Thursday, August 09, 2012

Willow Creek Leadership Summit

Mandy and I attended our first Willow Creek Leadership Summit in 2000, just a few days after we had moved to the SF Bay Area.  It was a great way to begin our new life there.  The next time we went was 2006, just seven months after we had moved to Memphis.  Today we got to go again.  It was great to be there with Mandy.  We get to process what we are learning and how we can apply it to Neighborhood Church, but Mandy gets to apply it to everything that she is now doing with education advocacy as well.

When I go to conferences like these, my hope is to come away with a few big ideas.  The first big idea today was not anything new.  It was something I had heard before, something that had definitely been a big idea before. And fortunately, it was something that I've been putting into practice since I heard it.  But it was a great reminder.  It has to do with self-leadership, and it was from Bill Hybels.  He's had a practice for some time now to list the six top things he wants to commit to working on over the next six weeks.  These are things that are extremely important, but also things that, if not pursued with aggressive intentionality, will be left undone.  Over the past year I've been looking at things this way.  I've been asking questions like, "What one or two things do only I bring to the (NC) table?"  This was a great reminder to continue to develop this habit.

The second big idea came from Jim Collins.  His entire talk was great (based on his latest book Great By Choice), but one thing really stood out for me.  He said that the greatest danger for an organization is not failure.  Instead, it's to be successful, but to not have a clue as to why you are successful.  It caused me to ask a few questions about Neighborhood Church.  What does success look like at NC?  If we are successful, do I know what makes us this way?  What about our key leaders?  Do they know?  Is it one of those things that's so obvious that we never talk about it?  Or at least some of us think it's obvious.  If it's not obvious to everyone, and we're not talking about it in a way that it is creating common language within our culture, then we are in danger.  What's the danger?  It's that we won't play to our strengths, but more than that, Collins says that we won't be strong in those moments where strength is desperately needed (times of chaos).

Now this has nothing to do with just patting ourselves on the backs and ignoring obvious weaknesses.  It does, however, have everything to do with one of the main principles from his first book, Built to Last: "Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress."  We have to know what those core values are; those unchanging principles that drive our organization whether we know it or not.  But it helps so much when we recognize and give words to it.  Because then we will have freedom to create, which leads to more innovation and progress.

I want to give more thought to this, but I do believe that it's a big thing for me.  I'm looking forward to another day of this.  Maybe one or two more big ideas!

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