Thursday, July 28, 2011

Off-Site Planning Retreat

Today our staff is participating in an off-site, one-day planning retreat. We are ramping up for the fall and specifically preparing for the implementation of a completely new discipleship and family life ministry system.

It's really exciting to think of all the new changes that we are working on to develop a stronger and healthier church. What an opportunity for growth and more changed lives.

Here are a few reasons why we do off-site planning sessions:

1) Unleash - Often times just a change of scenery helps unleash the creative process. Once you are out of the office and out of the routine you can get in a fresh perspective on challenges and obstacles within the organization.

2) Unplug - We intentionally go to locations where there are limited distractions like this camp that's in a pretty remote place up in the mountains. There are limited phones, wi-fi, email, and a myriad of other hi-tech interruptions that jam up a typical work day.

3) Unwind - Off-sites provide a great opportunity to spend quality time with staff members. We always include some free time where we can just hang out and relax and enjoy one another. This down time does wonders to build team morale and camaraderie.

4) Unpack - An extended meeting time away from the office affords the staff valuable time to really unpack important issues. This additional time spent brainstorming, thinking, discussing and praying produces a solution-oriented plan and God-sized goals.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lesson from Disney #6

Lesson #6 - The Pixar Rule

At Disney, the Pixar Rule is the basic understanding that you cannot offer criticism without offering a suggested solution.

For example, if you work at Disney on the Pixar Team and you view the opening sequence of Cars 2 and you don't like it you wouldn't say: "The opening sequence wasn't as good as the first movie. You better change it."

That's simply offering criticism without focusing on concrete ideas of how to change it for the better.

Instead, you would say, "The opening sequence would be better if you didn't introduce any new characters and had Mater and Lightening zoom onto the screen straight away. The kids will love it. That's what they want to see."

In our church culture, we strive to offer constructive criticism.

Constructive criticism adds value to your feedback and can institute positive change.

Develop a culture that allows for honest criticism but also keeps the focus solution-oriented.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lesson from Disney #5

Lesson #5 - Learn How to Retrain Great Staff Members

+My friend at Disney talked specifically about how to retrain great staff member (emphasis on great). He's got a great team that he manages now and has dealt with plenty of transition in his tenure.

+All great staff members ask these 3 questions:

1. What do I get to do?

2. Who do I get to do it with?

3. Am I a valued contributor?

If the answer is only "yes" to two out of the three, than you will not be able to retain great staff members. In other words, if you get to work on the Cars 2 team and report directly to the director but your job is getting coffee and reviewing scripts for typos you might not want to be on that team because you don't see the value in your contribution.

+I'm learning that great staff members want to work with great people while doing what they are passionate about and add value to others in the process.

+In my experience, building a great staff isn't easy. I've experienced more than my fair share of transition. Sure, I'm not a perfect leader and my organization has plenty of room for growth. But I'm learning that these 3 questions are essential in building a great staff and positive morale.

+I make it a practice to discuss these questions with my staff regularly and if there is an issue I do my best to address it immediately.

+The reality is that if a staff member cannot genuinely answer these 3 questions in a positive and passionate tone than it is best for them and the organization to move on.

+Our organizational culture becomes our currency for retaining great staff.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lesson from Disney #4

Lesson #4 - Don't Even Try to Please Everyone

+Disney understands that they serve a customer that has strong opinions about the products they make

+They use focus-groups to learn, develop and refine different product lines

+However, there are two groups of people they don't even try to please: the hater and the demanding-fan

+A hater is someone who simply criticizes and complains about everything you do. These people hate everything about Disney, including it's core values. They think the world would be a better place without fairy tales and theme parks. Disney simply ignores this type of person because there is no pleasing them.

+A demanding-fan is someone who only likes a very specific type of Disney experience. For example, a demanding fan wants every Disney animated film to have a fairy-tale princess, an evil step-mother, and talking forest creatures. Anything other than that would be classified as "Disney has lost it's way."

+I've learned this lesson the hard-way leading a local church. I've tried to please everyone with how I preached, the style of music we sing, the length of service, the way I dressed in the pulpit, etc. PCC has it's share of haters and demanding fans. It comes with the territory.

+But here's the lesson: you can't please everyone so stop trying.

+It's okay to not please everyone. Instead, focus on pleasing Jesus!

+I'm not totally there yet (because I'm a people pleaser by nature) but when you live your life by being honest and committed to the vision that Jesus puts in your heart (not what a deacon or disgruntled church member wants) it makes ministry a lot more enjoyable and fruitful.

+Don't try to solve the tension that is inherent when you try to please everyone. Simply choose to please Jesus be doing what He's called you to do and then do it to the best of your ability while trusting Him with the results.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lesson from Disney #3

Lesson #3 - Failure Can Be Tolerated, Lack of Judgment Cannot

+There is a huge difference between failure and lack of judgment

+Failure is when I put a plan together, execute it to the best of my ability and then still come up short.

+Failure is actually part of the learning process. If handled correctly, it helps you succeed.

+At Disney, it's ok to fail.

+My friend Brian defines lack of judgment in terms of when you speak negatively about Disney, other staff or departments or even intentionally attempt to sabotage their efforts to succeed.

+Lack of judgment isn't tolerated because the "damage control" simply becomes too high.

+In the local church, I would classify "lack of judgment" as not being "wise." According to Acts 6, one of the essential characteristics for a church-leader was that they be "full of wisdom." Acts 6:3

+At PCC, it's ok to fail.

+In reality, I encourage my team to fail. I say, "if you aren't failing, you aren't taking any risks." It's ok to fail. Just try not to make the same mistake twice. Fail forward.

+In fact, I try to create an environment where it is safe to fail. Instead of flying off the handle at failure we ask questions like: "why did this project/event fail?", "what were the contributing factors?," "where did we go wrong?", "what did we learn?", "what can we do differently next time?"

+Lack of judgment, though, is another issue. Things such as: staff members not valuing volunteers, not having the leadership and emotional intelligence when working with people and delicate situations, losing their temper, speaking negatively against the leadership, unsupportive of the vision, demonstrating a "have to" mentality instead of "I get to" mentality, poor work ethic, etc. These things simply cannot be tolerated. They are a poor representation of Christ and what His Church is all about.

+Brian is right...the damage control for unwise leadership is simply too high of a cost to bear.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Lessons From Disney #2

Lesson #2 - Insane Talent Is Not Enough

+There are a lot of insanely talented people that work at Disney. But when it comes to building a team, ability is not as important as chemistry.

+Brian told me that he watched many incredibly talented people get fired at Disney because they didn't get along with coworkers and they were difficult to work with. These were people who lived by the creed "it's my way or the highway." Well, at Disney, they just show those people to the the door.

+At Disney you have to be willing to compromise, collaborate and cooperate.

+There's nothing worse for an organization than someone who is very good at what they do but they create a toxic work environment by they way they interact with others.

+When building a solid team, don't always look for the prima donna franchise player that wants everything to revolve around them. Find solid, talented people with a teachable-spirit, team-oriented mentality and do-whatever-it-takes philosophy.

+My friend Herbert Cooper said it best, "Talented people win games but teams win championships."

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Lessons from Disney #1

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with my friend Brian who is a VP at Disney. Currently he oversees the mobile gaming division. My kids were very excited to know that their dad met the man who oversaw the development of one of their favorite games, Jelly Car. Very cool dad.

Brian taught me some invaluable lessons he has learned over the many years he's been with Disney, especially those related to organizational culture and team building. So this next set of posts I share what I learned from Brian and Disney. Thanks Brian!

#1 - You can't fake enthusiasm.

+The most successful people within Disney maintain a genuine love for what they do.

+They get to put smiles on peoples faces and create memories for families that last a lifetime.

+Enthusiasm for the Disney brand and being part of the Disney staff is all about attitude. Sure, there are good days and bad days but the best of the best always stay positive no matter what's going on in the organization.

+People that work at Disney call this infectious enthusiasm as being "Pixie Dusted."

+For me, working at PCC is a blessing, not a burden. I can't believe I get to do what I do for a living. I'm literally living my dream. Sure there are tough days and disappointments along the way. But I go to work every day with the mentality that I can't believe I get to do this!

+I've found that negative people suck the life out of a church or staff culture. They bring everyone down. If you don't love ministry, then it's best to find something else to do. Life is too short to not love what you do and who you do it with.

+On the flip side, a genuine, enthusiastic spirit is infectious. It creates joy and excitement and permeates every person you encounter and ever project you work on.

+Maintain an enthusiastic attitude and you will last in the ministry and enjoy your life.

+I'm excited about our church and the team that God is raising up to touch this community. The fact that we get to tell people about Jesus and create experiences that help people get right with God and inherit eternal life is almost too good to be true. On top of that I then to get to watch people grow to spiritual maturity. I can't imagine a better investment of my life.