Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jet boats and aircraft carriers

What's the difference between a jet boat and an aircraft carrier? Let's look at the features of each...

Jet boat
- Can go in shallow water or deep
- Can change directions quickly
- Carries a small load
- Requires little maintenance
- Has a low profile
- Crew size from one to ten; relatively simple to operate
- Moderately expensive
- Range of many miles
- Used for tourism, fishing, ferrying, policing, exploration, and racing

Aircraft carrier
- Can only go in oceans and seas
- Changes direction slowly
- Can carry 90 planes and helicopters
- Requires tons of maintenance
- One thousand feet long and over a hundred feet high
- Crew size of 5,000+; highly complex to operate
- Cost: $6 billion
- Range unlimited
- Used to fight enemies and rebuild countries

Last year I was talking to Derek, a ministry leader in the upper midwest. He compared leading a campus ministry team to driving a jet boat: ability to move fast and make adjustments very quickly. This was in contrast to being a regional leader where it feels more like piloting a warship: very slow to turn and requires a lot of people helping out to get things turned around. I remember him finishing the illustration this way: "What it's like to lead our whole ministry? I don't know, probably more like steering an aircraft carrier."

This has stuck with me as I've transitioned in to a regional and national role organizationally. There can be some challenges leading at a higher level within a large organization, complexity being one of the top. However, this complexity arises because of the large number of people and resources going after the goal, in our case helping reach every student and faculty member with the gospel.

There will be days where I'm sure I'll long for the simplicity and nimbleness of the jet boat. But there are some tasks that can only be accomplished by the aircraft carrier. If everybody on board gives their full effort to moving the carrier towards accomplishing those out, world.

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