Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Yellow Box: Focused Relationships

About 3 weeks ago I connected with a good friend from high school that I had not spoken to for over 19 years through Facebook. As a matter of fact, I had not communicated with anyone from my high school for over seven years. Because I didn't care? No. I think for a lot of reasons… I moved, pace of life, new friends enter the scene, and suddenly it's 19 years later. But as I look at the relationships around me and through the years, here are some observations:

  • There are a few hundred people I would like to stay in contact with, grab lunch, play golf you name it- I genuinely love these people.... however, I have to settle to celebrate what they do from a distance.
  • For example, some of my neighbors within 800 yards of my house I would like to get to know better. Yet it only comes in small drips.
  • People we "do life with" tend to change and drift from year to year.
  • I can only seem to get depth in 6-10 relationships at any given point in my life.

The Yellow Box (above) represents my purpose in life, my passion, and what I was created to do.

Relationships and people matter. I can spend some quality time with scores of people and it's all good. But something special in relationships happen when they enter the yellow box. It's not about news, sports, and weather- it's living life on purpose. It's not living a life entertained and growing old, it's climbing a mountain of mission and locking arms with people. What does this look like in your life? Do you know who's in your yellow box right now? Are you spending too much time outside the box? Or, are you still determining what your yellow box is?

Merry Christmas family and friends. I love doing life with you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Maximeyer Fantasy Football Champs!

Special thanks to Tony Romo and Matt Forte for leading the charge this year... "We...are the champions.... my friends...."

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Grumpy, Annoying, High-Maintenance Customers

Customers can be manipulative, grumpy, demanding, unreasonable, ridiculous, frustrating, rude, high maintenance, make you want to roll your eyes, and apparently even eat your laptop. Today I met with one of our challenging clients… and I loved it.

  • Tough customers are candid- you get the opportunity to get real feedback on how their experience is with your organization. Worse: You lose a client and don't know for several months, they simply fade away without a sound.

  • They will make the small cracks in your organization will look like gaping canyons- it can bring clarity to what you need to work on internally. Worse: You drudge along thinking you're doing "good enough" and don't fix what's actually broke.

  • If you can keep these clients and turn them into "fans"- you're taking steps to raise the bar of service with your team. Worse: Make excuses of why they're just crazy and let them go to a competitor.

  • These clients force you to be on your "A" game, ready to respond and find solutions. Worse: Walk on egg-shells with the client with a defensive disposition- this will simply make your already sub-par service worse.

Yes, there are times when you simply need to let a client go- it's just not financially viable to try to keep them. However, if you listen- there are valuable nuggets to take from these encounters. How are you responding to your customer-aches?

If by rare chance Mr. Customer you read this post. Thank you for your time and feedback today- you've helped us become a little bit better company today. I hope to get the chance to continue the dialogue in these upcoming weeks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't Be That Couch- Andy Stanley

  • A couch was purchased to have a place to sit- It becomes an emotional attachment over time that lingers around even when it becomes outdated and irrelevant. We keep it around too long.... how does this apply to your church, business, team.... ?

  • Leadership styles are going to vary, there is no cookie- cutter- don't spend all your time trying to mirror other people's style- press into your own God-given flavor-
  • If we were to start completely over, would we still choose to be doing the things we're currently doing?
  • Church programming is created to meet a specific need-
  • As programming begins as an answer to a question, over time it becomes part of a church's organizational culture- (makes them difficult to change but may not be needed or is no longer effective any more)
  • As culture changes, the methods will need to change but the questions tend to stay the same
  • As leaders we're called to lead people to see things the way we see them- otherwise we'll never be able to get them to do what needs to be done to make a difference-
  • If we institutionalize an answer, the day will come that it will no longer be an an answer
  • "I want to help you think differently"- we need to see the "couch" in our ministry/business differently
  • We need to be more committed to our mission than our programming or model. Programming and models can become old, outdated couches we get emotionally attached to...
  • Over time, sustaining the model becomes the mission... When you fall in love with anything other than the mission- you can quickly lose focus on God's original mission for you
  • The model can begin to work against the mission- as leaders we need to monitor this- when we see this beginning, we need to lead our team/organization back to the mission-
  • What have we fallen in love with that's not as effective as it used to be?
  • Where are we manufacturing energy? Having to pretend or manufacture enthusiasm for something that just isn't that good...
  • If a new person came into our church or organization, what is it that they would scrap and get rid of because they're able to see it for what it really is? No emotional attachment... Do you have the ability to stay objective and pull the plug on things that need to be over?
  • What are our organizational assumptions? Leaders must bring these assumptions in alignment with changes in the external environment. The world changes... our assumptions become wrong over time...
  • Don't try to tweak things that are broken...they'll still be broken.
  • The assumptions a team have held the longest or deeply are likely to be the things that become its undoing- Why churches don't change- What are the things that are "off limits" for debate? Beware....
  • What assumptions are false?
  • :Example: We assume people want to sit in rows and listen to a speaker.
  • Example: We assume Christians love to worship by singing songs they don't know that well.
  • Which assumptions are true but are not being fully leveraged?
  • To reach people no one else is reaching we need to do things no one else is doing...
  • How do you get rid of couches when people aren't on board yet? You need to lead them through the process, may take time.
  • Fresh eyes are needed at times to come in and point out the couches in our life, ministry, or organization...

Creating Spiritual Momentum- Craig Groeschel

  • How to Develop Personal Spiritual Momentum- Craig Groeschel
    "I will do today what I can do today to enable me to do tomorrow what I can’t do today."

    4 Things You Can Do Today:

Identify my leadership dark side and do something to combat it today

  • Too competitive, prideful, hesitant?
  • Fear of lack- not having enough- Then give more.
  • Nervous about a neighboring church: Drop off an offering
  • Nervous/insecure? Ask 3 people to speak bluntly into your life
  • God’s key blessing in your ministry/life may come through your dark side

Create Artificial Deadlines- put limits on time

  • Ex: Video team- can spend 100’s of hours on a project- tell them they have 15 hours
  • Shorter, purposeful days can be more productive
  • Can create white space, think time- spiritual growth

Delegate what someone else can do

  • Don’t delegate responsibilities- delegate authority
  • Responsibilities creates followers, authority creates leaders
  • If you don’t delegate authority, you won’t attract great leaders
  • High control- low growth Low control- high growth
  • A little bit of chaos is worth it

Do something only You Can Do

  • You’re the only one who can:
  • Care for yourself
  • Recharging activities
  • Take time off
  • Spending time with God
  • Eating right and exercising
  • Honoring God in private ways
  • Be a husband to your wife or a Dad/Mom to your kids
  • Pride leads to thinking I’m the only one who can do something
  • Poor leadership leads to inability to delegate and build new leaders around me
  • Balance is not realistic- but plan recovery time on the backside of a stressful period

    “Most people want what others have but aren’t will to do what others did.”

Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes: Craig Groeschel

Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes: Craig Groeschel

  • Similar to when you have kids- your mindset changes
    5 Mindset Changes:
    · Think Differently About Our Church/Organization Culture
  • Complaint: “Our People won’t _______ “
  • SOLUTION: We have not led them to ________ . We have not led them to the desired results.
  • Pray, God make me _______- whatever the leadership quality needed to break out of the stuck culture…. Lead by example.
  • Think Differently About Programming
  • Evaluate “true” effectiveness- what is actually creating spiritual growth?
  • What is actually creating profit and positive customer experiences?
  • Do less, do what you can be the best in the world- Reach more by doing less.
    · Think Differently About Your Mission
  • Are we about our mission or guarding people’s feelings?
  • We can’t allow someone to hold back the mission of the church.
  • On our staff- who is it that is a blockade to the mission?
    · Think Differently About People Leaving the Church
  • We can grow when people leave
  • We can make it difficult for the wrong people to leave
  • Allows the gripers and grumblers to leave
  • Churches need to be confident in who they are like a dating relationship- that culture is attractive
    · Think Differently About Limitations
  • Many times your greatest blessing is going to come from your greatest limitation
  • Great leaders see opportunities while others see limitations

  • Find someone a few steps ahead of me and find out how they “think”- How do they think/process? Value understanding how one thinks over how they “do” something
  • Identify one painful decision that you’ve been avoiding and commit to making the right decision no matter what the short-term effect may be
  • Lead by example. Am I modeling what I want my team to be doing?

Gaining & Sustaining Momentum- Andy Stanley

  • Gaining and Sustaining Momentum

  • If you have momentum, you need to identify why you have it- otherwise you’re one stupid decision away from losing it
  • Businesses that lose momentum immediately have meetings, planning to try to get it back, churches will allow years to go by to not identify it as long as they’re paying the bills
  • Churches with momentum need to consider that there are particular systems and decisions that are creating it- "I don't know, God is just blessing us" is an incomplete analysis.
    · New, Improved, Improving- 3 Elements of Sustaining Momentum
  • “New” triggers momentum
  • Momentum can be positive OR negative
  • Negative event/negative momentum .. think 9-11
  • Negative event/positive momentum ....People give, heroes appear
  • Negative circumstances are the great soil for positive momentum- Negative economy…=
  • Positive event/positive momentum- New sports stadium
  • Funny: When a pastor leaves it can create negative or positive momentum
    · Organizational Triggers to momentum: New leadership, direction, or product
    · If an organization lacks momentum, ask:"do we need new leader, direction, or product?" Churches tend to go right to new leader….
  • Momentum is never triggered created by tweaking something old, it’s about launching something new-
  • NEW must be a NOTICEABLE improvement- New AND improved- You can’t just name something different to create momentum
  • Is this a significant improvement over what we did before? SIGNIFICANT- ask the questions… If it’s not SIGNIFICANT…. Don’t do it.
  • You would rather have 2 things with momentum over 10 without momentum… Gets back to what we can do really really well….
  • Even significant improvement has a shelf-life… Never feels new & improved forever
  • Momentum is sustained by continuous improvement… THINK New products… “New and Improved” I stick with a brand when I believe they’re going to be continuously improving…they’re on the cutting edge always improving their product…
  • Continuous improvement requires systematic, regular evaluation
    · Work to continuously improve not because you got complaints… it’s so you never get complaints…
    · Unfiltered evaluation- Nobody and nothing off-limits for potential improvement
    · Let’s make Sunday better on Sunday! After first service filtering…
    · New personel, programming, season, series, look, venues
    · Look for ways to upgrade presentations
    · Attend other organizations

  • Disengaged leader
  • Overactive management
  • Managers want to take chaos into predictability
  • Leaders break all the rules
  • Don’t put managers in leadership, don’t put leaders in management (types)
  • Momentum requires margin and un-predictability- managers can’t be allowed to kill momentum by working to keep things predictable-
  • Complacency
  • Complexity- (one reason why there’s success in church start-ups…) Older organizations add complexity that sometimes needs to be stripped away-
  • Breach of trust- moral failure
    Q & A:
  • The "creators" of what is being evaluated need to be in the evaluation and guided through the "why" of the changes being made or programs being cut
  • Life-cycle of programs/seasons- the younger the audience the shorter the cycles, high school, singles, etc Ask How long can we run it before we need to shut it down?
  • We gave God credit for everything, anything bad was always the devil- we were left with no principles to find what God was blessing
  • We pray for wisdom- God works through people, Noah still had to build the ark, the disciples still had to go out and preach
  • Much more resources are needed to get initial momentum than sustaining (flywheel concept)
  • Complexity: When there’s a great idea you can’t do because of “us”- then your/our organization is looking complex-
  • Systems create behaviors…. What system is required to yield the desired behavior?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Missing Piece: Finish

5K races don't mean much if you only run 3 miles. A 14 foot free throw doesn't score any points. In the work place, those who can be finishers stand out from the crowd and people take notice. The halls and cubicles where you work are full of people that get projects and tasks 80-90% complete. You want to stand out and be a performer? Finish.

3 Ways to be a Finisher:

  • Look for an opportunity to take an initiative that has been stalling out or hanging incomplete at work. Take it, and in your mind make yourself 100% responsible. Do what it takes to get it done and done well. Want to be normal? Be cynical and roll your eyes at how the project is just another company objective that will never get done...
  • In meetings and conversations, be the best note taker- pay attention and get the details of what needs to be done whether it's your responsibility or not. Help remind people of the tasks to do, priorities at hand, and assist people by reminding then what needs to get done. Normal is people on your team missing details leaving projects incomplete, clients unhappy, and money uncollected. Fill in the cracks for your team so your team finishes strong.
  • Be willing to make a decision. Everyday there are scores of emails and conversations filled with questions, hurdles, and excuses. Bring clarity and be solution oriented... take those things that are spinning and bring them to a finish line. What's normal? Add to the confusion, be vague, ask questions that seem really smart but just keep things undone, offer more reasons why something can't be done and how you don't have enough information. Hide in the multitudes of 80%.

There are incomplete puzzles all around your work, embedded in your emails, and with your clients. What will you do?

Being a finisher comes with a price. You're going against the grain and at times it exposes "the normal" in others. People on your team will get defensive and will even go behind your back. Stay the course. Just keep doing.

At the end of the day, if you're truly "for" your team and focused on the mountain your team is trying to climb- you'll find purpose and growth in your work and in your life.

Friday, October 24, 2008

How to be "Real" Rich

I can't believe I'm going to repeat this, but my Dad always said..."Be rich in the things money can't buy"... I don't know how many times I rolled my eyes at that growing up (the last time was probably a few weeks ago.. :) but... OK... uh... it's true.

I was reminded by this from a new blog I read by Larry Jones. He is a maximizer and is right on... If we're told "money is the root of all evil" then we better know how to root out that evil... Check out his site... no sense for me to ramble about it's already been said...

As Christ-followers, if we're fretting around like everyone else in these crazy economic times... We're missing a phenominal opportunity to step-up and step-in....

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Open Letter to Mr. Wealthy Banker"

Mr. or Mrs. Banker:

You've been receiving an increasing amount of bad press for the millions you've earned in salaries and bonuses despite the meltdown of the very entity you led. Millions of us who are part of the "have much less" masses don't understand the lifestyle afforded to you while "Main Street" is suffering, losing their homes, their jobs, and their retirement accounts.

I believe this is a time of great opportunity for you. Our expectation is that you know the "system" much better than any of us, that you'll continue on in amassing piles of fortune for your years on this earth, and if you did participate in some type of wrong-doing, you're going to get away with it. What an opportunity to do the unexpected.

Give 80% (or greater) of the earnings you've made over the past 5-10 years directly to the situation at hand. Too little of a step would risk being simply "trite" or even more insulting. If you've made $100 million in the past 5 years:
  • Purchase 500 homes that are listed in foreclosure or are upside down in value for $80 million, rent these homes to the original owners for a substantially discounted rate so they have the opportunity to get back on their feet.

  • Provide $4,000 in funds paid directly towards the mortgages for 20,000 homes from your institution to help people catch-up on their payments that are behind. 20,000 families could be helped!

  • Or some other alternative that would best help the situation, there would be several options. You could form a great team to come up with a creative plan.

Would this make sense financially for you? No. Might your lawyers warn against this concept as a potential for an appearance of guilt? Yes. In fact many or all of your closest advisors will tell you you're crazy. Will there be millions of skeptics rolling their eyes at you thinking you're "up to something" and it's not enough? Unfortunately, yes.

But, you will be leading. Despite the naysayers, millions also will regain hope in people and will be forever inspired by your actions (myself included). Thousands of families will have a glimmer of hope rather than being faced with desperate, hopeless choices. You may inspire others to take similar actions which will only lead to more hope and changed lives. And while pundits may question, you will know your real story.

Will it be you? Will you take this courageous step? Your life forever will be changed and I would challenge to say it would be the greatest financial achievement in your life.

I am watching with anticipation.


Mark Meyer.... and I suspect thousands or millions of others....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wisdom from Warren Buffet

"A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."- Warren Buffet

Lesson: Observe what the masses are doing and consider an authentic distinction to do exactly the opposite.

How many times have you been part of a meeting talking about what the competition is doing and the reaction is to adopt a "we do that also" strategy?

  • While the masses dread Monday at work, find a way to love it.
  • When no one wants to deal with a particular client, be the one to ask for that account.
  • While everyone is looking for fuel efficient vehicles, look for a ridiculously low priced SUV
  • If everyone's cutting their lawns with vertical lines, go horizontal...or better yet, put in astro-turf
  • When people are panicked about the economy, have peace knowing our God will provide
  • When all insurance agents send out calendars with mug-shots of themselves to their clients, send all your clients $5 Starbucks cards and offer to meet them for coffee
  • When one candidate for President is for a $700 Billion bailout, be the candidate against it with a confident, thoughtful plan B

It's time to go launch a mortgage company. Thanks for the reminder Mr. Buffet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Looking out for #1"

When our economy is imploding, stock market tumbles 2400 points, jobless claims are up, and I'm not excited about the vision of either of our two candidates for president.... every part of me is looking to be safe, conservative, pull-back, and create financial contingency plans.

Is that what we're called to do? As both Kem and I are employed and haven't had our circumstances change, scores of people around us are hurting with job loss and dire choices.

If we have an extra couple hundred bucks a month right now- do we put it in savings for our own security or do we try to help some people in need?

I'm simply struck by my natural instinct to look out for #1.

Yet... I get this "sense" that we should share our last piece of pie every month with someone else... What are we called to do? What are you doing in these turbulent times?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why bad things happen to good people.

Test post from today's service.

Moblogging is da bomb.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Do What You Fear"

This picture was from Thursday of this week at the Innovate Conference at Granger Community Church. When I'm in a drama, here are my typical emotions and thoughts that come in my head:
  • When I have an upcoming drama, it's a feeling of pressure, anxiety, and "I'll feel a lot better when I get this over with..."
  • I obsess about practice. I practice facial expressions in the mirror, I'm doing my lines in the car on the way to work, at lunch, home from work, before I go to bed, and any other white space of opportunity to run them...
  • The day of the drama, I don't like talking to people much... Whatever I can do to maintain some sort of concentration, I try to do it...
  • The moments before the drama backstage, I'm praying to God that I don't bomb my lines and trying to tell myself to have fun and actually enjoy it... all the while my heart rate is escalating, and I'm experiencing shortness of breath as I'm creeping into character...
  • While actually delivering the lines, I often have other thoughts in my head that have nothing to do with the drama at all- "Huh, I wonder if the Cowboys have the early or late game today?" That's a scary reality when standing in front of 1000 people...
  • I'm afraid of blowing my lines, letting down my team, letting down my church, how I would look, being bad, doing it for the wrong reasons...and on and on...
  • Until the final drama is done... I'm usually not having much fun, each service is a small win.

So why do I put myself through the misery? One reason among many is that it forces me to do something I fear. I once read, "Do what you fear and you control fear"- I believe that was Tom Hopkins in "The Art of Selling"...

I've really reflected a lot on my fears and how they limit and/or derail me in pursing the purposes God has put me here to carry out. There is a direct correlation to our leadership capacity and our ability to deal with fear in our lives.

Here are some of mine that I deal with:

  • I will over-analyze a decision to avoid a fear of making the wrong decision.
  • I will not speak my opinion in a meeting, conference call, or conversation for fear of looking dumb or worrying about what others may think.
  • I fear being wrong, sounding wrong, looking wrong, and will do what I can to avoid it.
  • I won't introduce myself to strangers for fear of what they may think.

There are so many more... In my past, I've blown my lines and it was awful. But greatness in this life will not come without screwing up, tough struggle, and the perseverance to keep on keeping on... How do you deal with your fears? Are you able to look inward and know what they are? If we can free ourselves from our anchor's of fear, what might God do through us?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Doing the Splits at Work?"

If I did this, I would have a completely different look on my face.

There are times when our roles may shift at work... If done too early or without the right process, you or people on your team can end up in this position...

Have you ever felt this way at your organization? Here are some observations of doing the "splits" at work:
  • If you begin doing a role at work before you have any authority to do the role, you may feel some pain for taking it on too early.
  • You can fake it for only so long... this guy has a determined look on his face now... I'd like to see him in an hour...
  • With growth comes change. With change comes some pain.
  • Not everyone can do the splits at your organization, there comes a need to have people that are flexible for a short period of time.
  • Leaders, managers... are you doing this to anyone on your team? If so, don't leave them "exposed" too long.
  • Are you doing the splits currently? It's better to have a conversation with the decision maker(s) and manage one post well than to drown trying to hold on to both...
  • Clarity is important as roles shift- those impacted need to understand the changes and what adjustments they may need to make.
  • Leaders, when you have done all the analysis of the changes, commit to it, support it, and keep casting the vision to your team. When you're the one doing the "splits", it just confuses your people and well, let's just say you don't look like this guy...
  • Have both feet in with change, don't keep one foot in the past.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"The Intervention- Kem Meyer Goes Dark"

If you haven't heard already- my wife Kem turns 40 tomorrow so we launched a birthday "weekend" experience that kicked off Friday, Aug 29th- "the party continues" details are here on Kem's blog which was.... oh yeah... HIJACKED!

The first thing we did when she wasn't looking was grab her phone out of her purse, threw her purse in our car (which was already packed) and left town without it! There's something you should know... Kem is "nomophobic"- addicted to Twitter, her phone, keeping up with peeps, A.D.D., and "navigating" through this has been a real intervention... :)

Here are new things and favorite comments from the weekend so far:
  • "Hey, you took my fun..uh... I mean phone!" .... nice Freudian...
  • I asked, "Do you trust me?".... She responded... "Quite a bit"... (What's that supposed to mean, quite a bit? :)
  • She reiterated.... "You know I specifically asked that I not be surprised..."- Ruh-roe... that might be a problem.... :) (We've since been counseling while on the adventure of how surprises are fun for other people too, the kids... I'm trying to spin this the best I can... any ideas?

  • "I can handle being without my phone but I just need to understand WHY"... hmm...well let's see... I can't tell you your blog has been hijacked and the whole world knows what the plan is.... but... uh... how about back to... "Do you trust me?"... (I've been trying to pull on her emotional cords...)

  • Another line I've tried with minimal success..."By taking you out of your normal environment, you get to learn things about yourself that you may not otherwise know.."

I'm sure we'll have more to come.... special thanks to Mandy and Melisa (@melisajohnson in Twitter) for keeping the world up-to-date on the weekend activities and blog heist! Let the fun continue!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Session 9: Bill Hybels- "Relentless"

re·lent·less Session 9: Bill Hybels- "Relentless"
that does not relent; unyieldingly severe, strict, or harsh; unrelenting:

  • God searches the whole world looking for hearts fully committed to Him.. there He sends His strength and power...
  • Mother Theresa decided to "refuse Him nothing"... What does it look like in my life to give God cart blanche' authority in my life?
  • Takes steps to move time and resources out of day to day worldly pursuits and more into His work...
  • Embrace callings from God without delay- Lives are lived with regret with "If only I had listened", "If only I had acted"... reflections in life...
  • Every leader can tell stories about how their dream almost died... It should come as no surprise when this happens to you (obstacles beyond your control, overwhelming circumstances)
  • How do I know when I hit obstacles if I missed what God called me to do or when God is working on His own time line? Be very careful when in this era....
  • Mother Theresa was amazingly relentless... just to be allowed to "start" her calling...
  • Outlast the problems, the obstacles, the people in the way- Who knows what God may do if you hang onto the calling- We must endure... Sometimes the calling may only come once in a lifetime...
  • Be relentless about becoming a Godly leader... be relentless to be someone worth following.
  • Mother Theresa: "I will seek to love Him as He has never been loved"- said in one of her "dry" times in her life...
  • Much of life can be lived without feeling the "presence" of God. Mother Theresa felt this... Hybels is honest about the same feelings..
  • Very powerful video.... "Here am I, send me..."-
  • "What life are you waiting for to finally step up and step into God's call for your life?"-BH


  • Am I living in a way that will allow me to hear God's call for me and His purpose in my life?
  • There are some phenominal "causes" I've seen in this summit... yet I don't feel any nudging to jump into them- When do you know a trigger has been pulled in your life? When do you know when it's YOUR calling?
  • I think one of the hardest challenges of a vision/call/idea is having the persistance to go on while many people close to you are telling you all the reasons why it doesn't make sense...
  • Why does God's presence seem absent so much of the time?
  • God.... "Here am I.... send me...."
  • So... is it us? Do we sit back waiting for God to just do stuff, say stuff, and take care of stuff....or... are we really His plan?

Session 8: Brad Anderson- "An Uncompromising Focus on People"

Brad Anderson, Vice-Chairman/CEO Best Buy

"An Uncompromising Focus on People"
  • He worked in one of the stores for 2 days last year- he's willing to get on the front lines
  • At one point, they told employees what to do and told stores how to operate- they hoped they were actually doing it-
  • Feedback, 11-12 questions, twice a year from employees- they're able to measure engagement level- typically this produces a direct correlation to store sales and profitability...
  • How do you increase engagement? Leaders are needed to raise the engagement levels of their team/employees for the store to increase profitability/sales-
  • People are looking for affirmation of themselves- True leaders get a true, higher level of achievement by seeing others grow/succeed than out of their own personal success....
  • Human capital- Are we building people or destroying people? It's one or the other-
  • Geek Squad- They took the stereotype over-the-top... they knew, "Yeah, we're nerdy..but you need us..." They brought in their own culture into Best Buy...
  • Much of what he does is simply working on the relationships within the company and with clients- he gets complex puzzles- (human beings) scheduled every day- So much of what he does it building into the people around him, handling their needs, pains, frustrations...
  • He sees problems/issues in the eyes of his leaders usually well before it starts hitting the bottom line.... He tries to spend his time with the people with the biggest need/impact.
  • 85% of his time is leading down, 15% up (to the board).... self admitted problem...
  • Many times there aren't "villians" in the problems at's simply driven by the realities in the work at hand...
  • To motivate: How are they "coding" what they're doing- helping them find the motivation with the reminder of the "why" behind what they're doing....
  • Financial incentives work to an extent but they are "thin", they're not complete...
  • ROWE- Result Oriented Work Environment.... You get the work done, you can have the flexibility you want.... currently, they're seeing better results from those who have more freedom-
  • He feels he can share faith when given "permission" with employees/colleagues-


  • How often do we work so hard to be cool when we'd progress much better being the unique geek we really are?
  • How difficult it seems to balance how to share faith in the position of leadership like Brad's and trying to measure and listen to the Holy Spirit-

Session 7: Risk Taking, Barrier Breaking, Bold Leadership: Catherine Rohr

Session 7: Risk Taking, Barrier Breaking, Bold Leadership

Catherine Rohr
Prison Entrepreneurship Program

  • Was earning 200K a year at age 25... got an invite to see prisoners, saw potential in them, began teaching business to them, creating business plans, and helping them in their next steps...
  • Simple prayer...."Bring it on God"...
  • Emptied 401K to fund the ministry, moved to Texas, car got broken into, and started with nothing. She had the "opportunity" to be cleared out...
  • "I've benefited from 'ignorance is bliss'"- CR
  • "God has better plans for me than I do- I just need to chill out and give up control"- CR
  • 1 of 15 in US go to prison...
  • Society contributes to it by labeling them as "Ex-con"- Christians are Grace-junkies...yet today it seems like we don't want to have anything to do with them
  • They recruit prisoners, break down barriers, and put them through a business boot camp..
  • They've achieved a single-digit return rate compared to over 50% nationally...
  • 70% of graduates are doners to the program after they're out...
  • Don't put all your eggs in one relational basket, get exposure, visibility to the mission
  • "We're not trying to take a dope dealer, give them business skills, so that they can become a better dope dealer"-CR
  • Handling Criticism: Don't let my emotions get in the way of my business... yet, be honest if it's valid feedback... Invite feedback- seek it out...
  • Self-leadership- She lets someone actually manage her life closely- Sacrifice privacy for accountability.
  • PEP is working hard not to get too spread out (like to open up to new markets, the homeless, women, etc)... Staying focused... Waiting to find leaders prior to expanding...
  • Deep level of ownership, they hire from within... they get what it means to be willing to die for something..
  • They do a great job of speaking vision into these prisoners lives, they strongly respect and ask a lot of these men... they challenge them and raise their bar....
  • Catherine has got "IT".


  • Several testimonies from this minsitry just remind me again.... how can one deny the incredible life change Christ brings?
  • Jesus.... "Bring it on."

Session 6: Defending the Faith: Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson : Defending the Faith

Prison Fellowship Ministries

Author: The Faith (currently reading)

  • "I wish we took our faith as serious as the Marines take their job"- CC
  • #1 test of leadership: Serve your people - #2- Give them the greater vision #3- "Follow me"
  • Your job is not to pander to your people, it's to lead them-
  • 57% of evangelicals say that Christ is not the only way to heaven- it's a misunderstanding of "tolerance"
  • Two truth claims cannot be both true. They can both be false, but not true.
  • People are in prison because the lack of moral training during the moral formative years.
  • In the US, are we in "Babylonian" captivity?
  • What is Christianity? It is a world-view to see all of life through... it's not just a religion, a belief in Christ, or fellowship.... Every area of life is under the lordship of Jesus Christ
  • 14 core truths of our Faith... here are some of them....
  • #1- God Is- There is a God- we're not alone or an accident
  • #2- We have His Word - Inerrant Word of God
  • #3- The Fall- we live in a fallen world with free will
  • #4- The Incarnation- Birth of Christ defeated a real enemy Satan- He came to die for us. A conversion is Christ in me, not me picking/choosing
  • #5- A Triune God- One God, Father/Son/Holy Spirit
  • #6- We're Reconciled to One Another- unity of the Body- community- "I don't go to church, I belong to church"
  • #7- We need to live holy- Our works should reflect our Faith
  • #8- There will be Judgement- (We live by revealed Truth)
  • How can you "impose" a belief- we "propose"... we're not about theocracy, we're about freedom... It's an invitation that rests of sound premises that are tested and true...


  • Clearly our culture, even within the church, the idea that there is one "truth" is in question. There is disagreement about "One Way" to God- One must land on this issue- yes or no? At the end of the day, do we have confidence that the Bible is Truth? That Christ is the Way? Or, are there several paths?
  • I think many people fear the confrontation of trying to explain the tough questions- "So all Muslim's are going to hell?"..."So I can be a good person but still go to hell?" "Homosexuality is sin?"... For most's easier to "punt" these questions, avoid them, not try to understand the greater questions... many then resort to what feels good... "There are many paths to heaven, there is no hell, you can believe what feels good, good people go to good places when they die..."
  • I believe the most critical decision we all have is to "get God"... research, read, press-in, test, ask questions to the right people, don't give flippant answers based in nothing... I believe Truth will be found... Test "Seek and you will find"....

Session 5: Craig Groeschel: How Leaders Can Get IT and Keep IT

How Leaders Can Get IT and Keep IT

Craig Groeschel: Life Church TV

When you walk into certain churches, some seem to just have a different feeling... they have "IT".... life... growth... something special...anticipation...expectation... God was present... power, motion

  • Same elements at each location they have (13), however, the output was very different... How could there be different results with so many of the same factors/systems/processes?

  • What is IT? Answer: "Don't know"

  • God makes IT happen... it's from Him, by Him, and for His glory.... we can't make IT, or manufacture IT....
  • It's rare for one person to bring IT.... yet one wrong person can kill IT
  • IT attracts critics.... "You could say IT happens"... if you have IT, it doesn't mean you're going to keep IT, if you don't have IT now, you could get IT later
  • Acts 2:42-47.... People were saved "daily"... do we want IT?

  • 4 Qualities present when IT is present:

  • 1- Laser focused- Better ministry is better, not more ministry- What can we be the very best at? In order to reach people that no one is reaching, you'll have to do things no one is doing.... Less is more...

  • 2- They see opportunities rather than obstacles- You have everything you need to do what God has called you to do- We waste too much time whining about what we don't have... Do what you can with what you have.

  • 3- They are willing to fail. Those without IT tend to play it safe... Failure is a NECESSITY! Peter experienced Jesus in a new way in his failure... Need to shake off failure... shake off what people are saying about you... blogging about you...
  • 4- Led by people who have IT. You need to have IT for your ministry to get IT. Ministry can kill IT... when we focus on building our ministry rather than His Kingdom- we can start losing IT. Leaders that have IT seem to draw people because they want to be part of IT.

  • "I became a full-time pastor and a part-time follwer of Christ"- CG

  • If you've lost IT- getting back to center/core is part of the process to get back-


  • If I truly believe what I believe... am I giving my life to it? Am I giving my life to what I can do best

  • What am I doing that I need to stop doing?
  • What is God trying to show me through my greatest limitation?

  • What has God called me to do that I'm afraid to do?
  • If I don't have IT, what do I need to do get IT?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Session 4b New Cultural Realities: Efrem Smith

Session 4B: Efrem Smith: New Cultural Realities

  • It seems like the more diverse we get... the more divided we get in race, religion, and culture...
  • 1:19 childred in US born as a "mixed" race- Red and Yellow, Black and White will no longer be a relevant song..... :)
  • To lead in this multi-cultural world, we need to be beloved... one that is able allow God to love others through us...
  • Until Jesus comes with ultimate Justice...for's just-us...
  • If you can't love across race or class- You're going to have a hard time leading in this new era..
  • "I think I heard God say"- (God to Efrem) what do you think about this? A multi-culural church...this is what the Church should look like...
  • If the church is to be where the "pain" is... we would see more churches planted in urban, poor areas where there is a high level of brokenness- Down and Out..
  • When High Pressure of what God wants to do in the world hits the Low Pressure of what "we" want to do- storms erupt...
  • Create environments where multi-cultures can collide, interact, and create community...
  • Efrem brought it.


  • The church should lead the multi-cultural revolution of change and the battle of racism...

Session 4: Leading in New Cultural Realities- John Burke

Session 4a: Leading in New Cultural Realities- John Burke from Gateway Community Church Book: No Perfect People Allowed

He's from Austin, TX... thus the cowboy hat.

  • Making and maintaining good soil is everything in planting... what is healthy, rich soil for people? I Cor 3: 6-9 God causes the growth... we're responsible for the soil/environment...
  • Church can be many sexually active, drunk Athiests are going to your church?
  • Do we allow for question and struggle in our church, relationships, and conversations?
  • What do we need to be doing to help our leaders engage with messy people? (Some of us are pretty messy as well)
  • Messy leadership: Helping and leading messy, broken people...
  • Are we leading people to first see others through the eyes of grace and acceptance?
  • Too many times the Church makes it difficult for the emerging cultures to experience Grace? What barriers do we need to remove?
  • "I just couldn't go to a church that hated a group of people (homosexuals)"- Emerging Seeker
  • "What do you think about Muhammed?"- Cultural barrier to Grace for a Muslim
  • Our job is not to fix, grow, or change people- only to work on the soil/environments we create...


  • Creative methodology in church can be part of the good soil needed for people to experience growth in Christ...
  • We need to know our faith to be able to answer the "Barriers to Grace" that many people in our emerging culture are asking...
  • I have a few friends that are struggling with faith, grew up in the faith... good soil... it makes we wonder what causes this? Do some people need to experience bad soil to appreciate good soil?

Session 3b: Stand Up and Lead: Wendy Kopp

Session 3b: Wendy Kopp

Teach for America

  • Where you're born really does have an impact on your educational level

  • 13 mil kids live below the poverty line, by 4th grade- they're already 3 grades behind those in better communities- over half won't graduate high school, when they do, it's at an 8th grade level

  • 5-10% of college seniors aspiring to be teachers are agreeing to teach in a low-income school for two years through her organization, 25,000 students.... She shamelessly gives the "big ask" at college campuses to give them the "opportunity" to help lower income kids

  • Passion for what we do will draw others to the cause.... am I passionate about what I do and what I lead- is it contagious? Wendy is clearly drawing people with her passion...

  • Had to create a "movement" on campuses, not just a thing to sign-up for....

  • Lack of management can be the pitfall to your vision or calling- Crazy ideas ultimately will need some structure and organization to reach its potential.

  • She chose leaders over teachers to teach in the low-income schools...

  • When times get tough- look back at the core of your mission and get back to the basics

  • When there is a Big Dog problem that's "solvable"- it's our moral imperative to work to make that happen- in this case, our public education.... we can do this...


  • Wendy's sense of the front lines- her knowledge she has of her cause- exudes confidence and makes me want to go campaign for funds with what she does... Am I doing the hard work to truly understand the problems at hand, the sense of mission, and acquiring the information needed to be a trustworthy leader and someone worth following?

  • There are a lot of "spinsters" out there that are are talk, all look, but many people can see right through it...

  • Connecting the dots from some of the other items discussed at the conference...again... am I involved in a cause that's BIG, from the heart of God, and am I exercising my gifts and talents in it?

Session 3: Finding Your True North- Bill George

Session 3: Finding Your True North- Bill George
  • The Spirituality of Authentic Leaders

  • Only 10-20% trust our political and business leaders, 48% of pastors/clergy
  • Our talents and what we're capable of is our greatest fear- we tend to shrink back
  • We have a pattern of choosing leaders that have charisma and style, not integrity- it's no wonder we're disappointed in our leaders...
  • Leadership is not money, fame, power- it's responsibility (Peter Drucker)
  • We have knowledge workers- people smarter than the leaders of the company- give them the opportunity to lead-
  • Help people find meaning and significance in their work- Be creative about how to remind our team of this- (Customer testimonials, how are we adding value?, making people feel value? etc... what does that look like in your organization?)
  • Align people around mission/values of the organization- the hardest to do in a organization.
  • Empower- Leaders empower people, helping others step up to their role and mission
  • Serve- Leaders serve.
  • Collaboration: 21st century leaders will be able to bring together organizations to solve some of the world's toughest problems...
  • Our life stories can shape us to be empowered to carry the mission/purpose in our lives- don't let it get wasted...
  • The goals we have can be misguided and actually change us into a person we don't want to be and off-mission of who God intends us to be-
  • "Follow your Compass not your Clock"- We can try to push our time lines and can become frustrated-
  • Self awareness: Get feedback from people close to you, sometimes will be hard but valuable...
  • Get in the front lines- do something, get your hands on the task/organization at hand...
  • Values: to have them- he's flying through this talk...
  • Follow our motivated capabilities (stengths)-
  • Build a good team around me- starts with one person you can be totally open/honest with- people we can do life with and be intimate
  • Lead an integrated life- You'll never be balanced but you can be the same person in all environments you're in- don't put on a mask- be authentic-
  • When you're 90- will you be able to answer the question, "What did I do to make a difference in this world?"
  • Most leaders that fail did not fail their people, they failed themselves, lost their "way" and priorities... trying to be different than who they really are...


  • It's easy to get knocked off course by the world's standards of success- keep the course and be consistant with

Session 2: Just Courage:Charging the Darkness Gary Haugen

The Leadership Summit: Session 2: Gary Haugen

International Justice Mission

  • At the end of the day, we want our leadership to matter
  • Leadership that matters to God are in the issues that matter to God- so what is God truly passionate about?
  • One of the hardest things for people to believe is that God is good- there's so much pain in the world, in their lives.... Is God good?
  • God's plan is "us"- there is no other plan...
  • Injustice- Ecc 4: "Behold I saw the tears of the oppressed..." This is sin to God- We have a call to stand up to oppressors....
  • 60-85% of people in developing world are in prision/jail without a charge or trial...
  • 2 million in forced prostitution in the world (UNICEF) today... how is God good?
  • Leadership doesn't matter as much in things that are cheerful, safe, and easy... it's critical in things that are scary, dangerous, and hard
  • When the task seems hopeless, Lead by re-centering the basis of our Hope.
  • The magnitude of the need can be overwhelming... Jesus asks..."what DO you have?" (Feeding the 5000)... "Will you give it to Me?" He didn't ask what was needed, he asked they "had"...
  • How do we lead when the task seems scary? Jesus did not come to make us safe, He can to make us brave. If I'm playing football and no one is hitting me... I may need to check to make sure I'm in the game...
  • Don't go on the trip of life but miss the adventure... Take the diapers off... Follow God beyond what I can control... that's where we can experience God... Take our strengths God has given us farther than we feel comfortable to climb....
  • Choose not to be safe. Starts with prayer... If we're doing something that doesn't require prayer every 30 minutes.... maybe I need to do something different...
  • Choose deep spiritual health... You don't see people doing hard, scary, uncomfortable things without a deep spiritual health... My spiritual discipline should be driven out of a serious desperation of need rather than a casual "I've done a good devotion" to check it off my list.... Lead people to places that are unsafe to go without God....eliminates the pretenders.... We need to believe we can't do the task without prayer....
  • Choose to pursue excellence... The church and Christians have moved too far into climate controlled neighborhoods (Christian adjusted mediocrity) and began to ignore deep study, practice, stategy, and great execuation.... We need to be effective and skillful... it matters.
  • Choose to seize the joy... The first thing to disappear when we begin to slide is laughter... We need to be able to laugh at our ineptness- How can God depend on all of us, broken people, to be His plan? That's funny. Joy is the antidote to despair...
  • God, please rescue us from all things petty.


  • People are always asking where God is? Where are the miracles? Why doesn't He speak? Are WE truly the plan? Is that why He seems silent but is speaking every moment?
  • I think we lose focus that we're carrying about God's plan and can drift to think it's "us", our actions, our ideas, our plan... we can drift to think we're our own God... Misguided, God-less beliefs abound in our culture that exists in the "I'm a Good Person" theology..
  • If we think life is about's hard to be brave because we hang too tightly to our lives... when we believe it's about eternity, we can risk, we can step out of the boat, we can go into the dark places...
  • I do too many things trying to "accomplish" something on my own or to be the one to "fix" the people around me... I need to hand it off to God, pray more, and find a bigger mountain to climb.

Bill Hybels: The High Drama of Decision Making

Session One: The High Drama of Decision Making

Summit Promise: Leadership taught from a Christian perspective- we're not trying to force is on anyone, but for you to consider.

Best Use of Leadership Practices: To advance the message of Christ and His purposes.

  • Am I involved in life and death decision making- impact leadership? Am I challenging the people I lead to engage in a life-changing challenge?
  • Leaders make the tough calls- not just offer opinions
  • What process do I/we have for making key decisions?
  • Traditionally, Christian leaders ask four questions when making decisions- Does the Bible say anything about this? What would smart advisors advise me to do? P/G/E What have I learned about the pain, gain, and experiences of past decisions? Am I being prompted by the Holy Spirit- something I need to pay attention to?
  • Have a network of smart advisors for key decisions to weigh-in-
  • Journal my leadership track, decisions
  • "The pain and scars I brought to our organization from bad decisions I made in the past give me pause for future decisions..."- BH
  • Leaders take responsibility for bad decisions, pass credit to others for good decisions.
  • Create/document bite-size nuggets/axioms to test in my culture, when it's effective, roll-it out as part of the "mantra" in the organization- Example: "Are we smoking what we're selling?" Abe Lincoln: "The best way to deal with someone who has wronged me is to turn them into a friend", Colin Powell "Create a clash of ideas and you'll make better informed decisions" Hybels: "Vision Leaks"
  • Get the right leaders around the table when critical decisions need to be made- Be prayerful.
  • Get the facts in making decisions. Facts are your friends.
  • When something feels "funky", engage- unattended problems may be there...
  • Leaders need to call "fouls" in a meeting or on themselves when things are not communicated properly or respectfully. Acknowledge mistakes, give people the opportunity to rephrase their question or point.
  • I Timothy 6... Life that is truly life... purpose, significance, a full-tank... Won't be true until I'm fully engaged in God's work and purpose in my life-

Mistakes I see in decisions made in my life or around me:

  • Making hasty decisions- Some people mistake leadership as being willing to make a quick call, they feel strong and decisive- They don't take a reasonable amount of time to get the "rest of the information".
  • Delegating decisions to the wrong people- It's a fine line to allow someone to fail vs. simply handing off a decision that should have been made by me- We should not be surprised when the results of these decisions are a train-wreck.
  • Decisions made in silos- Key decisions are made without any means to communicate it to the rest of the organization, or without "buy-in" to the core team... Key decisions should include a process to roll-out to the core team and the entire organization as needed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Real Marriage"

If it weren't for our faith, Kem and I both agree we probably would have been divorced several years ago. We are both so stinkin' independent and driven... if we're not careful, we can drift into two different tracks in a matter of weeks.

We were out with some great friends (including this guy) last night and had some "real" conversation about our marriages.

Here are some of the lessons I've learned from our 13+ years:
  • Kem is for me. She wants me to have success in my career and ministry, be a great father, and to do life with her. In the early years in our marriage, I didn't get this... especially when we would fight. Be "for" your spouse.
  • Marriage is hard work. Really hard. It would be so much easier to be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and accomplish whatever I want to go after. However, like most things.... easier is not better.
  • I didn't realize how low a low could be in a marriage. When we're in a bad place, life stinks. If we were to try to navigate out of all these times on our own, we probably would not have made it. Let friends in your life and be real with them. Get counseling. Press-in, be truthful and real. Don't go at it alone.
  • There are several things that are important to Kem that I don't get... I've found that "logically" explaining to her why those things shouldn't be important is bad. Sometimes really bad. Find out what she cares about and do that. :)
  • People are watching. Our kids are watching. The accountability that comes with leadership makes it all the more important that we work through our challenges. It makes me wonder, how many couples have pulled the plug because they simply thought it really didn't matter to anyone outside themselves?
  • I love how we talk about ministry, business, strategy, innovation, communications, and what we're learning together. For me, it's one of the top 5 glues in our marriage. We share and do life together overlapping and intertwining passion and purpose in what we do day to day, week to week. It's one thing to be in a bowling league's entirely different when you're on mission together.
  • I thought Kem was marrying me for my body. She wasn't.
  • I get great fulfillment working to help Kem in her strengths and watching her grow and thrive. Her mission has become part of mine. Are you all about your talents or are you encouraging and supporting your spouse in what they were created to do?

Kem's feisty, smart, fun, and a babe. I can't wait to see how our relationship continues to grow in good times and bad. She makes me a better man.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This Week's Cool Jobs

Ok... I stole this title from my friend, but we really do have some cool jobs as we continue to grow:

Here are the next three on deck:

  • IT Division Manager/Coordinator

- Oversee a team of 12-15 IT guru's, coordinate schedules, project management, proposals, help desk, and preventative maintenance planning... Raise our bar for creating customer fans.

  • ERP Consultant

- Work with Microsoft Dynamics product lines (Great Plains, CRM) to implement, train, and lead projects. Accounting background, experience in software integrations, and client contact are all pluses....

  • Accountant

- What accountants do.

Know of any good candidates out there?

Current employee count: 54

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dealing with Technology Consultants

Here's what a few of our challenges can be with our clients:
  • No point person or driver.
  • Timelines are set for the project(s) but the client is too busy in their day to day operations.
  • There are users excited about the project but the owner/management is disengaged- key decisions stall out and project could be in peril.
  • Hardware and software can be buggy. Some clients think it's just plug it, install it, use it.
  • To save money, some want us to "train the trainer"- the only problem is, no one has told the trainer that or the trainer is not really a trainer.
  • Too many people at an organization have the ability to order our services with no internal controls. 60 days later the CFO is opening up a can...

The flip side when dealing with a tech firm:

  • Appoint or create a project leader/team and give them your full support (leaders)
  • Clear hurdles where you can so they have the time necessary to properly implement
  • Stay engaged with your point person- hold them to their timeline internally
  • Hire a reputable firm and check references if you don't have tech's in house to be on team
  • Be committed to training. Don't accept getting 90% there but not be fully trained. Be upfront and talk about this with your consultant.
  • Create internal processes for approving consultant time. Don't allow people to grab the IT tech to unclog the printer. Have a specified hit list and stick to the critical items first.
  • Explore fixed bids with good, clear scopes of work. While the perception is that you may get a "padded" bid, the reality is many times a good firm is eating overages. It also gives you some opportunity to budget rather than deal with an open checkbook.
  • Ask for quotes prior to work being done.
  • On development projects, have a fixed monthly amount for regular progress to be made on your project/systems. Work from critical items then down the punch list.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Leading Laggards

In an organization with 100 people:
  • 20 people are doers.
  • With a leader.
  • 80 are hanging around watching, experimenting, consuming, or complaining.
  • When the 20 expand to 40, chances are there's 200 now in the organization (or will be).
  • The 20 tend to get frustrated with the 80 for not doing anything and at times will tell them. (They should avoid that.)
  • The 80 will ride the coattails of the 20 and feel like they did it and even take credit for it.
  • This sometimes frustrates the 20. They should not be frustrated. They should just do.
  • Great leaders pour vision into the 20 while casting the net out to the 100.
  • Frustrated leaders spend a lot of time trying to get the 80 be part of the 20.
  • Of the 80, some will become doers as the organization grows.
  • The doers that simply do will some day realize there are people following them.
  • Some of the 80 will become part of the 20 with a simple personal invite.
  • A leader will be turned down 4 times for every yes. This does not bother great leaders. It frustrates others.
  • Frustrated leaders have the opportunity to be great leaders.

I want to be a great leader.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"50 to 100"

Since the inception of the technology firm I'm part of, we've experienced an amazing 35% growth year over year. As the company continues to expand, maintaining that type of growth clip is going to be an increasing challenge with several dynamics at play. While the future is always an unknown, I hope to be able to capture the progress of our growth at our current number of 50 employees (actually 54 as we just brought on four more developers over the past few weeks) to 100 employees. It would be great to hear your stories and comments of similar challenges you face in your companies and organizations as we press in together....

Some key challenges as I see them today:
  • As the project manager (and also involved in some operations), my drive has been to raise the bar in our customer experience and processes within our projects and company. Our ability to continue to improve in this area while growing with new people will be an interesting dynamic.
  • Currently we have three Sr. Managers each overseeing one of our 3 groups (ERP, Developement, and IT). They are extremely gifted technology gurus who will have to learn to grow into more management function or reshape the structure of their teams. (Either shift from be a do-er to a leader or find some alternatives). This goes for me too, I need to be preparing for what 100 team members looks like...
  • Our internal processes for leveraging information (task coordination, emails, budgets, scope, proposals, etc...) need to make critical improvements. Implementing and syncing the functionality of SharePoint, MS CRM 4.0, and Outlook with other tools will be essential. Gaps in communication will only grow without continual tightening of our systems...
  • Outside leaders are going to have to be able to succeed and assimilate into our group. We'll be able to pull some up from within our team, however, most are talented "do-ers" that should stay exactly where they're at...already adding huge value...
  • Management is going to have to look at the number of direct reports they currently have- typically 6-8 is the max- currently we're exceeding this in all three groups...
  • Without acquisition, finding top calibur talent to come to South Bend/Elkhart, Indiana will continue to be a hurdle. We may need to stretch our boundaries and be creative with work locations, mobility, and communications to bring on new team members...
  • We will need to have a plan to help each individual grow in their expertise', feel connected to the team, know how what they do makes a difference, and that they matter and are cared for...
  • Our service needs to be at a level that's remarkable... something worth talking about as Seth Godin would say....

I love this team. I look forward to this run. While I'll be limited in some of what I can share, I hope to be able to report the core of the experience along the way... stay tuned....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Leave the Penny On the Ground"

Today I picked up a penny that was on the ground. It made me wonder, is it really even worth it? It takes a moment to notice the penny...then, I have to process the thought of whether I should pick up the coin... I wonder, "do I look like a dork picking up a penny? " Finally, I think, who's filming me picking this thing up later to be shown on You Tube as the dude who will actually pick up a penny?... It's a Ben Stiller moment to slyly act like you're tying your shoe when you're actually picking the penny off the ground. If it takes me 6 seconds to finally pick the penny up, I'm paying myself a whopping $6 per hour to pick up the Lincoln-laden coin...

At $6 an hour....maybe it's simply best to leave the penny on the ground...

What's your time worth? What penny-picking up activities are in your workday or your ministry?
  • Over a 4-day period I averaged 29 emails "sent"... at 5 minutes an email, it's 2 hours and 25 minutes out of an 8 hour workday....
  • If I'm not saving, creating, or preserving revenue in our business, am I picking up pennies?

  • If I'm not doing only what I can do, I'm probably collecting pennies.

  • When's the last time you measured some of your regular activities to understand the cost is it to your organization or team?

  • What job, hobby, or habit are you stuck in that is paying you pennies?

What you do needs to makes cents. The next time I see a penny on the ground, I hope I can delegate it to one of my kids or I have the focus to leave it on the ground.

Monday, June 23, 2008

There's More to this "One Prayer" Thing

I am loving this four week push of One Prayer uniting with 1544 other churches and 864,524 total attendance. This past week we were challenged to learn "wisdom from the ages" with Wayne Cordeiro (pay no attention to the palm trees, crashing waves, and scenic volcanoes in the background- thanks Wayne for helping me love Indiana...)

The leverage of technology continues to amaze me to the possibilities....
  • A great leader could launch a church supplemented or fully driven by messages from the greatest, God-fearing communicators all over the world... Leverage of Teaching
  • As more synergy is generated within the church, portals or venues will continue to grow to have a warehouse of phenominal teaching resourcing ministry- Who's leading this charge? How will this come together? Leverage of Resources
  • Multi-site or internet churches will continue to boom- No longer will a pastor need to be a jack-of-all trades- More will be able to focus on their strengths of shepherding, managing, or worship- Leaders with management and a strong vision for their community will be a growing asset and need in fueling growth-
  • A decentralized, unified brand of church will launch, "One Church"
  • Helping connect the message with arts, next steps, and a strong vision for changing our local communities will be the challenge in threading these video messages to local relevance-
  • While many will criticize this methodology... is not God speaking through these great leaders in our generation? Are they not seeking His will and guidance in how they prepare for these messages? I think God happens to know where and how these messages will be used- He's big enough to have that covered.
  • Many will say that this could be the glorification of man, culture, or other things "of this world". Others will say this may add to the entertainment, consumerism of the church- that this lacks depth or authenticity. I couldn't disagree more.

Thanks Craig for saying yes to God with this incredible vision of One Prayer....

Monday, June 9, 2008

Decentralizing Church

Today's technology-driven, viral world has made it easier and easier for businesses, people, and ideologies to become more decentralized in our generation.

Decentralized: No leader. Chaotic. No order. Creative. Not about profit. Quick. Easily mutates. Mobile. Think Napster, al Qaeda, AA...

Individuals are now able to work from their phones, play games on the road, have nearly constant internet access, and can stay in contact minute by minute with friends all over the globe. Life is mobile. As backwards as it seems, relationships can actually grow with technology with no face to face contact. The pendulum is swinging towards decentralization. What about the church?
  • As people become more decentralized, they will trend toward decentralized options over centralized options. (Church online or podcasts vs. the 10:00 service on Sunday morning)
  • We have options to experience some of the greatest speakers in the world every week at any time and any place. (There will need to be some strong reasons other than the pastor to keep me at your church)
  • This trend will distract many people to fall away from their faith, lose focus, and without the weekly structure in their life, ultimately will be distracted in life and simply be growing old. This is true.
  • This trend will cause ongoing growth throughout the week with multiple options for study, teaching, and connecting with mission all over the world. Faith in action will explode and more people will come to know Christ. This also is true.
  • Churches that are losing people will either deny this trend, blame culture, blame their local economy or census report, blame other churches or will press into understanding our changing world to find ways to re-connect with the people in their community.
  • God can handle centralized or decentralized. He is God. He's good. This has not surprised Him. He can handle our various methodologies, styles, trends and personalities.
  • No change in today's church model will lead to continued decline in church attendance in the upcoming decade. (Just because people aren't within the four walls doesn't mean that God isn't at work- He's always way ahead of any curve, on the curve, and helping those behind the curve)

What does that look like for your church and community? What questions are you asking? This is one takaway from The Starfish and the Spider.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Four Pillars of Project Management

My core role in my day to day job is project management- over the years from the construction industry and now in technology, I filter and measure our performance based on four pillars/criteria:


  • Is the budget on track?
  • Are we experiencing any changes in the scope of work that need to be added to the budget?
  • Is the client comfortable with our progress and billing?


  • Are we going to be on time with our original targets?
  • What critical items could affect the timeline, are these clearly established with the team?
  • Is the client comfortable with our current timeline and plan?

Quality/Scope of Work:

  • Are we addressing our clients "pain points" with quality direction and solutions?
  • Have we eliminated any "grey area" out of the project scope- are there any items that need to be addressed?
  • Have we identified any items that are potential problems? Is there anything that needs to be presented to the client for positive alternatives?

Create a Fan/Communication (most critical):

  • Is this client/will this client be a fan of ours when this project is complete?
  • Will they talk about us, recommend us to others?
  • Are we "wowing" them? Are we communicating the "wins" and the elimination of the "pain points" throughout the project?
  • Are we communicating well throughout the project and building into our long-term relationship?

There are several other bullets that could be added under each of these four items- these are simply a start. Taking the time to run these through my head with any given project and with our team has served me well over the years.... what about you?

Friday, May 16, 2008

"The Jesus Mobile"

As I'm "in between" vehicles right now, we've been fortunate to be able to have 3 vehicles with 4 drivers in one neighborhood to get by thanks to my in-laws....

Today I'm sporting a Honda Civic from my parents appropriately called "The Jesus Mobile"- (See Pic). This had become a trademark with my parents- growing up we had a Ford escort called "T.J.M" as it was adorned with a PTL bumper sticker and others... I feel like I'm 16 again...

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law's Tracker had a bright orange "Exotic Feline Rescue Center" bumper sticker on it.... I wondered what thoughts go through one's mind watching a dude getting out of a vehicle like that... As a bonus, that also comes with a nice, leopard print shoulder strap- I just hope people got past the word "Exotic"....

All that being said... I'm thankful for the faith I was brought up in, the family (on both sides) I get to do life with, and my trip down memory lane in "The Jesus Mobile" today...

Hopefully my new ride will be provided for in the next few weeks- until then, I'm off to the revival!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Finish + 1"

This weekend at Granger we showed a video where two of us were transplanted into the video game Halo... you should be able to watch it here on May 5th and beyond...

Ben (the cool young dude in the pics played my son) and I had had about seven hours of video shoot time most of which was done in the green room- our video guys are amazing.

My great friend Jeff Petersen runs point for the GCC video/arts team and I've been honored to be able to work with him on several projects over the years. He spent over three weeks tallying up over 150 hours of time in writing, shooting, editing and anything else that has to do with getting this project done all for a five minute video. Jeff's a Finisher + 1.

Leader's like Jeff know:
  • Great ideas are overrated... getting something done is much more difficult

  • A lot of projects, businesses, and ministries can function can be average and even good taking a vision to 80-90% of completion....

  • But, the reality in most endeavors, 80-90% of something is really nothing so we risk having it be a complete waste of time..
  • However, greatness comes when someone or some team takes the vision to the finish line... The final edits are made with minor improvements to the small details in a video, a good message is rehearsed a few more times to be sharp, or some final adjustments are made to a web-site to make the user experience a little easier...

The final thought is about the +1. Jeff and I have talked about how one extra hour in any drama, video edit, or any endeavor can add just that little extra "something" to the art.

I know when I cut corners. I know when I think to myself, "if I just had more time, that could have been so much better"... I know when I'm spread thin and kicking out a bunch of mediocrity...

What will it take to focus on finishing + 1? What project or vision are you working on that is getting diluted or is mired in the "it's good enough" stage?

Jeff's a great finisher. There aren't too many people out there like him. It was inspiring to see him work... (for the record, I didn't intentionally shoot a pic of him bending over...... dude....)