Posts Tagged ‘systems’



Thoughts from a Church Secret Shopper

I often walk through a church service as a secret shopper. It’s my way to assess how aware and prepared a church is for a newcomer–specially one that might be outside of the faith. As I experience a weekend service for the first time, I try to answer the question that every first-time guest asks himself: “why should I come back here?” The question is not as much about musical style and preaching method as it is about connecting spiritually and emotionally. The Answer to that question begins at the parking lot and ends on the way home. It’s not about any one thing, and, yet, it is about every single thing. I’m not sure most pastors and church staff realize that newcomers want to like the church they chose to visit. They are looking for reasons to say, “I want to be part of this congregation.”  Whether they are…

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How Should We Manage Technology?

How far into the future should your technology plan look? That’s a question I am asked often these days. Technology can be a capital expenditure for businesses and not-for-profits. It seems like yesterday I was sitting in board meetings considering investing in technology, websites, servers, and productivity tools that we expected to be useful for “the next 10 years.” Oh my, how times have changed. Unfortunately today I run into all sorts of limitation issues when clients who bought expensive technology 5 years ago want to continue to use it in today’s context. The proliferation and democratization of technology has taken innovation from the large software and hardware developers such as Microsoft and has moved them down to the level of a college kid who starts a little online tool for his friends based on an open-source platform we now call Facebook. It seems like every day something amazing has…

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Workout Systems to Help Your Lack of Motivation

I’m a naturally disciplined person. I exercise 6 days a week, usually early mornings. It’s not always easy. That’s not true. It’s never easy.  Getting up at 4:30 a.m., hitting the pavement for a run or going to the gym for a hard workout is often the last thing my body wants to do.  So I have come up with a few systems to help push through when motivation alone is not enough, which happens to be pretty much every day. Set up goals. Different seasons in life I have different goals. They provide me with the motivation I need.  I have trained for a 5k, 10k and marathon. I’ve done triathlons. My current goal is hitting single digits body fat. I’m almost there. If you have a goal, you’ll go much farther, faster.  It gives you a reason to say “no” to the warm cookie the flight attendant offers…

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Without Systems Your Vision is Just a Dream

Systems, not vision, determine the sustainability of your dream. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn, but over the years, I have met many a visionary leader whose dreams grew to a fraction of their potential because of the lack of an environment where the vision could thrive. Vision must come first in any organization, otherwise systems tend to get a life of their own and become what we hate the most about government: bureaucracy, a means into itself, a self-preserving, self-entitled nothingness. However, vision without systems is like a train without tracks. In a growing organization, sustainability means understanding strengths, threats, opportunities, trends and how to design organizational culture and procedures to address them. I’ve heard someone put it this way: what determines your product is what happens down the hall and not what’s hanging on the wall. I’m saddened every time I run into a…

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Is Your Church Hard to Get In?

The natural tendency of things is to go from simple to complex. It happens in businesses and it certainly happens in churches. Size, resources, both financial as well a people, dictate a lot of what a church can do in its infancy. But growing organizations, by nature of growth, become increasingly sophisticated and, thus more complex. Unwittingly, churches develop their own language and culture and a set of assumptions about their organization. One of the most dangerous of these assumptions is that the church’s internal culture is a mirror of its community, and, therefore, easy for newcomers to understand. I can think of so many examples, but one that comes to mind is the way churches have creative names for every age-group ministry: Fuse, Stretch, MainStreet, The Loft, to name a few. Familiarity causes staff to drop the most important of denominators, the age descriptor. What started out as Fuse…

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3 Things You Must know in Order for Your Business to Make It

I love the entrepreneurial spirit. People who can see opportunities where most can’t and have the guts to jump out into and make it happen, are some of my favorites. In my experience, most business owners start their companies without all the “facts.” While some might have a well-thought out business plan, most only have an idea, a lot of passion and energy and enough gambling instinct to pull the trigger on and move forward. But while no amount of education or research can prepare you for the real world of business, here’s a few  things you must figure out if you’re going to make it whether you’re starting a free-lance business out of your home, a manufacturing facility, or a marketing agency. Who is my ideal customer? My company became a lot  more profitable once we decided what our ideal customer looked like. We realized that some of our…

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