the centerpieces for a missions banquet is always the "compelling video." Lets say I am trying to introduce our YouTube videos and explain how they might be used to communicate to people interested in missions. I could either go into a long explanation of online video, the demographics, the stats etc, or I could say, "Putting our missions videos on online videos on sites like YouTube are like a virtual missions banquet with a 24/7 program." I have anchored the YouTube video in a familiar concept for many people involved in missions but twisted it with they reality that they are available all the time.

What innovative concept are you working to present today? How could you apply this concept of "Anchor and Twist" to help people understand and grapple with it more effectively. Remember that the amount of work you do up front to define and explain will go a long way towards adoption as you work with you idea.