Category Archives: Planning
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.
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.
People come to church on Easter and Christmas. They are almost a captive audience. They will come at a friends invitation more readily than any other time of the year. And this is a good thing.
However, in my mind it gives me even more cause to make sure that the programming is clear and captivating. And no I didn’t say entertaining. We don’t have to put on a show, but we do need to make the presentation smooth. It does need to flow and make sense to them. It also needs to captivate and demand their attention. And that take planning.
And I could go many different places for this discussion, but I’ve decided to camp out in one small place — the place where many of our creative team’s minds go when they think of holiday programming — to the bad and ugly.
Why is holiday programming so dreaded?
Let me give you some of my brief thoughts and experiences. And I’m gonna break it up into four categories::
Lack of Planning — if your team has trouble planning ahead for the regular week, well, nothing will probably change for the holidays. But often times I see good planning for 50 weeks of the year and a hesitation when it comes to getting the plans made for holidays. I think I know why. It’s the same story every year. Easter and Christmas doesn’t change, but we want to think of a fresh way of telling these stories. OK. Then isn’t that another reason to get to planning early. And you know that the programming is often more intense — more crammed into the same time slot. Be careful of that, but if that’s what you always do — plan!!
Poor Process — and this has everything to do with the first, but in a bigger way. You just have to put more planning into holidays. Start earlier and work longer on the plan. But if your overall process is flawed, then you will not be able to leave yourself enough time to plan the big holiday program. Frankly, the other 50 weeks will squeeze the holiday life right out of you and your team. In short, you have to have your ducks in a row all year in order for there to be resources remaining for the holiday program.
Personnel — on Monday I tagged this as ill-informed personnel — and this an important tag and where I want spend my time. (but there are many other places I could go on this subject). So this is what I mean. Holiday programming is different. There is often a higher standard placed on these weekends. And often there is a different twist to these weekends and at the same time they need to be much like the other 50 weeks of the year. The pastor often has a special place in his heart for holiday programming. So as I blab on I’m really trying to say the leader of the creative arts will need to make sure the team is well informed on what is expected for these special weekends. Do they know the goal? the target? the sameness of the weekend? and the differences? What the pastor is communicating?
Your Pastor — of course the creative arts team will blame the difficulties on the pastor. That’s why I wrote my book — relationship issues. But let me explain why the creatives may be right this time. Read carefully. As I mentioned earlier, it takes planning to make holiday programming successful. The other difficulty mentioned is that there is a problem finding freshness in the same Easter and Christmas story. These two together can sink you. And what I often see is that these two paralyze the pastor. They have a problem deciding on a way to communicate the story in a new way and they often freeze. Which delays planning? Which delays planning? Which delays planning? oops — now we scramble and there isn’t enough time remaining. And now we have stress. And now we hate holiday programming — again.
Force the Issue!
Get to it early! Very early!
The ebb and flow of the year keeps us on our toes. And frankly, it seems that the rhythm of the year never seems to let up. We seem to always push ourselves to be better — much better.
The creative circle turns at a rapid pace. 52 turns per year.
And in that cycle are holidays. And I know what just happened when you read that — you felt a pit in your stomach or maybe you just rolled you eyes in an attempt to push away the obvious emotions the thought brings.
We know those holidays are coming. They’re on the schedule almost always at the same times each year and yet many creative teams dread them. Why?
In my opinion, there are some obvious things that cause the problems. And there are roadblocks that we don’t want to see. There truly is a good, bad and ugly to this holiday discussion.
On Wednesday, I’ll spell out my thoughts. Don’t miss it.
I’ve blogged about this concept a few times before. It’s a concept that any good creative process must remember and follow.
Wet Cement :: it’s important to make plans and nail down the specifics, however, the details need to be viewed as “wet cement” rather than concrete.
This means that anything can be tweaked along the way. If you have the opportunity to strengthen an idea or process, do it. It will increase the power of a communication initiative, a creative idea or complex system.
It’s true that timing is everything. And yes, this concept has it’s boundaries. You must be wise when implementing. In other words, there will be times when a change might strengthen an idea, but isn’t the right thing to do for the team. That is an important part of the picture.
And there’s one more twist to consider. Creatives will continue tweaking their creation for … well .. forever. If you let them. There is an appropriate time when you need to call it done — concrete. A creation has a point when any improvements won’t be noticed. It’s time for the Creative to move on and work on “perfecting” other projects.
Just a few thoughts for leaders of creative teams to consider!
First, let me remind you of some recent Sun Valley history.
In October of 2011, Sun Valley merged with Bethany Community. It was an exciting and somewhat scary time for both churches. Both were excited because they anticipated great things happening — God things. They would also tell you the unknown was a little scary. Why? Well, many have planted churches. Many have rescued churches in trouble. But mergers? Not a lot of examples to learn from.
In short, it’s been a year now and things have gone very well. Growth has happened. And yes, some things did change. Actually, lots of things.
One of those things that changes was the way the SV Tempe campus would do worship. You see, Bethany was more traditional in style. Sun Valley is a more contemporary or modern style church. And Sun Valley would be the model in this merger.
So what did that mean? It meant that the Global Creative Arts Team would provide both a traditional AND modern worship experience on the Tempe campus.
We decided to keep the traditional service instrumentation very simple. We use a piano and periodically use an organ. The modern experience would utilize the typical worship band :: drums, lead, acoustic, bass and keys.
And this brings me to the focus of this blog post :: the band on the grow.
Last week I celebrated the great things happening on our Gilbert campus with our volunteer bands. This week I get to celebrate the wonderful things happening with our Tempe musicians.
I’m excited about this story. So is Kim, our worship leader at SV Tempe.
Wednesday, I’ll brag a little and give you some specifics about the what and why of our success in Tempe.
Christmas began for us many, many weeks ago. We had the formal creative meeting the first week of October.
But actually the planning started before then. Like you, we knew Christmas was coming. Everyone knew it was coming and because of that, conversations began unofficially in many circles.
One of the circles was the lead team on our Gilbert campus. And they came up with a good idea for a Christmas theme by simply talking about the possibilities of the Christmas offering. They had some really good thoughts about where the focus of the offering could go.
The offering information and ideas sparked a Christmas theme idea. We really thought it was a good idea. We ran with the idea even before the creative meeting. We checked our sources. We gathered facts. We asked the right questions and talked to the people we needed to talk to in order to decide if this idea was worthy of debate.
So the process began. And here we sit a few days before the launch very ready. Materials were collected weeks ago. The video shoots began weeks ago. The invitations were determined and printed weeks ago. Costumes for children’s event purchased and rented weeks ago.
When does Christmas begin for Sun Valley? Far enough in advance so that when the series begins, calmness is everywhere, and complete trust is in what we’ve created.
It’s a great feeling? You’ll love it. Your creatives will love it. Your team will celebrate it.
And your community will reap the benefits. BIG!
For Christmas, we needed to shoot the series teaser and bumper at a couple of area business locations. And the locations had to be very specific :: cardboard box maker and grocery store.
It’s not the only time in recent history that we’ve needed to use area businesses, industry or retail locations. For some reason, the process of securing an acceptable location became very alive on my radar. Probably because one location was very easy to secure, the other, not so easy.
Actually, it became very much of a headache.
The box manufacturer, Ace Packaging in Phoenix, from the very first phone call was excited about partnering with us. They had the facility we needed for the video. They had the product we needed to buy for the mission’s endeavor our church was embracing. And to top it off :: they believed in the cause we were championing. Their hospitably was actually overwhelmingly a great experience.
Of course you know that local churches need to partner with local businesses and retailers. We know that very well.
But the Creative Arts Ministries need to understand how these partners can catapult your creativity with their involvement.
When looking for a business partner remember
- state what you need clearly
- explain exactly what you need to accomplish
- when given permission, do exactly what you said (no more)
- thank them for their permission and partnership
Next Friday I’ll tell you about the nightmare we encountered in securing the other business location.
We had worshipped without video for centuries. Why not another day?
What do you learn from these situations? And for some of us :: what are we reminded of when these type of things happen to us at “go” time.
It’s simple :: throw in the white flag. You can’t fix what you can’t fix. It’s no, it’s not that you can’t fix it. You just can’t fix it within the time you have — which may be no time. And yes, some of you tech geeks are saying, “I could have fixed it eventually.” You might have been able to fix it, but would you have been able to fix it without distraction?
And while you’re fixing it, are you able to concentrate on what’s happening in worship? You know, worship is still going on, not just exactly the way you planned. Your call.
What I’m saying is this :: yes, it’s really ok to raise the white flag and regroup. Go ahead with whatever you’ve decided is Plan B.
You are not Superman. And you’re definitely not God. So you’re gonna lose sometimes.
After years of services. Month after month. Every week. Multiple weekend services. The odds will catch up with you. We aren’t perfect and neither is the equipment we work with.