17 Dec

Global Leadership summit 2012 – Too afraid to fail?

Geoffrey Canada, part 2.

Failure is not something we like to admit to. Sometimes we hide it away, hoping we will learn from it ourselves.

Geoffrey’s running schools, hard ministries with very high expectations and high pressure positions that need people to deliver over and over again. He is trying to change a culture, not rescue a few kids. Geoffrey was right out there, naming his most regrettable mistake: giving people a second chance.

He had Bible-believing, passionate people who were desperate to see the change happen, but they were simply not up to the task required of them. It held the ministry back and it denied kids the best opportunities. He wished he had been able to recognise that he needed people who could deliver every time.

This one really got to me. We work in an organisation that is staffed by self-employed volunteers. Throw in the whole issue of ‘call’, and getting people out of jobs that they aren’t suited for, and are being unproductive in, can become very hard.

I stopped and looked at my roles and whether I fitted them or not.  What will I do when it is time to move out of those roles and hand them over?

12 Dec

Global Leadership Summit 2012 – Tipping Point

Geoffrey Canada, who started the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, gave a fascinating interview. His whole motivation is about changing the odds. He was totally passionate that there should be no part of a city where, when people manage to move on out, it is celebrated as a major achievement.

I wasn’t convinced that I was going to get much out of this interview, but as the weeks have gone on, I have probably referred to this session most. This is post 1 of 2 about his session. That probably tells you that I got more out of it than I realised!


Geoffrey was passionate about the young people in the neighbourhood that he grew up in, he was passionate about giving them a chance. He observed that all their badness comes down to the fact that they are contaminated with negative messages, of all varieties. The culture is contaminated, their lives are contaminated, their automatic reactions are contaminated, and everything about it is contaminated. They don’t understand right from wrong, so they make bad choices, because they don’t think they have choices.

He decided that, instead of going in and saving a kid or two, he wanted to pick a block and try to change the culture. He wanted to contaminate the culture with positive messages of hope and a future. He decided that there has to come a tipping point where any given kid is, against all the odds, receiving more positive messages that negative ones, allowing them to know right from wrong and make good choices.

He studied, and decided that, in order to pull that off, he would need 65–70% of their entire messages to be positive instead of negative. That would tip the balance in favour of the kids.

There are a lot of languages in Nigeria, well over 500 in fact. And there are a lot of mother-tongue (MT) Bible Translation projects going on. I have very close contact with only four of them, but I wondered what the tipping point would be in order to get MT Scriptures used in the churches in those areas. How many times do we need to pass on the message that MT Scripture has the most impact on people’s lives? What percentage of the Bible readings or sermons or songs needs to be MT before people see the value in it? And then make use of it all the time?

I don’t want to see so much time spent on translation work, or literacy work, or training, etc., only to have Bibles sit unused in boxes. I firmly believe that MT Scripture is the foundation for evangelism, church growth, personal growth and community transformation.

What would the tipping point be, to get the whole community involved in the project?

What would the tipping point be, to get MT scripture into every church?

What would the tipping point be, to get MT scripture into every home?

What would the tipping point be, to get all sermons preached in the mother tongue?

Not theoretical questions, but real issues in the projects I am involved in. I am sure it works all over the world. I’d love to know that some of the tipping points have been in other projects.

07 Dec

Global Leadership Summit 2012 – The Generations

Craig Groshel is the founder and senior pastor of lifechurch.tv, a thriving multimedia multi-site church. One of their products is youversion, the Bible app for mobile phones, tablets and computers. It is an exciting product for me, because there are plans afoot to get all the translations of the Bible in Nigeria (and the rest of the world) on there. Cool, hey? Great chance to hear from the guy who started it up.

I was looking forward to a talk about how to use technology to engage your team and enthuse people, but no – Paul a middle-aged man was going to talk about working across the generations. He turned out to be a great presenter, and I’d love to read some of his other materials.

To the older generation:
(He defined older – “If you need to ask the question, you are probably older.”)

If you are not dead, you are not done.
A motto many people in our org have lived by! His point was that maybe retiring from full-time ministry is appropriate, but you are never done leading people, never done influencing people, never done training people, never done mentoring people. If you aren’t dead, you aren’t done.

Don’t delegate tasks, delegate authority.
Delegating tasks will get jobs done and will create followers. Delegating authority will get jobs done, probably not the way you would do them, but it will create leaders. Invest in those behind you, they can do more than you did.

Authenticity trumps cool.
The younger generation isn’t bothered about cool – what they want is real. Don’t pretend to be something you are not, thinking that is going to solidify the relationship. You have to be authentic.

To the young ones:

You NEED those who have gone before you.
You can learn from them, avoid their mistakes, you can do more than they did. Get over your sense of entitlement. It isn’t your fault, it is what has been programmed into you by those who went before, but get over it! Because it will limit others’ ability to invest in you.

Honour those who have gone before you, and those who are over you.
Honour builds trust, it adds value and it builds up. Public honour allows private influence. Respect is earned by honour given.  Be intentional with giving honour, it needs to be above and beyond the normal expectation.

To both:

Create ongoing feedback loops.
Learn to listen to each other and learn to explore together.

Create specific mentoring moments.
If you aren’t deliberate about it, they will get pushed back and eventually never happen. If you are intentional about it, it will happen, it will create momentum and you will both benefit more from the session together.

01 Dec

Global Leadership Summit 2012 – Health

Yes, I am a little larger than I need to be. My body is probably not as efficient as it could be. Enough about me and on to organisational health, as shared by Patrick Lencioni.

Patrick claims that understanding your organisational health status could be your biggest competitive advantage. People want to work at a healthy organisation. People are better motivated when part of a healthy organisation. Now, working for a Bible translation ministry, competitive advantage isn’t exactly where we are at. Having said that, I do believe we can still apply some of the principles and get on with our task more efficiently, more effectively and produce better quality work reaching more people with bigger smiles on our faces.

5 things he says we can measure when considering our health status.

  1. Minimise policy
  2. Minimise confusion
  3. High moral standards
  4. High productivity
  5. Low staff turnover

Not sure where we would rank on those things. I think my group has quite a low amount of policy… so much so, that I think there needs to be a bit more in some areas!  But then I have to also consider my aspie nature that is driven by rules and regulations,  a nature that likes black and white, a nature is not happy with uncertainty. (I know, I know, HOW DO I SURVIVE IN NIGERIA!!?!)

Other things that he mentioned along the way…

Strategy should be accessible to everyone. An interesting bit of timing as we were currently looking at Nigeria Group strategy, and International are in the process of re-working theirs. Some call it reinvention.

Over-communicate. It takes a person to hear a message 7 times before it sinks in. I have heard it said that we are an intellectual bunch and so we shouldn’t need a message repeating. RUBBISH. It might mean we only need to hear it 5 times instead of 7, but it still needs communicating multiple times, preferably in multiple styles and mediums.

Reinforce the clarity through human systems. What does our finance system communicate about our core values? What does our membership structure communicate about us? What does out staff manual communicate about us? What does our website communicate about us? If we try to say one thing, but all our systems point to something else, people are going to believe the systems not the words.

It seemed a long-winded way of saying, “Do what you say!” If you have made a decision about something, follow through all the way, to the last man.

So where are we with these things? I don’t think I can give you my thoughts, because there are so many different parts to our organisation. International could improve a few of these things, Nigeria Group could improve a few of these things, and I personally could improve a few of these things…

I might also look up some of Patrick’s other materials.

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