The 10 Percent

10 sign
By @ 09/17/14 in Creative Process, Finishing, Team

So, I hope you did your homework.  It will be worth it.  Actually it would be a great exercise for your team to go through if your team is having trouble finishing projects.  It this problem is happening often, you must analyze to see if there are common patterns.  (Read the last blog for the team exercise.)

Before you get started with a project, you need answer this question for yourself and your team.

Why are you doing this?

Before you dive into that new idea, take a little while to ask yourself why you are doing it.    Does your team know what you are trying to accomplish?  Do they know how it meets the creative teams mission?  How does it meet the vision of your church?

Knowing these things is where some of the passion for the project or initiative is derived.

Are you and your team actually passionate about the creative initiative or
are you simply doing it because, eh, why not? What do you think accomplishing this project is going to provide for you, your team, the cause, your church?

Maybe your team is newly organized and they don’t know their purpose clearly.  Make it clear — very clear.  Your the leader, tell them often what their purpose is, both individually and as a team.  Spend some time thinking about this and decide where this is coming from before you waste time on doing it only to stop halfway yet again.

It’s my experience that If you and the team are really feeling strongly and passionately about the project, they will continue to move forward and they will not stop.  Finishing strong will be their goal.

By @ 09/15/14 in Finishing, Planning

Last week we began a blog series about finishing.  I entitled the series “The 10 Percent.”  I’d like to do this in a couple of segments.  First I’m gonna write about some things you should do before you get started.  That is important in making sure “finishing” can be realized.

The second set of blogs will be actual reasons creative teams don’t complete the task.

So, before you jump head in first, let me take you through some things to make sure you spend your valuable time wisely, and you can actually finish.

Let’s get started with reason #1  ::   Become Aware of Your Patterns

Have you found yourself starting and stopping projects a lot? Before you go down that rabbit-hole again, I want you to spend some time focusing on your patterns.

It’s gonna take some analysis and some very in-depth re-membering.  This is what you should do:

Write down all the projects and ideas you started but never finished. Any project or initiative that you started as a creative team and never was able to complete.  Think hard.
Try to remember what happened around the time you decided to put it off and why.  Anything?  Personnel changes?  System failures?  How much were you doing?  How much was on your team’s plate?  Don’t skip or pass by any detail.  Every detail is important.

Do you see any patterns?  Any items that show up at every failure?  Look hard and long.  Turn over every rock.

This is a good start in discovering the roadblocks to you and your team’s ability to “finish” well.

By @ 09/10/14 in Creative Process, Finishing, Problems

I’m in a new leadership position where I’ve been asked to evaluate the current creative arts systems, processes, staffing, etc.  I’m very excited about what I see.  Chandler Christian is a great place — a great church — and I can’t wait to see where God takes us.

In my evaluation, I keep running into what I’m gonna call “The 10 Percent.”  I’m finding that this common issue is showing up almost everywhere in the creative world I’ve been asked lead.

I haven’t explained “The 10 Percent” yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if your thinking and asking — “How can 10 percent cause so many difficulties?” Let me explain.

What I see all is good — actually it’s really good — no, it’s very good.

But it’s not finished.  It’s not complete.

In other words, most of what I see is 90 percent complete (some are more and others are slightly less).  And even though it’s really, really, really good stuff, because it’s not finished it’s causing many difficulties.

I know, “10 Percent” doesn’t seem like a big deal, but imagine this:  It’s not 10 percent in one area, or even two, but in just about every area.  Illustration:  Imagine taking 10 percent of stuff out of every room in your house.  Not just one room, but every single room.  Yes, even the garage.  Now, would it feel like home?  Probably not.  There would be TOO MUCH MISSING.  If you only removed 10 percent in one room, you probably could live through it, but your entire home missing that 10 percent —That’s a problem.  And it’s uncomfortable too.

In my situation, “The 10 Percent” creates problems for the creative team in these ways:

Personnel Issues
Equipment Inconsistencies
Systems and Process Failures

And of course, my Monday morning quarterbacking is telling me that it would have been easier just to finish it, but frankly, I can’t say that for certain because I don’t know the history of each of the projects.  I can say, however, that leaving the project 10 percent unfinished isn’t good enough.  And it is causing delays in moving forward.

And it’s not the first time I’ve seen this.  It’s definitely not the first time I’ve heard of this.  It can be a problem on many teams.  And yes, it can be a real problem on a creative team.  No matter what kind of team your on, not finishing the project will cause you difficulties.

So how can we change this?  How can we finish what we start?

I want to introduce some simple steps to help us stop wasting time and finally finish what we’ve started.

We’ll begin this journey next week.  And we will finish!!  Promise!

10 sign
By @ 09/08/14 in Creative Process, Finishing

I’d like to begin a new blog series about unfinished business.  I’m gonna title the series :  The 10 Percent.  And by the end of the blog series you will clearly know what I mean by that title.

I want to first present to you a Wikipedia entry on Unfinished Works.

Read this carefully and then on Wednesday I will dive into explaining why unfinished works happen and why the “10 Percent” is vitally important.

Wikipedia:  Unfinished Works
An unfinished work is creative work that has not been finished. Its creator may have chosen never to finish it or may have been prevented from doing so by circumstances outside of their control, such as death. Such pieces are often the subject of speculation as to what the finished piece would have been like; sometimes they are finished by others and released posthumously. Unfinished works have had profound influences on their genres and have inspired others in their own projects. The term can also refer to ongoing work which could eventually be finished and is distinguishable from “incomplete work”, which can be a work that was finished but is no longer in its complete form.

There are many reasons for work not being completed. Works are usually stopped when their creator dies, although some, aware of their failing health, make sure that they set up the project for completion. If the work involves other people, such as a cast of actors or the subject of a portrait, it may be halted because of their unavailability. Projects that are too grandiose might never have been finished, while others should be feasible but their creator’s continual unhappiness with them leads to abandonment.

Unfinished works by popular authors and artists may still be made public, sometimes in the state they were in when work was halted. Alternatively, another artist may finish the piece.

See you Wednesday!

By @ 09/03/14 in Building, Creative Team

The blog series continues as we talk about my philosophy of building the best creative team —  an A-Team.  Today is Part 10 and we look at the eighth and final principle.

Number 8:  Constantly Build

You can hire the best talent in the world, but remember it cannot stop there.  It MUST NOT stop there.

Development needs to occur at every level of the creative team … the top, middle, and bottom … and for always … forever and ever.  Amen

Yes, it’s true — hiring is a blend of art and science. The reality is that those creative organizations that identify, recruit, deploy, develop and retain the best talent will be the teams who thrive and create.  Thrive and create.  Thrive and create.

Never be done with building your team.  Life is a continuous learning experience for you and the team you lead. And team building and talent development takes work and is a consistent process, but you will be pleasantly surprised the impact it will make on you, your team, and your collective Kingdom impact.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog series about building an A-Team.  These are the things that I’ve learned and am learning in the process of building my creative teams.

Go get em!!

By @ 09/01/14 in Hiring, Leadership

We are in part nine of this blog series and we continue talking about building the best creative team —  an A-Team.  Today we look at the seventh principle.

Number 7:  Pay for talent

And I know the thoughts that many of you are thinking, especially the creative leaders that lead a church creative team.  Your budgets for personnel sometimes can’t compete.  And you are probably true.

Let me offer two perspectives.

Let’s first state the facts that are true regardless of the size of your budget:  Talent has an uncanny way of attracting more talent. And if you are paying more for that artist and it is the right hire, you and the creative team and the organization will be paid in many ways you are not even considering. To put it bluntly, you get what you pay for … real talent produces real results, and is worth the investment.

Perspective 1:  What I just said.  Paying a creative what he or she deserves is what we should do.  Because it’s right and because if you pay them well, they will stick around.  (and all the other reasons I mentioned in the preceding paragraph)

And we are just talking about pay here.  A good salary alone won’t keep them around.  And if you’ve read my blogs for any time at all you know what I’m talking about.  You must take care of them in every way.  Again, it’s what real good creative leaders do.

With that said, let me expand my thought here about salaries with the next perspective:

Perspective 2:  The Creative also needs to understand that they are not going to get rich working on a church creative team.  Yes, they need to be taken care of, but they will not become wealthy.  Probably.  LOL.

The creative leader, during the hiring process, needs to determine if the artist is truly called to ministry.  Yep, you heard me correctly.  Are they called to ministry — do they want to minister by using the talent and skill they were given by God?  That’s important.  If they are just looking for a job, they will be disappointed by the pay.

If they are truly wanting to join your team and minister with a team of Creatives, then when they compare their salary to that of a comparable secular artist, they won’t care if there is a gap.  Guaranteed.

You cannot afford NOT to invest in talent.

Be wise:  Invest in talented artistic and creative ministers.

By @ 08/27/14 in Creative Team, Hiring, Leadership

The blog series continues as we talk about my philosophy of building the best creative team —  an A-Team.  Today is Part 8 and we look at the sixth principle.

Number 6:  Hire Leaders

Frankly, this is going to be a very short blog.  Why?  Because I just think that this is a very simple concept and it won’t take me very long to clearly explain this important principle.

I hear leaders complain about this issue quite often.  And yes, creative leaders too.  This is what I hear:

I just have a lack of leadership on my team.  I have skilled and talented artists, but they just aren’t leading like I feel they should.  Or I hear this:  It is very difficult to identify leaders in my organization or on my team.

So here’s my question:  WHY DON’T YOU HIRE LEADER’S TO BEGIN WITH?

Yep, It’s that simple.  Sorry.

The development of an leader you already have on your team is faster, easier, and more effective than creating a new leader.

Done!  We will continue the conversation on Monday.  Have a great weekend!

By @ 08/25/14 in Culture, Hiring, Leadership

We are in part seven of this blog series and we continue talking about building the best creative team —  an A-Team.  Today we look at the fifth principle.

Number 5:  Culture based hiring is important

You’ve probably heard this very well-used adage : Culture eats strategy for breakfast.  Better put — Culture eats strategy for breakfast every times!

Your creative team (or organization) will fail to be a sustainable and scalable when the creative leader has no meaningful purpose to create team unity to fight through the tough times. Your team will then settle into a perpetual state of “stealth mode.”

Let’s look at the definition of Stealth: a secret, clandestine, or surreptitious procedure.  Webster definition reads : : a secret, quiet, and clever way of moving or behaving.

To succeed, strategies can’t just live on paper – they must be part of employees’ everyday actions and decisions.  They need to be a natural action for them.  How can this happen?  By making them invisible or stealth.  The leader should talk about them.  Repeat them often.  Explain them and then talk about them again.  Rinse and repeat.

Why would you want to make who your team truly is and what they stand for a mystery?  Why would you want to hide your team values?  Everyone should know them and understand them and believe them and live them.

Culture matters … a lot more than you may believe. You can either spend time finding employees who share your organization’s values, or deal with the brain drain of managing conflicts that arise due to opposing values. Ignore culture in the hiring process and all other hiring initiatives will be diminished, if not lost altogether.

By @ 08/21/14 in Leadership, Networking

The blog series continues as we talk about my philosophy of building the best creative team —  an A-Team.  Today we look at the fourth principle.

Number 4:  Always be in talent search mode

Yes.  That means always!

Long before I took my new position as Pastor / Creative Arts at Chandler Christian just a couple weeks ago, I had my eyes open for possible team members.  As I network, I am always filing away thoughts and records of people in which I come in contact.  And I not only note those I meet but also those who I hear about.

And yes, this principle applies even if you are not yet ready to hire.

Never let your church (or organization) be put behind the talent 8-ball, because great talent is almost never available on a moment’s notice. Some of the best hires I’ve made over the years were people that I spent months, and in some cases, years developing relationships with.

And if your reading this blog post you know who you are.  You were worth the wait.

Just remember: always keep your eye open for talent.  Cultivate the network and relationships of talented people.  And wait for it.  The talent you choose will be well worth it.

By @ 08/18/14 in Creative Team, Leadership, Team

We continue this blog series talking about my philosophy of building the best creative team — a great team —  an A-Team.  Today we look at the third principle.

Number 3: Take your time

I don’t know how long ago I heard this and learned this.  I don’t even remember who it came from, but I have learned over the years being a creative leader that it is a wise “rule” to follow:

Hire slow and Fire fast!

It’s easy to get yourself in a panicked situation and talk yourself into something that might be right, but you haven’t done the “due diligence” yet.  It’s O so easy to make a regrettable hire and then in the future (and often it’s the near future) realize you made a regrettable hire — and it was out of desperation.

Give yourself plenty of runway.

And it will be different with each hire.  Some planes need a long runway to take off, others very short distances.  Sometimes the information about the candidate will be there quickly and from numerous sources.  Each time you turn around more great information about the person is hitting you in the face.  And the chemistry — just right.  You can feel it.

Other times — well — it doesn’t come so quickly.  You literally have to wait for it.  And it comes or it doesn’t.  Either way, the point is to wait for the answer.  Either the “yes” or the “no.”

It will behoove you (I just thought I’d use that word today — behoove) to take your time and make a good hire and resist the urge to use the “ready-fire-aim” method of hiring.

Wait for It!