Innovation

Let’s face it – the past few years have been pretty tough on the economy. If you haven’t lost your job during this economic downturn you know someone who has. For many of those people it has been very difficult to find work and it doesn’t look like the job market is going to recover anytime soon. How can you position yourself to either keep the job you have or find a better job? Innovation is Everybody’s Business by Robert Tucker offers some sound advice on developing an Innovator’s Mindset that can help make you “indispensable in today’s hyper-competitive world.”

Tucker introduces seven Innovation Skills:

1) Embrace the Opportunity Mindset. Learn to watch for innovation opportunities that can improve your area of work or ministry. “Is there a better way to do this?” Listen to what other people are saying and look for opportunities to act.

2) Become an Assumption Assaulter. Confront those assumptions that block innovation. They may be personal assumptions (“I’m just not creative enough”); organizational assumptions (“They don’t value innovation where I work”); or industry assumptions (“That doesn’t work in churches”).

3) Cultivate a Passion for the End Customer. What are people “buying” from you? What is your “customer’s” experience like when they “buy” your product? “Step outside the bubble of your culture, interact with enough people, and listen to what they say.” (p. 101)

4) Think Ahead of the Curve. Notice trends, anticipate threats, and discover hidden opportunities.

5) Become an Idea Factory. Become intentional about giving yourself the opportunity to create ideas.

6) Become a Standout Collaborator. It’s all about ‘team’.

7). Build the Buy-In for New Ideas. Overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of your idea becoming a reality.

I found Innovation to be an interesting read filled with possible solutions for those, like me, who work in a church or other non-profit. Ultimately, we all work with people – usually in teams – and we in the church are especially positioned to introduce change (new ideas) into people’s lives.  Whether it’s a new way to follow-up with first-time visitors, add a new worship service, or starting a new ministry we are constantly seeking to discover and implement new “ideas.” Mastering and implementing these simple skills could greatly improve the level of innovation in your life and in your organization. They could also make you “invaluable in today’s hypercompetive world.”

If you are a second chair leader, Innovation is a great place to start. By developing these various skills you can be that person on your staff that not only gets things done, but also is that person who introduces new ideas that benefit the entire team and organization. As I read this book several items came to mind from my own experience over the past few years.  We have revamped our website twice in the past three years to improve this ‘front door’ entrance to our church. (OurSaviorsBaptist.org)  We spent a year exploring and making recommendations to add an online giving option to our website. This option is being used by more and more people every month (greater use means additional income since online giving is more consistent than the ‘pass the plate’ method). After two years of dead ends we just converted our ‘heritage analog’ (old and outdated) phone system to a VOIP system with all new handsets trading out our DSL connection for a cable connection – something that we were told was ‘impossible’ in our location – and we did it for less money than the cost of our old system! Be on the lookout for those ideas that you can implement that will bring added value to your team and organization – especially those that contribute to your organization’s culture and will pay dividends for years to come.

My thanks to Rick Evans, a friend and member of my first NextGeneration Mentoring group, who gave me a copy of Innovations.

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