If we had it to do all over again, what would we do all over again? What worked?
Question they asked themselves after 20 years at Northpoint Community Church: “Why did our organization grow so fast?” Answer: “we had a uniquely better product.” Nobody was doing church the way we were doing it meaning we didn’t have to be the best at it because we were the only game in town.
“If you have the only hot dog stand in town you don’t have to be the best one.”
But now, we’re not unique anymore. The competition looks the same. Which means you have to innovate again and find the next uniquely better thing. “Discovering” that is slim. “Recognizing” it is more likely. The “uniquely better idea” is usually a solution to a problem that successful organizations don’t have. Irony–the more successful you are the less likely you are to recognize “unique” ideas, or recognize them as “better.” The reason is these ideas go against “shared assumptions of the prevailing model.”
The key to continued growth then is to create organizational cultures that recognize rather than resist “uniquely better ideas.” Here’s how…
- Be a student, not a critic.
We naturally resist things we don’t understand and can’t control. Don’t criticize, learn.
“The moment we start criticizing is the moment we stop learning, the moment we stop learning is the moment we stop leading”
“I will never criticize something I don’t understand.”
- Keep your eyes and your mind wide open.
Listen to outsiders because outsiders aren’t bound by our assumptions. Don’t say “that won’t work because…”
“The next generation product is almost never discovered by the previous generation.” -Al Ries, Focus
Am I close-minded?
- How do you respond to staff who make suggestions based on what they’ve seen in other organizations?
- When’s the last time your organization embraced a big idea that wasn’t your idea?
- When’s the last time you weren’t sure about it but gave the go-ahead anyway?
“We must pay attention to the frontiers of our ignorance.” -Sam Harris
- Replace HOW? with WOW!
Good ideas die at the HOW? Thus we should strive to “WOW! ideas to life, don’t HOW? them to death.” Nothing is gained if you don’t know what your people are dreaming about.
- Ask the “uniquely better” questions.
- Is this unique?
- What would make it unique?
- Is this better?
- No, is it really better?