Sunday, February 22, 2009

Processing New Ideas - Play it Forward and Philanthropic Investing

One of our facebook group members turned me on to a new service that I found very interesting. is a online social reality game where you set up a list of things you want to do to for others, the planet, etc. It has combined the new trends in social justice with reality games in an interesting way.

This site is not Christian, but it does highlight a trend that we as Christians need to understand and leverage. In our post-christian culture, many people are looking for community and for purpose. A site like this provides both. They can connect with others while they fulfill social responsibility.

As we look for the new models in mission to recruit and fund our efforts, it is key to understand trends like this. People around us are looking for community and purpose. However, the tools they will use to find it are different than they used to be.

So the question becomes, how can we connect with people's desire for community and purpose in a way that energizes people for Great Commission work? That's where innovation comes in.

Another great site that leverages new trends is This site allows an average investor to help fund part of a micro loan for someone around the world. Lets say that Rita in Peru wants to start a sewing business. You, sitting in your living room, can lend her 50 dollars and Kiva will work with the micro enterprise organization on the ground to get them the money and to repay you when the loan is up.

This site is combining the eBay approach to shopping with the angel capital efforts of so many. People are saying, "I want to use my money to benefit others but I want to do it through business."

How do you use that for mission purposes?

Here are some thoughts on how to take new ideas and trends and process them innovatively for your efforts:
1. When you see an innovative idea, ask what need it is meeting and who it is serving.
2. If an idea seems to have application to your efforts, define the application clearly and then list out the pieces of their idea that can be brought to bear on your project.
3. When the next huge fad hits, ask why people are jumping on board and list out the keys to its success.
4. Understand the DNA of your project. When you see another innovative idea, compare it to that DNA to see if there is a connection.
5. After you have done your comparison and analysis be willing to let the idea go if it is not a fit with your audience, your goals and your DNA.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Collaborative Innovation

We innovators are a mixed up lot. We hold two very different beliefs strongly:
1. We believe that the person in their garage can create something truly unique.
2. We believe that ideas are sharpened as we collaborate.

But as I have watched the debate around the Stimulus package for the US economy, I have seen these two beliefs hit head on. Each politician has cooked up what they think are the key elements. They throw them into the pot and try to make them better. But as happens many times, the ideas that get thrown in don't always come out better. Sometimes they just get convoluted and watered down.

So how do we bridge these two truths - because there is no doubt that they are both valid.

I think that it has mostly to do with how you go about your innovation. Here's what I mean. If you let an idea develop too long on it's own, collaboration is unlikely. Conversely, if you don't seed a concept into a group, they may not do anything productive.

Timing is critical. You have to give each member enough time to understand the challenge and process, but bring them together before the ideas are no longer pliable. What that suggests to me is that there is a window where ideas are developed enough to be good raw material but not so developed that people can't collaborate.

So what might it look like to define this window. You might ask some of the following questions:
1. What do people need to know/process in order to be valuable collaborators?
2. Do those I am engaging have long-standing opinions and ideas about the topic?
3. Is the idea too far along or the deadline too close to have authentic collaboration?
4. Is collaboration a benefit to this innovation or is the speed of a single innovator more valuable?

As you ask these things, look for that window between individual innovation and collaborative innovation. See what can happen when you are proactive about these two truths.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The List is Live!


We have been on a journey to share 30 ways to be a generous mind in 30 days. The results of the effort are on our generous mind blog. Click here to read all 30!

We hope they bless you,

Jon and Mindy