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The Rules of Innovation

Healthy Leaders

The Rules of Innovation

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander
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One of the best ways to learn as a church leader is to get outside of the “church-world” and learn from other industries (Luke 16:8). That kind of exposure will challenge your thinking in new ways. It exposes you to different problems that you aren’t facing, as well as new solutions that churches aren’t even thinking about.

The other day I had the opportunity to learn from a friend of mine who works in a different industry than the church I serve in. He works for a fast growing, global, world-class company that’s known for innovation.

As I listened to him describe his company’s approach to innovation there were some core concepts that were counterintuitive that really stood out to me.

First … Master the Standard

You don’t have the right to innovate until you’ve mastered the existing standard, because otherwise you degrade the standard. In order to innovate you have to begin with a baseline standard. That starting point allows you to begin to improve things, be creative and innovate. In a church you may have a standard way of doing things like checking in kids, new families, or following up on guests. You may have standard expectations in regard to the quality of the worship band, lighting, sound or even the percentage of attenders in a group or engaged in a volunteer team. Innovation in those instances would mean mastering the standard, whatever that is, and then trying new things to improve upon it.

Hyper-standardization and a free-for-all are both bad for innovation

Both over-standardization and a wild west, no holds barred approach will squelch innovation. Innovation for the sake of innovation is a waste of time. There’s plenty of opportunity to innovate against a problem. The best innovations are always for the sake of guests or customers and make things simpler not more complicated.

How it Really Works: 

  1. Communicate before you innovate
    Before you start improving upon the standard, always communicate up to your direct report. No boss likes to be surprised and you may find that your boss has different priorities for your time than what you want to innovate.

This article originally appeared here.