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.


José Gabriel said...

I think there are plenty of examples of “Anchor and twist” in the Bible, after all God is the best communicator of all…
But is wonderful to see these technique used in missions on the New Testament. Probably the most remarkable missionary of the New Testament, Paul, has more of it than we can imagine. For example, in Acts 17:28, he is quoting two Greek poems that referred to Zeus. This poem describes a characteristic than can be applied to the real God. So it feels like Paul saying: “This unknown God, I am preaching about is like Zeus, but…” (Anchor and Twist).
Also I like how John uses a well know philosophical term among the Greeks, “the word”. On John 1, the writer takes an amazing risk. He is betting that people will understand what he is trying to say when using this not-Semitic term, but a widely used word in philosophy. Thanks to the Holy Spirit all worked together fine.

… Talking about being innovative…
I wonder if we have enough love for the people we are trying to reach so we can let our prejudices down and try to communicate starting with people’s own cultural knowledge. (After all, the Pentecost wasn’t people from the entire world miraculously understanding some galilees, but some galilees talking to others in their own language).

I hope to find someone like Paul these days, someone that deeply knows the Bible, but also Qumran as well. Then, full of love, he or she might be able to say to the ones submitted to Allah “We are talking about the same God, but…” (After all Allah is the Arab word for the almighty God).

I hope to find someone like John, some that understand the Hindi pantheist, someone that can say “God is everywhere but…”

God is a great communicator. I hope we get the chance to learn from him, to really share love to all people.

PD. I love Japan. Does anyone has any idea on how the “Anchor and Twist” can be used within Japanese culture?

Paul Nethercott said...

Hi Jose! How are you doing?

I think that this concept is probably one of of those universal truths that "work" in all cultures. In Japan for sure! The Japanese tend to be intensely conservative, slow to change, so tying a new idea in with something people already know and relate to is very important.