Why Consistency Matters

Why Consistency Matters

I’ve come to find that most creatives don’t enjoy consistency.  In fact, most creatives kinda shudder at the word. I think it gives off the feeling of the mundane; we automatically go to thought of doing the same thing over and over again. Consistency has definitely got a bad rap when it comes to creativity and leading teams of creative people. Creative people by nature tend to look for what is new, what is fresh. So to lead a team of creative people, you have to actively and continually change the perception of consistency.

Trust is built with consistencyLincoln Chaffee

The former governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, summed up consistency in an elegant and easy to remember phrase: “Trust is built with consistency”. If we take a moment to pull out of our creative team and think about all of the volunteers it takes to put on a weekend service, the necessity of consistency becomes a bit more obvious. If you were to put yourself in a volunteer’s shoes, imagine coming in to serve on the weekend to find that things are in disarray, computers aren’t ready, equipment is malfunctioning, a musician’s avoim unit isn’t working, etc. If this was the exception and not the norm, there’s probably a lot of forgiveness. But for most churches I’ve visited and seen, unfortunately, this is the norm. Every time a volunteer comes in and things aren’t ready it says a few things to them:

  1. We aren’t prepared and you shouldn’t be either.
  2. We don’t value your time and you shouldn’t value ours.
  3. We don’t take this seriously and you shouldn’t either.

Read any book like Great by Choice, Crucial Conversations, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and you’ll quickly realize the obvious. The success of any team is built on trust. When a volunteer comes in week after week, giving up their time and energy to serve in your department, and everything is ready for them, meaning they have what they need to succeed on the weekend, trust begins to form.  And when you have a team that fully trusts each other, watch out! There’s not a challenge the team can’t conquer.

Conversely, when we are consistent in having things ready for our volunteers it says a few things to them:

  1. We are prepared and you should be too.
  2. We value your time and you should value ours.
  3. We take this seriously and you should too.

Imagine now taking the same ideas of consistency to your creative team or those that you lead. Imagine your coworkers or direct reports knowing what to expect when they come in to work. Imagine a fully prepared team all pushing in the same direction because trust has been established through consistency. As creatives we have to move from understanding consistency as a hindrance and seeing it as one of our best allies.

Lessons on Leadership – Tim Cook

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, recently did an hour long segment on the Charlie Rose show.  Here’s the link. Naturally, since the company just released it’s new flagship products, Tim does a bit of bragging on their products.  But after the first 10 minutes or so, Charlie starts to ask some different questions.  If you sit down and really watch the interview, there’s some great things to be learned.  Tim talks about everything from their executive team and how he likes to put that together, to company mistakes and how those come about.  He also talked about stepping into a legacy that was left from Steve Jobs.  First of all, just sitting and listening to the interview was fascinating to me in that it provided a candid look into Tim and how he thinks and operates.  To be CEO of one of the most successful companies (if not the most successful company) in America, you gotta know your stuff.  Tim obviously does in many areas.  I love learning, so here’s a few things I learned about leadership from part one of Tim’s interview.

  1. Mistakes don’t just happen, there are a lot of lead ups to mistakes.  Charlie asked Tim about the blundered maps application roll out.  Instead of trying to cover up the mistake, Tim blatantly said that they messed up.  He owned up to it almost personally.  And then he alluded to the overarching principle that rarely does a mistake ever just happen as an organization, but rather there are all these indicators that line up that allow the mistake to happen.
  2. Surround yourself with different thinkers.  Charlie asked him about his executive team and how they operate as they have recruited some new faces to the team (beats acquisition, new head of retail, etc).  Tim responded that his preference is to surround himself with people that think differently that he does.  He alludes to the fact that the similar culture has to be there in order for that to work. However, finding people that compliment you as a CEO (or leader) is really important to putting out great work.
  3. Be Yourself.  This one seems obvious enough, but when Charlie started asking questions about filling Steve Job’s shoes, Tim provided some information about the candid conversations he had with Steve before he passed away.  Even Steve recognized the fact that Tim was a different person than he was, but still thought he was the one for the job.  The obvious case and point being that he picked him to replace him as CEO.  But he encouraged him to make decisions not based on “what would Steve do”, but on what Tim thought was right.

Customer Service in Church?

A week back or so I posted a video from Lee Cockerell’s talk about Job Performance in Church.  He also talked about a couple of his books having to relate to Customer Service and valuing guests, customers, members, etc.  Lee’s background includes VP of the Disney World Parks, so I would say he’s got a couple good things to share about Customer Service.  I just finished his book “The Customer Rules“.  First of all, a definite recommend.  My wife and I have small business (Heart Box Weddings), so I enjoyed it from that perspective, but it was interesting to take a few nuggets from what I learned in that book to apply it to the church world.  Now, I understand that church is not a business, but that shouldn’t keep us from learning everything we can about treating people better, valuing people, and in turn making a greater impact on people’s lives.  So here are a few notes I took from the book.  Again, I totally encourage you to grab a copy of it yourself.

  1. “Great Service is not just about what we do; it’s about what we are. You can have the best policies, procedures, and training in the world, but if the people you entrust to carry them out don’t have what it takes – forget about it.”
  2. “Being comes before doing”
  3. “Time and time again, customer service has been shown to be the best way to distinguish an outstanding organization”
  4. “Customer Service encompasses the entire experience, from the moment a person logs on to your website or walks through your front door until the moment they logy off or walk out.”
  5. “You win customers one at a time and lose them a thousand at a time”
  6. Each of your employees need to measure up to the 5 basics: Cleanliness, Personal Appearance, Clear Communication, Thoughtfulness, and Knowledge
  7. “Greet people with eye contact and a friendly smile”
  8. “If your appearance is professional, they will assume that the service you provide is professional.”  Perception is reality.
  9. “Professionals show up- on time and ready to go”
  10. “Customers can sense a lack of passion from a mile away”
  11. “Experts serve their customers quickly”
  12. “Consistency is vital”
  13. “A cheery hello and a sincere good-bye can leave a customer with a memory of a positive experience regardless of what happened in between.”
  14. “Do unto your employees as you would have them do unto your customers”

I just realized that I have pages and pages of notes from this book.  I should stop here and just suggest you check it out for yourself.  Again, people that come to church are NOT customers.  They are members of your family, members of the body of Christ.  But there are some important lessons to be learned in the area of customer service for every church.  How much more important is it that someone finds Jesus than Disney earn another customer.  In the church world, we need to be experts at customer service.  People matter too much.  The cause of Christ matters too much.

Job Performance in Church

A while back I wrote a couple posts talking bout some things I learned from this year’s seeds conference. The content from all the speakers was very insightful. Specifically, Lee Cockerell, knocked it out of the park. You can learn so much from a man who went from a military cook to Executive Vice President of Disney World. While I was re-watching it, another statement jumped out at me. He said “I’ve always wondered should I say that – can churches deal with people who don’t perform?” His answer – you have to. “If you aren’t working on the hard things every week, you are working on the wrong things.”

Passion Tour

The Art of Storytelling in Church Services

This quote from Saving Mr. Banks has hit me to the core.  It’s the perfect expression of why I’m in the business I’m in.  To bring hope to those who have none.  Except for I don’t do it with Imagination, I do it with real life stories:

“George Banks and all he stands for will be saved.  Maybe not in life, but in imagination.  Because that’s what we storytellers do.  We restore order with imagination.  We instill hope again and again and again.”Saving Mr. Banks

In the church, we are in the business of telling stories.  After all, the Bible is a compilation of God-inspired stories.  Jesus taught in stories.  

The problem is that some churches are good at telling stories, and some are bad at telling stories

Let me start with a bit of scripture.  The verse in Revelation 12:11 hits it perfectly.  “They have conquered him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony”.  Other versions say “defeated him” and “triumphed over him”, but they all say by their testimony…. by their story!  This chapter in Revelation says that we overcome, we defeat, we conquer the accuser (the devil), by the blood of the lamb and by our story!  Our stories have power.  I don’t mean this in a weird mystical way, but in a way that should encourage us to become better story tellers.

Whether you are involved with preaching, music, production, art, graphic design, video, we have to become better story tellers.  Here’s the hard part.  You have to get past the idea that telling stories is the preacher’s job, and you have to get past the idea that it’s the video guy’s job.  It’s everyone’s job to tell a story.  Stories are in every worship set.  Stories are in how your people come on to your campus and how they leave changed.  Your piece that you contribute to the service may not be a story in of itself, but part of the larger story of the service.

What blows me away about churches that do services well is that they take people on a journey.  You might not realize you have just been taken through a journey, but good church services take people on a journey.  And here’s a hint, it is not a two party story of worship and speaking.  Good services take people through the basic five parts of a story:

  1. Exposition – the narrative – how things are
  2. Rising action – events that lead to the crisis
  3. Crisis – the crux – the turning point
  4. Falling action – the result of the crisis
  5. Resolution – the answers – the release of tensions or anxiety

And here’s the main problem with most Church services.  We camp out so long in the Resolution that we forget to take people on a journey of our story.  We expect non-believers to come and enjoy the resolution when you haven’t shown them the rest of the story.  Think about it.  How would you enjoy going to the latest Blockbuster hit movie and only watching the ending.  That’s virtually unheard of. Warner Brothers would be out of business if they tried to pull that off.  Yet we replicate that in our church services like it’s the golden standard.

God’s grace and salvation in my life is an end result of a life lived as a sinner (exposition), coming into contact with the good news of Jesus through hard life circumstances (Rising Action), coming to the end of myself (Crisis), Receiving Salvation (Falling Action), and then living out the life He has set for me (Resolution).  We all have stories like this, and I promise, it always fits in the basic 5 parts of story.

It’s also important to point out that the Resolution is often the shortest part of every good story.  Think of it, we spend an hour and a half talking about Cinderella and how she’s being mistreated, yet resolve with a quick happily ever after.  We sit through 9+ hours of Lord of the Rings to watch this conflict of what to do with the ring, yet when the ring is destroyed, we spend only about 10 minutes in resolution.

So next time, when you are planning a service, think through how you are taking your people on a journey.  Let’s spend more time on getting people through the journey to the Crisis and Falling Action, and less time camping out in Resolution.