Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is your innovation getting lost in between generations?

So let me share with you two situations that I have found all too common. Both of them lead to the stifling of innovation . . . but for different reasons.

Situation 1
A young person full of energy has been up most of the night talking with a friend or two. During that conversation an idea was born. Now that this young person has had some sleep and is properly caffeinated, they go into work and share the idea with an older boss/co-worker/mentor/etc. They excitedly share the 5 minute version of the long discussion and then wait for input. Their eye's dull quickly as the other person shares how they tried something like that 10 years ago with no success and how it would no better work today.

Situation 2
An older person and a younger person are in a meeting at church, a non-profit, a business or any other inter-generational setting. The older person throws some input from their experience into the situation with a desire to see the group learn from their experience. The younger people listen politely and then go on with the discussion without seriously considering the other's idea.

This happens all the time. I didn't use actual years because 1) I would immediately get in trouble for what I consider "old" :) and 2) young and old can vary dramatically in the situations I shared above.

The biggest concern I have related to Kingdom Innovation is that both the energy of young innovators and the wisdom of older innovators are being ignored. In the end amazing ideas are thrown out, not improved on or at least discouraged.

It seems silly that this happens. Both generations know the other has a lot to offer. One is seen as the authority and the other is seen as the future leaders. But for many reasons we do not take advantage of the new thinking of one and the wealth of experience in the other. We also can't imagine a world where the older generation might have the new thinking and the younger generation might have more experience.

So I want to bravely offer these tips as you innovate across generations:
1. Look for a mentor and look to mentor another - no matter what age you are!
2. Take every idea seriously and ask God to show you which ones need to be pursued.
3. Hang out with people in different generations and learn . . . always be learning.
4. Study history because we know no idea is truly new.
5. Look to the future because we know that God has new things for us to do each day.

So how will you use the inter-generational environments you find yourself in to be a better Kingdom worker and innovator?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Innovators own a piece of the conversation

If you look at the research about social media from Forrester in the book Groundswell, you see that most people are content to watch the conversation of others. I'm sure there are many reasons for that. Some are worried about saying the wrong things and others don't want to invest the time. I understand those reasons, BUT I'm here to tell you that if you want to be an innovator YOU don't have that option.

What do I mean? If you want to be an innovator in Kingdom work, you have to own your part of the conversation. That means you have to identify the cause you care about and the area your innovation will focus on and speak into it. In other words, you need to be generous with the area you are studying, working and living in. Only as you own that piece of the conversation, engage others with your ideas and connect with other thinkers will you have the right to present your innovation.

Gone are the days when you went into your garage one day and came out 2 years later with the perfect widget. Today, you have to speak your idea into the community of people who care and work with them to refine and develop it. That might mean that you blog, or that you have a group on facebook or that you even have a group of associates/friends in real life that you brainstorm with. Whatever that looks like for you, it is essential.

But many people will be thinking, "I don't have any avenues for engaging my sphere of influence on the Kingdom innovations that I am working on!" That is a problem. But today I have one option that I want to challenge each of you to consider.

I hope most of you have heard about Lausanne's Third World Congress happening in Cape Town, South Africa this year. This is one of the most significant events to catalyze innovation and thought for global evangelism. I believe that the conversations that are happening right now in their Global Conversation site are key to many new ministry innovations that will launch in the coming years.

At the request of the Lausanne team and as I prayed about how I might help this movement, I am coordinating the Lausanne Bloggers Network. This select group of 50-100 bloggers from around the world will have access to content and speakers and will get the chance to engage their audiences with the ideas coming out of the movement's Global Conversation. This is an amazing platform for you to own a piece of the conversation.

I would love to see 5 or 6 people from our Innovation in Mission team be a part of this network. Please read more about it HERE and contact me through this blog or through the Lausanne link in this sentence to find out more and see if you are a fit for the network.

I believe that this opportunity is going to launch some exciting new voices and help other voices to engage their audiences in the cause of global evangelism.

So here is my question: Is this a platform that God might use as you strive to innovate for Him?