Brainstorming Change Mission

Toast on Beans

I recently came across which has some wonderful ideas about how to make online meetings better with good questions, and creating involvement and engagement.

There are some freely downloadable resources featuring ice-breaker type questions – along with the more deep and meaningful…

I had posted an example on the ITsForMinistry FaceBook page:

It generated a bit of discussion – with ideas about how to do ’beans on toast’ differently – with cheese – not on top but under the beans… another suggested adding chorizo to mac and cheese…

Which got me wondering about what ingredients we might try adding to our otherwise tried and tested mission practices!

It’s good to bounce around the trivial – sometimes it prompts deeper thinking…

I’m off to have some toast on beans now…!

Brainstorming Change Prioritising Productivity Resources Saw Sharpening

I have a dream…

Martin Luther King Jr Day is marked on the Third Monday January – close to his birthdate 15 Jan 1929

He famously said, “I have a dream…”

Not, “I have a plan… an idea… a project…

With the emotion of a dream he led others to action, changed beliefs, ideas, and plans… but it all began with a dream…

What are your dreams… your hopes… for the World, the Church, your nation, your community, your family, your self…

Brainstorming Leadership Meetings Productivity

Enabling the Impossible

It’s only impossible until it’s done”, words attributed to many including Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.

On a Thursday morning in January 2022, 24 ministers, elders and others from within the ITsForMinistry Facebook group meet on Zoom for a Conversation triggered by some of Seth Godin’s thinking around Leadership always being qualified by ‘this might not work’.The Seth Godin’s Video which all had watched prior to the conversation was this one:

The recording of the conversation is available to those within the FB Group. If you are not already a member there you can request to join. (There are a few simple questions including commitment to the group rules which must be completed)

The Practice

Following the conversation a number of the group have committed to reading Seth Godin’s The Practice and to meet regularly to discuss its content and to encourage one another in our practice in the context of ministry.
Details are in the FB group if you are interested in joining in.

Brainstorming Change Leadership

Take time to reflect.

Socrates is attributed with saying “The unexamined life is not worth living”

And more recently Charles Handy quotes: “It’s like the Irishman Frances Crick once said: ‘How do I know what I think until I hear what I say?’”

Do you take time to listen to yourself..? To reflect and ponder what you really believe and think about life, the universe, faith, God, yourself and everything…

Brainstorming Change Leadership Prioritising Productivity

Make time for the Important

Stephen Covey spoke of ‘First things First’, important things first. He borrowed Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Matrix Michael Heppell and others speak of allocating time to the categories: ‘Me’, ‘Key’, ‘stuff’ – where ‘Key’ projects are the mission critical important ones… yet how often all the urgent stuff pushes out the important. ‘Me’ times – are, well it says it on the tin doesn’t it – times for YOU – and that’s important too.

Brainstorming Change Leadership Productivity

Change 4,5,6

You can only change 3 things: structures, policies and mindsets… but you have to change them all… and mindset will always be the hardest!

To effect those changes, you need to do three things… I call them steps 4, 5, 6 in honour and recognition of the change that has already happened! Change is all around and change is hard… particularly within the Church context, where despite a core belief that our God is a god of transformation, who journeys with us into unknown places, and who makes all things new, we have huge investment in tradition, heritage and ‘the way it’s aye been.’

Steps 1,2 and 3 – they’ve happened already – think of the changes that you have seen already in your experience of Church – its structures, practices and attitudes…

4: Create shared Vision, ideas purpose, image of the future, aim…

5: Engagement with People and non-human resources (funding, materials)

6: Do It! Action, Delivery…

Steve Radcliffe’s book Future Engage Deliver is an excellent and very readable book on the leadership of change based on the 3 phases he calls Future, Engage and Deliver. John Kotter’s classic change process has eight steps, variations on the theme all boil down to three areas with different levels of detail within. Every change model I have encountered is about envisioning a better future, collaborating with people to develop, understand, share the vision, and acting towards implementing it and embedding it into a new culture – a new ‘that’s how we do it here’. Kotter’s book ‘That’s not how we do it here’ in story form about how a family of meerkats adapt, is a good read!

The triangle diagram diagram above I put together early 2000s, while engaged in the Church of Scotland’s Area Team Ministry project – one of many pilots to promote collaborative ministry. The Church Without Walls report of 2001 had spoken of building the Church around the gifts of the people – and I remember thinking – but what if there is a mismatch between the gifts of the people and the envisioned future?

Which comes first the Vision, or the Gifts of the people, or the Actions? And the more I pondered… I realised that we need all three to work together and to be informed and supported by each other…

If we start with VISION we need to have the PEOPLE to bring it to life, and we need to know that ACTION is achievable. (See also SMARTER goals)

If we start with PEOPLE (gifts, talents and resources) then we must ensure that the people are on board with the shared VISION, and that the people are trained, motivated and supported towards ACTION.

If we start with ACTION then it has to be clear that it’s the right action, in line with agreed and shared VISION, and that the most suitable PEOPLE are taking forward the Action. I’m not a big fan of ‘Just Do It’ – it maybe works for Nike… but Action without Vision can be a fruitless expenditure of energy.

We need VISION, PEOPLE and ACTION – we need them all and we need to keep asking the questions, reviewing and reflecting as we journey into an even better future.

Brainstorming Change General Meetings MindMapping

Kipling Questions

I keep six honest serving men,
they taught me all I knew.
Their names are What and Why and When
and How and Where and Who

from The Elephant’s Child, Rudyard Kipling

Six Questions to ask about anything and everything?

Kipling Questions: What, Where, When, Why, Who, How?

Use them to brainstorm on your own or with a group

  • What? is it, could happen, would happen if…
  • Why? Why, Why is, does it have to be…
  • When? is the right time, do we start…
  • How? can we do it, will it be achieved…
  • Where? should this happen, is best, are the target audience…
  • Who? is involved, are we involving, excluding…

Further reading:

Brainstorming Change Leadership

Gnim rots niarb

It’s a silent G – pronounced ‘nim rots ny-arb’ No it’s not Gaelic! It’s Brainstorming reversed!

Instead of brainstorming around what you want to achieve… consider what you would do to ensure failure!

It really works well – people will talk much more freely because it’s fun and light hearted… it’s actually really creative and generative.

eg: how to ensure poor engagement with Christmas services.

Don’t advertise, tell everyone the church is closed, hide the minister’s iPad, sing unfamiliar carols, no decorations in Church… you get the idea

And then when you flip the ‘how not to’ ideas you will have loads of really helpful insights…

Next Brainstorm – whether in a group or on your own – do it in reverse…. Gnim rots niarb!

Bonus tip: it’s always good to have brainstormers do some storming on their own first so they ‘hear their own ideas’ before being drowned out by louder voices!

Brainstorming Change General Leadership Productivity Saw Sharpening

6 important things to do tomorrow

What are the six most important things you are going to do tomorrow?

The Ivy Lee Method

100 years ago Ivy Lee was a productivity consultant- before that was really a thing! He shared some advice which many still use today. You too can apply the Ivy Lee method… Before you finish work or go to bed today, write down the 6 most important things that you will do tomorrow.

Tomorrow, do them! Don’t let anything else distract until you have ticked off those 6 things.

If at the end of the day there are tasks remaining undone – great you have the start of tomorrow’s list!

Further Readings:

Brainstorming Change General Leadership MindMapping

101 Things to Do..?

Too many things to do?

There are three kinds of people:

  1. Those who remember everything that needs to be done – and keep all the thoughts on their head.
  2. Those who rely on other people to remind them when they overlook something important
  3. Those who have a trusted system (outwith their head) and capture and sort their to-dos, and do and review their tasks!

Further reading: