Friday, August 13, 2010

Individual glory, team effort

We all remember Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. It's a record that will probably never be broken.

Shannon, one of our national leaders, showed us the clip below to remind us that even this greatest of individual accomplishments required an extraordinary team effort along the way:

I got chills watching this again, low resolution and all.

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.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New National Director School - meet the students

I love the people I get to work with on staff.

Earlier tonight I had dinner with the other new National Directors (formerly "Regional Directors"). It was a lot of fun connecting casually before really getting down to business tomorrow. There are only seven of us, so we'll get to know each other pretty well over the next few days. Here is the lineup:

- Matt and Liz: Matt was formerly the Missional Team Leader at University of Missouri. He and Liz just recently moved to Boulder, CO to be the Campus Field Ministry Directors for the Great Plains Region. Matt spoke last summer at our New Missional Team Leader training in Colorado, sharing some of the work God has done in his life. Sometimes we'll hear of crazy testimonies that we'll tell other staff "you've got to hear his/her testimony". His is one of those.

- Sheila has been at Missouri State and is, like Matt, taking on the role of Campus Field Ministry Director for the Great Plains Region (for those of you not familiar, that role typically has a male and female in the role coaching the field staff leaders of the region). She just came off helping lead the San Diego Summer Project.

- Ben is my Operations Director counterpart in the Great Lakes region. He was the Missional Team Leader for the Cleveland Metro ministry before he and his family moved to Indianapolis to join the Great Lakes Leadership Team.

- Tim is in the middle of the biggest transition of all of us. He has been the Missional Team Leader at Northwestern University but is moving out of his native Great Lakes region to take on the Campus Field Ministry Director role for the Red River region in their regional headquarters of Austin, TX. He has a seminary degree from Trinity, and was planning on pursuing a PhD, before this opportunity came up.

- Amy has been the Western US Field Coach for the Impact Movement (Campus Crusade partner ministry to African-Americans) this past year but is now returning to her native city of Portland to be the Ethnic Field Ministry Director for the Greater Northwest. Amy has been based in Orlando for the past year and just finished packing her stuff up to be shipped back to Portland two hours before we had dinner tonight.

- Me, the new Operations Director for the Greater Northwest.

We're all staying across the street from our world headquarters at Wycliffe Bible Translators where they have some nice apartments for us to stay in during our time here. (Best part: they have wifi.)

Really looking forward to learning from and interacting with these other leaders.

[Breaking news: Trae from Bridges (International Student ministry) just started ringing our doorbell at midnight. Fortunately I was still up to let him in. I guess there are eight of us now! Trae is based in Austin and is a Field Ministry Director for Bridges.]

Covey's "Speed of Trust", the Kindle, Facebook, and the GNW

I bought my first Kindle book today.

During the plane change in Denver today I got a Facebook message inviting me and some of the staff leaders in our region to join a Facebook discussion thread in our Greater Northwest staff Fb group. We would be sharing thoughts and ideas around the idea of building trust with others, with the book "Speed of Trust" by Covey as the framework.

Not having the book and wanting to jump in sooner rather than later, I sprung for the Kindle version (using the iPhone app, not the Kindle hardware). Unfortunately, it didn't download before the friendly Southwest flight attendants asked us to turn off our portable devices. But, it quickly showed up once my phone was on in Orlando. I'm curious to see what the experience is like to read a whole book on my phone. The kindle price of $12.99 is higher than the paperback cost, so there is certainly a premium on convenience.

I'm also curious to see what it is like to have a virtual book discussion with staff from our region. Will people engage? How frequently? Will they have to be prompted to share? Will sharing about building trust? Is there a better way to do this than via a Facebook discussion thread?

Personal systems update - OmniFocus and Evernote

As you read this, I'll hopefully be somewhere between Portland and Denver en route to Orlando.

There are few times in my life with as much uninterrupted time as a cross-country flight. While I'll probably need to sleep for some of it (got up at 4 AM), I should have a good chunk to get some work done. Here are two new tools in my workflow since I switched to Mac. I'll probably be using these heavily while in my narrow little workspace.

OmniFocus: I'm still in the 14-day trial period of this Cadillac of task managers, but it's likely I'll be pulling the trigger and paying the $80 (!) when the time comes. It's really slick and helps me to stay on top of all the different projects that are starting to take shape in my new role. Being someone who needs GTD in their life to function professionally, this Mac-only software is elegant and simple but can be as involved and complex as needed. The iPhone app is another $20, so I'll be out $100 by the time it's all through, but nearly all the reviews say it's worth it. From what I've experienced so far, I agree.

Evernote: I've had this one for a while but just figured out how I'm going to use it. I'm still developing my process, but so far I have notebooks for 1. Inbox (for notes on the go that I can categorize later) 2. Groups and meetings (both prep for and notes during) 3. People (that I meet/talk with regularly - again, prep and notes) 4. Projects (thoughts and prep for different projects. When they become tasks they move to OmniFocus.) and 5. Reference (it's a catch all right now, but I'm working on breaking it down to a few simple categories. The tag feature is nice, but so far I'm just using notebooks.

So there you have it. And if you're wondering why I only have six people on my list in the screenshot above...I'm still transferring stuff in. It will be a lot more populated a month from now!

One thing I love about these products: They are in the cloud but also back-up locally (though EN does it better than OF).

What do you think? Do you use these tools? If not, what do you use to manage tasks and notes?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Update: New National Director's training this week

I'll be in Orlando the rest of this week at a training for those new in their roles as Regional National Director's. (The nomenclature is still new and unfamiliar organizationally. I'm a National Director of Operations that shapes the US Campus Ministry as a whole but focuses within a particular region.) It came on the calendar relatively recently, but I'm looking forward to getting time with our national leadership in the USCM as well as other new regional/national leaders. There will only be eight of us, so probably won't be able to hide in back during meetings. ;)

Hopefully I'll be able to share some of the content and insight from our time during the event via twitter and this blog. The schedule is above.

Anything on here you want me to make sure and take good notes on?