Monthly Archives: May 2012

What Do You Want?

Effective Decision Making

*As I write this I have assumed that time in prayer and the advice of wise counsel is already a part of your decision making process.  

The best leadership books I’ve read all seem to have an ability to take an idea or principle that has been floating around in my head, unformed and undefined, and transforming it from an intuitive hunch into an executable idea.  The books that have made the biggest impact don’t tend to pass along new information. Instead they have the knack for giving solid form to preexisting but intangible ideas. They provide “handles” that allow you to grasp the idea and really use it.

This past week I read The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, and there were a few moments when the book did just that.

One of those moments was when Drucker was discussing decision making and he introduced and defined the term “Boundary Conditions”

If I understood it correctly boundary conditions are the objectives the decision has to reach for the results of the decision to be considered successful.  Boundary conditions ask the question, “What are the minimum goals this decision has to attain?”   They help to bring clarity to the things that really matter and keep the nonessentials in the background where they belong.

This was especially helpful to me because I am in the middle of a huge decision.  We are in the process of identifying and hiring our next worship pastor at Hulen Street Church.  Throughout the process I have been operating under assumed boundary conditions, goals and objectives that have been floating around in my head but I had never sat down and codified.  As I am in the process of making this decision I thought I would be helpful if I put the objectives for this hire down on paper.

As you read them remember these are the conditions that allow the decision maker to stay focused on the critical criteria that should direct the decision.  As I began to put these conditions down on paper I had to resist the temptation to get “granular” by defining every little desire I have and responsibility I want this new staff member to fulfill.While there are other responsibilities I would like our new worship pastor to be able and willing to do (ie. facilities management, youth worship, and general administration) they are not the critical responsibilities that will have the greatest impact on the church.  That being the case these are the criteria (from most important to least) I am using to focus my thinking in the decision making process.   These are the things we have to have, the rest (if we can get them) are just gravy.

4 Boundary Conditions for the Worship Pastor at Hulen Street Church

We are seeking to hire a Worship Pastor…

…who exhibits a greater desire to worship God and pastor people than to be on a platform.

…that has a high value of excellence and can establish, maintain, and hold others accountable to those same standards.

…who has the musical ability to continuously improve the musicianship of our band through coaching and training.

…who has the knowledge (or the willingness to gain the knowledge needed) to enhance the physical worship environment through media and technology.

Not only do boundary conditions help to define the desired result of the decision, but they are also useful in the information gathering portion of the decision making process.   For instance, if you were trying to decide who to hire or which direction to go you could use the boundary conditions to formulate 4-5 different questions or hypothetical situations that would come at each condition from a different angle.  Questions crafted from boundary conditions, and the answers they provide, are much more able to inform your decision

Are you facing a decision?  Chance are you already have a set of boundary conditions floating around in your head, but have you taken the 30 minutes needed to sit down to define them and refine them?  When you consider the months or even years that you will have to live with your decision, 30 minutes doesn’t see too much to give to help make it a good one.

New Shoes

*From the Archive: I wrote this a couple of years ago but at the time didn’t have way to share it other than through Facebook “notes” 

For the majority of my adult life I have gotten by with just two pairs of shoes. A pair of “sneakers” for fun/play and a pair of brown leather hiking boots for everything else. It has only been within the past few years that I have started to expand my footwear collection. Shoes just weren’t that important to me.

Until I started running.

When I first took up running I was wearing a pair of off the shelf Nikes which were chosen solely on the way they looked. Style always trumped other qualities, like say…comfort. After a few minutes my knees were hurting, my ankles were aching, and my arches were on the verge of an outright rebellion. At the time my goal was to run a mile without stopping or dying. But the pain threatened to kill even that modest dream.

At about the same time I was becoming aware that all shoes were not created equal (nor were they all created by Nike). Sensing that my shoes may have been my problem I decided to pay a visit to a local running store to be measured, evaluated and fitted into a shoe that was engineered for my particular foot type and stride. Within minutes my stride had been observed, my arch had been studied, and my foot and been measured in great detail.

The shoe specialist disappeared with his calculation in hand, and a few minutes later he emerged from the back room with a stack of shoe boxes six high. Turns out I need what is called a stability shoe, because apparently I am unstable (insert joke here). The first few shoes didn’t do much for me, but then he pulled out the Asics Kayano.

My foot didn’t slip into the shoe as much as the shoe seemed to reach up and wrap itself perfectly around my foot. It was like he had pulled down two fluffy white clouds, soft and weightless, and wrapped them around my feet. I felt like I was hovering just a couple of millimeters off the floor.

That was five years, two marathons, and dozens of Asics ago, but I still get that same intoxicating feeling whenever I lace up a new pair of shoes. I feel like I could run for hours without stopping, but within 7 minutes of the inaugural run disappointment sets in when I realize, once again, that no matter how expensive they are or how advanced they have become I still have to run. It’s still up to me to drive my foot into the ground and propel myself forward. The shoe can’t do it for me.This same phenomenon follows me into my faith. Over the years I have purchased Christian books, studied theological resources, and opened blank journals hoping each time that this will be the one thing that will jumps start the consistent inconsistency of my spiritual life. But I am soon met withthe same realization that a book, resource, or journal, no matter how good, doesn’t have the ability to compel me to exercise a little spiritual discipline in my life. They can teach me, they can motivate me, and they can inspire me, but they cannot make me. It still up to me to open my bible and bend my knee.Every morning my cell phone announces the beginning of another day by rattling across the nightstand. In that moment I face a decision. I can either rollout of bed or to roll back under the covers. By nature I tend to drift toward the path of least resistance until the Holy Spirit whispers for the millionth time, “…I beat my body and make it my slave.” There are days I pull the covers up and tell Paul to mind his own business, but most days I listen to him and force myself to get up and run, both physically and spiritually.At the end of the “run” I have once again learned lesson that the benefit always outweighs the effort. It is a recurring lesson because it seems that as soon as I learn it…I immediately begin to unlearn it. And by the time the cell phone begins its regular morning dance across the nightstand I have lost it completely. But thankfully the Spirit patiently whispers again, “…I beat my body and make it my slave.