Author Archives: Rick Calcutt
Did you have time to think about your answers to Monday’s questions? If you’re going to have a good run at an experiment then you have to consider these questions. You have to think about the experiment before you start. You have to consider the process during the experiment. Bottom line: you have to be questioning every step of the planned experiment.
So here are my answers to the questions ::
What are the marks of a good experiment?
A good experiment is planned. Yes, planned. Leaders must know the culture of those they are leading. They must know the reality of how things truly are — beyond perceptions. And a leader is able to make decisions that point to a planned destination.
This is a plan.
And a plan that must be analyzed at every move. Yes, and there needs to be a nimbleness to make mid-course corrections.
What about a bad experiment?
Ready – Fire – Aim!
I’m glad to see a leader who isn’t afraid to begin, but a bad beginning often leads to a bad ending. There are lots of questions to ask ahead of time. A leader knows those questions and wouldn’t dare begin without answers.
A bad experiment usually is preceded by a shallow plan. Don’t do this. Wait if you have to. Patience. Or the experiment will fail — an absolutely.
Does a creative arts team really need to be experimenting? Is this wise?
And the answer is a resounding — YES and ABSOLUTELY!
Do your homework and risk it. We have a big God. Trust Him. He will come through. But don’t be stupid and ready, fire, aim.
Get the team ready. Aim well. Aim wisely. Then FIRE!
When should you experiment? Are there times you shouldn’t?
When I’m asked questions. Just about anything and everything, there is always the question that comes :: when?
And I know that this question would come in this instance. When should I experiment? What they are really asking is :: can you give me some guides to look for so I know when it’s a good time “to jump.”
OK. Here’s my answer to that.
A good time to experiment is when you are ready. When you understand your culture well enough to determine where you are. When you know the problem and mostly understand the solution. When you have devised a plan. When you’ve thought about the plan :: and have a plan. When you’ve communicated the plan well. When your team is in a good place to put the time necessary to the task. When you find your team flexible enough to change and re-adjust.
Note :: I’ll being going into a much deeper dialogue on this subject in the next edition of http://www.sundaymag.tv/ I’ll let you know when it is released.
Mr. Rzykruski is Disney character in Frankenweenie. As an elementary science teacher, he serves as a mentor and inspiration to the main character, Victor. And Mr. Rxykruski is correct: The truth about leadership is that you will encounter failures and make mistakes. Remember every leader goes through times of failure however not every leader successfully moves through it. But success or failure can’t happen without movement — with a forward moving target.
Mr. Rxykruski and I call it an experiment. Others call it a failure.
Some leaders allow “these failures” to stop them while others turn them into stepping stones.
I’ve been in ministry leadership for 28 years and during every season there were experiments that moved me forward and others that needed to be tweaked and retried.
- What are the marks of a good experiment?
- What about a bad experiment?
- Does a creative arts team really need to be experimenting? Is this wise?
- When should you experiment? Are there times you shouldn’t?
I”ll answer these questions on Wednesday.
Answer these questions yourself and let’s compare answers on Wednesday.
Time :: You Don’t Have Enough of It
It takes way more time to do an install than you think. Just the engineering and purchase of the system will take a major amount of hours, days or even weeks.
And then you still have to do the install. And should I remind you that you have weekends to worry about. Yep, Sunday comes around every 7 days wether you want it to or not.
Don’t kill your staff over a few dollars!
Smarts :: You Don’t Have Enough of that Either
OK. I’m not saying your stupid, but your not a professional in integrating systems. There’s a reason you and your team do what they do.
There’s also a reason why the professional integrator does what they do. There’s a reason why they have customers. And there’s a reason why they are still in business. They know what they are doing.
They know things you don’t know. And one of those things you don’t know my kill you or one in your church community. And there’s codes to follow. And you probably don’t know those either.
Money :: You Don’t Have Any to Waste
Am I right? I mentioned in Monday’s blog article that I understand all of our problems of short budgets. So, it’s true. You don’t have time to waste.
A good integrator will save you money. They will install what you need. And if they are really good. They will only install what you need and will advise you to stay away from stuff you don’t need. And I guarantee that this list is long and you don’t even know it.
A good integrator will also make sure the system is installed correctly and works efficiently and for a long time. This will also save you money.
Longevity :: You Don’t Want to Replace It Soon
The worst thing you could do is install a system that isn’t going to last. Or a system you are going to grow out of.
If money really is a problem — an it is for most of us — you want to make sure the right system is installed. One that will last a while. A long while.
I don’t to be that guy who has to go back to leadership in a few years and ask for more money to redo a project I just fought for. That’s not a good thing at all. Especially for a happy future with that leadership.
CYA :: Your Team Doesn’t Need the Blame
OK. Remember all the above reasons. If you allow your team to install for any of these reasons, then shut up if it doesn’t work. And don’t get mad if there are problems.
My team does small projects, but not the large projects without major input from professionals.
I know. You can’t afford to hire an AVL Integrator. Yes you can. Be patient with what you need. Take it slow and get what you need.
It will be the best choice for now and the future. Trust me!
Recently I visited a church and got the tour of their worship center. During the tour I was told about major lighting work that needed to be done. I was pleased that the leadership of the church understood the need and wanted to do something about it.
But then, I was told on how they were going to get the major lighting upgrade accomplished. Cheaply. In house. And yes without the help of a lighting professional.
Not a good decision.
Let me be clear. This is a big lighting renovation he described to me. Not just a few new lights. New everything. Even a ton of electrical work. New dimmers. DMX addition. Theatrical & architectural lighting integration. A big job!
I see and hear about scenarios just like this from churches often. And I get it. Budgets are tight and if part of the monies have to go to the professional designer and installer? Yep. That’s usually the conversation.
At Sun Valley, we find ourselves right in the middle of a major conversation about audio upgrades at our Tempe campus. And it’s a major and complete redo of the audio system. Every aspect of the audio system needs to be replaced.
Could we do this renovation alone — in house? Yes, my guys could. Absolutely, but in my years of experience this is stupid.
And do we have budget constraints? You bet we do. But that just means It’s gonna take us just a bit longer to get the RIGHT system installed — completely. So we are going to have to be patient. Because a bad system now won’t help us.
On Wednesday I’ll talk about what our plan will probably end up looking like. And I’ll also describe why I’ll absolutely use an AVL integrator even when funds are tight.
See you Wednesday.
Vacations are planned. Most of my team has some idea of their summer plans. And those plans have been factored into the overall creative process at Sun Valley.
But let’s take a look at a couple of problems I mentioned Monday that cause the summer to be more heated than it needs to be.
First :: the process :: effective and complete process
If you are operating on week to week basis then the summer is going to bite you. You just want have the personnel, the time or the capacity to get the work done and give your team opportunity to take vacation. Something will give. Something has to.
There needs to be a creative process in place that provides time for your artists. Time for them to create at a capacity that let’s them be all the artist they can be. And time to be better than they can be.
And in reverse :: the process allows for you to let them get away to refresh.
In my description of this problem on Monday, I also used the word — complete. You don’t just need a process, but a complete process. A creative process that allows your team not only create and design, but a process that allows them to finish well too.
If the creation is complete, then why begin?
Second :: the tweak
Again, as I said on Monday. If you have a good and complete creative process you are well on your way to getting through the summer unscathed. But it will take some consideration — a careful look at the cycle of team members taking time for vacation.
As with any team, when a member is going to be a way, even if for a few days, the leader has to plan for their absence. And for those that work on a creative arts team, you know the consistent business of the schedule. Because of this, careful planning and scheduling during vacation seasons is a must.
Plan ahead always, but especially during the summer!
The official start of the summer for many of us. Here in Arizona, most of the schools are out for the summer. Many of my friends are already off on their summer vacations. And many of my friends’ kids back East will be out of school soon too and they will be on their way to Myrtle Beach or some other great family destination.
It’s summer and time for relaxation.
Or is it?
What about your creative arts team or any other team you serve on? Are they ready to relax for the summer or do things heat up to a point that brings your team to a boiling point? It can happen. It does happen and there are typical reasons for this problem.
And it is a problem!
It’s a problem for the team, for the church, for your pastor, for you — everyone. But there are ways to prevent this from happening.
(I will discuss some of the problems today and dive deeper into them on Wednesday)
First, if there isn’t a great and complete creative process in place, then the summer is going to be a problem. When your team needs to get away with their kids and the preparations for the big Fall series are fast approaching. There will be a melt down.
Secondly :: Let’s assume there is a good process in place. Good for you. That means you’re less likely to fall into the summer trap. But have you really considered the vacation schedules of your team. Your great creative process will need to be groomed and coddled a bit. A bit? Actually a lot!
Here in Arizona, things are heating up. Faster than we would like — the thermostat may be climbing, but at Sun Valley, things are still relatively cool. We are on pace and still on schedule with our plans. We know where we are on providing the collateral needed for upcoming series. And we have the Fall series clearly in out sights.
Wednesday, I’ll dive a bit deeper into the fixes for the summer slump or should we say the summer bump.
See ya Wednesday.
On Monday we talked about the periodic consideration and analyzation of your team and the possibility of reorganization. Simply looking at each position individually and the team as a whole and analyzing strengths and weaknesses.
One of the big reasons for doing this would be the issue of capacity.
I don’t know how many times I’ve talked with creatives and creative leaders and creative teams and heard these statements ::
- We can’t do any more
- My team can barely get done what’s on our plate now
- I never have any down time
And team leaders — you need to take this seriously, because if the capacity issue or capacity problem lingers for long, there will be a pay day. And it won’t be pretty. You will end up with poor creativity or no creativity. You will have warn-out team members. And the team will probably not act well as a team. The problems will multiply.
So what do you do?
As a creative leader, first look at reorganization. Can the load be shifted and thus, managed more easily? If that isn’t enough and if you have the authority, get more help. Now this may mean leaning on volunteers more. It’s possible you weren’t using them effectively — take a long look at this. Volunteers are a vital part of the team.
Hire more team members. At some point, if more is required, you will need more capacity to accomplish it.
And I hear some of you saying this, “But the leadership of the church — they don’t understand our dilemma.”
OK. Maybe they don’t. And whose fault is that? That’s an important question that I will talk about next week. This is a cancer that I see in team relationships — between leadership and creatives — it must be fixed!
Let’s talk next week.
The implementation of the creative process was the best I’d ever seen. Why? New team was introduced to the system, so they drank it up. And I had lead pastors that gave me a major amount of space to set it up. And it worked!
We are making tweaks and changes as we go. Trying to make the process work the best for us at Sun Valley. The process itself is strong, but you will find that each organization has its little peculiarities that will force you to make subtle changes to the process. Remember: The process is a tool that should work FOR you.
But what about re-org? Why do I bring that up now?
In my world, I look at reorganization every two years. And I start thinking about it early because it’s an important task. I take the time needed to look at every task a team member performs. The assignments they have are under scrutiny in a few ways ::
- How are the performing on a particular task? Good? Bad? Weak? Strong?
- Is the task assigned to the correct team member? If not, then who?
- Are the team members grouped correctly?
- Should I move someone to answer to someone else?
- Do I need new positions on the team? Do I need less in an area?
- Do I need to split a position?
- Do I need to eliminate a position?
I turn over every rock.
And I do it to strengthen the team and the individual members of the team. As the year and years go by, things change, processes morph, people change, the vision shifts — all of these and more dictate the need to evaluate the organization.
It is a must for any organization!
The purpose of this blog is obvious :: I want to help creative teams and pastors in churches everywhere to do what they do better. If sharing something we’re doing at Sun Valley helps :: great!
What I don’t do often, however, is share some of my personal story.
But I’m going to today, because Kaytie told me to.
Who’s Kaytie? She’s my 6-year-old granddaughter. And I got to baptize her yesterday. I’ve gotten to baptize all of my three children. And now I get to begin again, baptizing my grand kids!!
It doesn’t get better than that.
And Kaytie saw the video and said, “Tell everyone Poppy.”
So I am.
By the Way :: Sun Valley baptized 184 people this weekend at three of our campuses. PTL!!
The following three life-change stories is our first “package of videos.”
On Monday I shared with you the Easter Weekend intro to the trilogy. And we also wanted to makes sure we had a video for each of the following three weeks of the series. And we wanted a life-change story from each of our campuses.
This was all achieved.
Even though the videos were different stories, we wanted to ensure that the stories had a thread of similarity running through them. We accomplished this by ::
– keeping the video sight the same
– the method we told the stories
– even the props, bench, etc.
Each wrote their story for us. We ask people we are videoing to “throw up” on a piece of paper. In other words, tell us everything — nothing is too minor in the timeline.
Then we find the story within their writing. Help them express that in clear terms. Produce the outline. Have them live with it for a while.
Then — the Video Shoot.
Enjoy these great stories.