Tag Archives: culture

5 Friday Faves – Community Helpers, Leadership Scoreboard, Better Together Cultures, Networks, and Bread

September 1st and it feels like Fall. This time of year always stirs the possibility of new beginnings. It’s my favorite time of the year.

Here are this week’s faves:

1) Community Helpers: We are currently in the long aftermath of flooding in the US and other parts of the world. Photo Credit: JSC Features, NASA

What a wonder to see neighbors helping neighbors…even among the poorest of the poor.  Rachel Stern describes the impact of this beautiful phenomenon below:

Natalie Simpson, chair of the Department of Operations Management and Strategy in the School of Management, says there really is no good evacuation plan when it comes to major disasters in densely populated areas. Simpson, who studies on-the-ground first-response and disaster preparedness, says the reality is that when a disaster gets beyond a certain size, there will never be enough professional help. It will take everybody…

“We’ve already gotten remarkably stronger at channeling people’s individual efforts to support the larger response,” Simpson says. “This is very evident right now as we watch fleets of boats continue to save people in Houston.

“When it comes to disaster preparedness, we are experiencing a dawning of awareness. Everyone must solve large problems together. The key is motivating and empowering everybody to feel confident enough to start solving what little part of this big, messy thing they can on their own.”

Neighbor Helping Neighbor Is Best Practice in Large Disasters – Rachel Stern

YouTube Video – Fred Rogers – Look For the Helpers

2) Leadership Scorecard – If we’re honest, we can be pretty analytical and judgmental when it comes to our leaders’ character and performance. I’m no fan of scorecards, but Frank Sonnenberg has developed one that we would be wise to use. Not just on our leaders – absolutely not – but on ourselves as well.Photo Credit:  Frank Sonnenberg

The only leader I know who could ace this scorecard would be Jesus. However, it shows areas we might have blind spots in and in Sonnenberg’s article he goes into detail about the various components of being an effective emotionally intelligent leader. Worth a look, for sure. Any of these areas you struggle in? Please also share (in the Comments below) any examples of leaders you have experienced who demonstrate this sort of excellence.

Leadership Scorecard – Frank Sonnenberg – Linkedin

3) Better Together Cultures – When we lived in North Africa, I had the privilege of working with a great group of parents who founded a parent-teacher organization for our children’s school. It was a relatively new concept there. Well, in a positive sense. We determined to keep it from being an arena for airing complaints but rather a movement for good in our school. For families, staff, and the community around us. We named our organization Better Together.I think I learned at an early age, and beginning with my mom, that so much more can be accomplished in an environment of inclusion where people genuinely care for and trust each other. Serving goes deeper and celebrating comes naturally. Nurturing a culture of better together at work or in any organization is worth the effort and the risk.

[Search inside DebMillswriter for “Better Together” and you’ll see my fascination and concern/hopefulness in the topic.]

4) Networks – A lot of my faves this week seem wrapped around groups of people. Organizational psychologist, and all-round interesting guy, Adam Grant has posted an encouraging piece on networks – To Build a Great Network You Don’t Have to Be a Great Networker.

Photo Credit: Adam Grant

Here is Grant’s wisdom on the subject:

“…many people view networking as the path to accomplishment, forgetting that accomplishments make it easier to network.

When you create something exciting, you don’t have to rely on charisma or name-drop mutual acquaintances to get your foot in the door. The door opens to you. Sponsors, mentors, investors, and collaborators gravitate toward people who demonstrate potential, and a portfolio is a stronger signal than a promise.

It’s possible to develop a network by becoming the kind of person who never eats alone, who wins friends and influences people. But introverts rejoice: there’s another way. You can become the kind of person who invests time in doing excellent work and sharing your knowledge with others.Adam Grant

He has much more to say on networks along with fascinating stories. Read more here.

5) Bread – Can we just take a minute to sing the praises of bread? There may be some countries in the world where bread isn’t a staple, but I’m glad to have lived places where it is. In fact, everywhere I have ever been, it is a staple. From Southern biscuits (best eaten with gravy) and cornbread, Mexican corn tortillas, Egyptian baladi pocket bread, Ethiopian sour-dough injera, British seeded breads, French croissants and baguettes,  Tunisian flatbread, and Moroccan khboz and msemen…and I could go on. Don’t you just love the pull and chew in bread.

Ironically, bread isn’t a part of my diet currently…BUT it’s a part of every food memory I have associated with happy times with family and friends, here and overseas. So…a new grocery store with a European bakery opened here recently. Lidl‘s bread loveliness is with us. When bread comes back into my diet, it will come from there…or my daughter’s bread machine.

Those are my Friday Faves. How about yours? It’s raining out there in our “neck of the woods”. Be safe and be kind to each other…we never know what is really going on in each other’s lives.

Bonuses:

The Impact of Hurricane Harvey Compared to Your State – Twenty-Two Words

The Largest Religious Groups in Every County Across the U.S. – DidYouKnowFacts?

5 Friday Faves – St. Patrick’s Day, Beauty and the Beast Guitar Arrangement, Tenacity, Manliness, and Embracing the Life You Have

Happy Friday! Hope this week was kind to you. Here are my 5 most favorite finds of the week for you.

1) St. Patrick’s DayLá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Wearing green. Corned beef and cabbage…and my family background is Scottish. Still love celebrating this day a bit. Photo Credit: Flickr

Also planning to watch the David Kidd documentary Patrick. A friend who heard David Kidd speak recently shared the following with me via email this morning – notes from his talk on the real Patrick (legends removed):

  • He was born in 396 AD and died in 471 AD.
  • Patrick was a man brought up on a Romano British Christian home somewhere in southwest Britain (his father was a deacon and grandfather a priest).
  • He was kidnapped at 16 (he said he didn’t really know God at that time), trafficked, and taken to the West Coast of Ireland where he worked as a shepherd and learned Irish.
  • As a slave, Patrick came to see the hand of God in his troubles. God broke through his defenses, and Patrick faced his unbelief and pride. Later he described how he turned to God whom he realized had been watching over him all the time. He became aware of God’s protection, and he discovered that God loved him as a father loves his son.
  • Before this, he had ‘sinned’ – something that ‘lasted an hour’ and he believed that God punished him.
  • God spoke to him in a dream about a ship to take him home. At 22, he managed to escape slavery.
  • At home, he had another dream of the people in Ireland calling him back.
  • He was obedient to the Spirit and went back to West Ireland (the ends of the earth at that time).
  • He was beaten, harassed by thieves and robbers, admonished by his British superiors, but his work grew and he remained humble.
  • He protested against injustice, esteemed women highly, and identified himself as Irish.
  • His legacy was a vibrant Christianity which lasted hundreds of years while Britain and Europe fell into the Dark Ages.

What we can do to honor Patrick’s memory?

  • The Past: Remember a humble man who had been mistreated, heard from God, obeyed, loved his enemies, lived his life for Jesus, and made a significant difference – not just in Ireland, but much of Europe.
  • The Present: Use Patrick’s life to help people focus on what really matters.
  • The Future: Be as faithful as Patrick and live for Jesus and His Kingdom – making a difference in this world with fruit that lasts.

2) Beauty and the Beast Guitar Arrangement – Yesterday the live action Disney film Beauty and the Beast debuted in the US. Articles abound about the production – its beauty and grand scenes. Other articles raise the question of whether it is as family-friendly as the Disney animated classic by the same name. Everyone will have to decide for themselves about whether to watch this film and how often. One very easy decision would be watching the just-released classical guitar arrangement by Nathan Mills (Beyond the Guitar).

It is beautiful, even with less-grand scenes, and its own Belle and wee beast. It is definitely family-friendly and the music is lovely. Enjoy!

3) TenacityFirst Round posted the fascinating story – Lessons in Tenacity – of how entrepreneur Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare, built his business. He saw tenacity at work in the growing and thriving of his location technology company.

Tenacity is that characteristic in a person or group that keeps her/them moving forward – persistence, resolve, determination.Photo Credit: Pixabay

Read the article for examples Crowley gives, and here’s his illuminating summary:

Tenacity has many manifestations for founders and their startups. At the beginning, it’s often deeply tied to identity. Giving up one’s idea feels like giving up on oneself. After hitting early milestones, tenacity is confidence. But it’s best tempered with humility, so as to avoid flying too high on early wins. As a company scales, tenacity is focus. There will be accompanying growing pains as customers sign up, headcount grows and the market responds. Anchor and orient yourself by asking: what is this supposed to be when it grows up? When the going gets tough, tenacity is grit. Don’t look externally to others to build what you need — you’ll be waiting longer than you want. Do it yourself. Lastly, tenacity is culture and a private truth. Tenacity at scale will both involve and elude people. What guides the team isn’t always accurately reflected in the public’s perception. An informed, committed team around you is the best way to drown out the noise and to march toward achieving your biggest goals.

“These different facets of tenacity are important insofar as invoking them keeps your legs moving and charging forward. Growing a company is an impossibly hard endeavor — many wouldn’t start if they knew just how difficult it is,” Crowley says. “But the early stories of most successful companies are often those in which no one thought it could be done. In fact, if you asked them, those founders probably didn’t know if they could do it either. But if you can get there — if you stick to what you set out to do — it can put you in an amazingly powerful and defensible position.

4) Manliness – We should affirm, empower, and let loose women to fulfill their callings, giftings, and places in the world. Not being sexist, the same is true for men, of course. That’s why I appreciate the website/podcast the Art of ManlinessThe Art of Manliness aims to encourage our readers to be better husbands, fathers, brothers, citizens — a new generation of great men (the About page).

I don’t go with everything on this website but some of the content is fascinating and extremely helpful. I hope never to have to jump from a speeding car but knowing it’s possible to walk away from such a situation made me interested in reading about it.

Photo Credit: Art of Manliness

This information isn’t just for men, but some of the entries are male-specific. We women write volumes about how to be “better women”. I’m glad there are men (and women) are writing for men in this way.

10 Tests, Exercises, and games to Heighten Your Senses and Situational Awareness – Brett & Kate McKay – Art of Manliness

5) Embracing the Life You Have – We have all experienced losses. We grieve…and grieve again. As time goes by, the grief changes, but that doesn’t mean it has to change us. At least not in an unhealthy way. John Piper speaks about this so eloquently and tenderly:

Embrace the Life God Has Given You

Piper: “Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”

Posted by Desiring God on Saturday, March 11, 2017

I have in mind two kinds of losses: those who had something precious and lost it, and those who hoped for something precious and never had it. It works both ways. Sixty years go by, and forty years on you think, “I’ve come to terms with that,” and then one morning it breaks over you, and you weep about a 40-year old loss, or a 40-year “never have,” and my counsel is, yes, go ahead, embrace that moment. Weep.

But then, say to your weeping after a season, “No. You will not define me, sorrow, because my God has said, ‘No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Psalm 84:11). Therefore, even though it was good in one sense, and I miss it in one sense, I trust my God, and he has not withheld anything that is good for me.” Yes, let there be weeping in those seasons — feel the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life he’s given you. – John Piper

As one who struggles with waves of grief out of nowhere…thank you, Dr. Piper.

Principal Financial Group has been running a series of commercials with the theme Life Doesn’t Always Go According to Plan. Three of their commercials follow. Sweet messaging…

Be gentle with yourself and each other. Serve somebody, and be safe out there. [Oh, and please share in Comments your favorites of the week. Thanks!]

Bonuses

Who are the Refugees? Which are their Host Countries? Take a Guess.

Who hosts the most refugees?

10 countries host 50% of the world's refugees. These countries are hosting the most.

Posted by Al Jazeera English on Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Granny Pod – Ingenious and honoring idea.

What do you think of these Granny Pods?

Posted by Earthables on Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mom Truths

Mom Truths: Why moms are so tired

"You know what we do all day? EVERYTHING." Thanks, Cat & Nat, for sharing this #MomTruth Friday with us! More: http://on.today.com/2m2cNCD

Posted by Today Show on Friday, March 3, 2017

5 Friday Faves – Pokemon Guitar Medley, Dr. Tony Evans on Race, Burgess Owens on Liberalism, Coconut Cake, and Back to School

Blog - Friday Faves

Friday again. It’s been a hot weather week here as we move to the end of July. How the summer flies by! I get my walks in early and try to get work done before the afternoon dulls my brain. For those of you who have long workdays with some out in this heat, the weekend is almost here. My Friday Faves this week are:

1) Pokémon Guitar Medley – For me, Pokémon stirs up old memories of my boys hunkered down playing it on the old Gameboy system. The melodies emitted from the game had no emotional attachment for me; just signaled their playing nearby.  Blog - Pokemon -GameboyPhoto Credit: YouTube

Fast-forward a couple of decades to a new phone app – Pokémon Go. Genius! Nostalgia reigns. This version of the game weds the old with the new – social gaming and a quasi-outdoor-adventure. Even in our quiet old neighborhood, there are now young folks walking around with their phones out like flashlights (reminds me of the old guys on the beach waving their metal detectors back and forth). Blog - Pokemon Go - timesfreepressPhoto Credit: Times Free Press

This phenomenon has definitely stirred up sweet memories for guitarist Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar. He’s arranged a melody of some of those old tinkly electronic tunes from childhood of playing Pokémon. Whether you ever played the game, you will enjoy the music (hard to believe the beauty those composers instilled into the gaming experience for the kids who played back then).

2) Dr. Tony Evans on Race – A Biblical Response on Race – You already know I love radio.  Well, Tony Evans has been a go-to for me for 30 years. His program, The Alternative, and his preaching, speaking, and writing are just as fresh and relevant today as ever.Blog - Tony EvansPhoto Credit: Tony Evans

This past Sunday he preached on Race, Culture, and the Biblical Response. His message is to the church, but anyone could benefit from what he has to say on these issues. So timely also as our nation is going through an intensified examination of our own thinking and actions in this. Evans used the text of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, crossing culture and class, demonstrating the love of God.

“It’s real easy in here….we can all get along…in here. What happens when you go out and you have to face your own race? What happens when your biblical view is not the popular view? What happens when you’re rejected for not being black enough, white enough….?  When you have to take that stand responsibly, kindly, in love, but clearly. When you hear messages on love and unity….it’s good…inside the House. What God is looking for are some serious Christians on this issue who start biblically and spiritually and work it down racially, socially, and culturally. You do not start with your culture and work it up. You start with the Word and the authority of your faith and work it in. May God help us to do our part locally, personally, in our families, and through our influence, to bring people to a spiritual biblical approach to the issue of race, culture, and class so at least we can model, before the world, biblical solutions to a society in chaos.” – Tony Evans

3) Burgess Owens on Liberalism – We are in the political season of party conventions and a presidential election. So much rhetoric. So many promises. So much finger-pointing and blame-shifting. Over the course of my life, I’ve changed political parties as they have changed ideologies. This election is a tough one for some of us…

I love to discover unusual heroes who are rarely found in popular media. Star Parker is one of these – a politically conservative black woman who also changed her thinking over the course of her life. She was the impetus for me to search for other conservative thinkers who, because of their race or beliefs, have to have a deeper sort of courage to give voice to their ideas. This week, I discovered Superbowl Champion Burgess Owens.  You can see him speak about persistence in this YouTube video on “the 13th season”. He is the author of Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps He writes about the first 100 year, post-slavery, history of entrepreneurial, faith- and family-centered American blacks. He also writes about the founding of the NAACP by mostly white, Marxist social engineers, and that influence on African-American thinking and culture. Blog - Book - Liberalism - Burgess OwensPhoto Credit: Simon & Schuster

I have not read the book yet, so this is not a recommendation of the book as much as of the author. After hearing him speak during an interview (as part of his book tour), I was struck by this “other side” of what we see in the news media. His thinking is compelling.  In my 20s, I worked in a huge inner-city hospital in Atlanta (wrote about it here). It was then that my thinking politically began to change. I loved our patients and families so much, and the poverty that encased them seemed impenetrable. It was then I began to see that throwing money at poverty doesn’t make it go away. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away either. My nursing friends and I would have deep and anguished conversations about the tangled mess of poverty, welfare, class, race, and politics. I am thankful for how those years and relationships changed my thinking. Still have so much to learn.Debbie & Grady nurse buddy

I welcome your recommendation of other voices…these kinds of conversations could affect real and crucial change…beyond any political party or government power.

4) Three Day Coconut Cake – OK…something a little lighter. My mom-in-law is an amazing cook. She also knows I love coconut. We had a huge family gathering this past week to celebrate the newest addition to our family. She always makes strawberry pretzel salad which is top of the list of our family favorites. For me (and a handful of others who also like coconut), she made this refrigerator coconut cake. It’s practically a food group all by itself. Enjoy. Here’s the recipe.

Blog - Friday Faves - Coconut Cake - chindeepPhoto Credit: ChinDeep

5) Back to School – During the hottest days of summer, a Fall breeze blows through our favorite stores. Back to school supplies and cool kids’ clothes pop up everywhere. I have always loved the smell of pencils and paper. However, I never loved the long hours of school that boxed in our children to spend evenings separated from us and each other with hours and hours of homework. Sorry, wonderful teacher friends of mine. Anyway, seeing school supplies in the stores this week was fun…and also a reminder of the flight of time. Summer slow down.Blog - Back to School Supplies - friday Faves

I always love to hear about your favorite finds of the week. Please comment below. Have a safe and sweet weekend!

5 Friday Faves – Winter in the Middle East, Culture, Parenting, Community, and Top Blogs

Blog - Friday FavesWow! What a week! This is a rare experience for me to be glad it’s Friday. I usually love all the days and want them to slow down…this was a week that’s good to be done. How was your week?

My 5 favorites finds include one less favorite, more “I don’t want to forget” – that being #1:

1) Winter in Middle East – Our news cycle and attention spans are so short that we might forget refugee camps…especially in winter. I am so thankful for agencies (like Baptist Global Response) that don’t forget it. Far from it, they are there, feeling the cold these refugees feel and stretching resources to cover these without homes that keep out the winter. Let’s not forget…and extend help as well.Blog - Winter in the Middle east - ibtimesPhoto Credit: International Business NewsBlog - Winter in the Middle East - thetakeawayPhoto Credit: thetakeaway.orgBlog - Winter in the Middle east - old man - the national aePhoto Credit: The National

2) Culture – Trevin Wax writes this week about cultural commentary. As we both live in a changing culture and examine our place within that culture, we adjust. Not our beliefs, necessarily, or our viewpoints, but maybe how we voice them. Trevin does a great job in expounding on how we look at culture – not as “good” or “bad” or “safe” or “unsafe” – but as understanding and discerning co-inhabitants of that culture. Something called “cultural literacy”.

word with dice on white background - culture

Photo Credit: The Gospel Coalition

“From Francis Schaeffer in the 1960’s, to C. S. Lewis in the 1940’s, to G. K. Chesterton in the 1920’s, we stand in a long line of people who have identified the narratives on display in cultural artifacts of their day, and then spoke to those longings by putting them in light of the gospel. John Stott called this “double listening” – listening to God’s Word and to the people in God’s world, so that we can be effective witnesses to the kingdom.” – Trevin Wax

3) Parenting – Parenting books and blogs abound to influence our journey through our children’s growing-up. One of my favorite books on parenting came out after our kids were already grown but I love it and still recommend it: Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old by Joseph & Claudia Worrell Allen. Cathy Gulli’s article on parenting was a fascinating discovery for me this week. She writes on The Collapse of Parenting – Why It’s Time for Parents to Grow Up. Her take on current trends in parenting focuses less on empowering the child and more on the parent actually being the guide, mentor, and nurturing authority. I didn’t agree with everything, but it was refreshing to read. [It actually went viral with over a million reads so far.] The image below is NOT from her article but it came to mind because of her article.Blog - Age-appropriate tasks for childrenPhoto Credit: Flanders Family

4) Community – I’ve written about community many times, but this was one of those weeks where the value of community came to bear in a hard place. It’s hard to imagine those who lead more solitary lives – without church, family, or work community – especially when a life-altering crisis occurs. Luke writes about the early church so beautifully in his Acts of the Apostles. Those early believers endured great persecution with joy because of God-infused community. What’s your experience of community these days? Showing up for work, attending church, social media brushes with family don’t get us to community. It’s a dig deep, being there, full embrace of those in your circle with a door wide open to others just on the outside, looking in. So thankful this week for community.Blog - Community - It Is Well - Beth Taylor FacebookPhoto Credit: Beth Taylor

5) Top Blogs – There are all sorts of lists on the blogosphere these days about most read/visited blogs of last year. This list by Leslie Leyland Fields is my favorite find of this sort this week.  What a life this woman leads in the coastal fishing communities of Alaska! Blog - Friday faves - Leslie Leyland FieldsWhat lists do you recommend? Help us find them, via the comments below.

Bonus: Sweet Dance Performance by the Revere Dance Studio – Lovely Girls on Their Feet and in Their Wheelchairs

Monday Morning Moment – Mission Drift – 12 Quotes on Being True to Our Mission

  Blog - Mission DriftPhoto Credit: Peter K. Greer, President & CEO of Hope International

[From the Archives]

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-14, 16

Peter Greer and Chris Horst (with Anna Haggard) wrote an incredible little book entitled Mission Drift. The book’s byline is “The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches”. I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who has invested their lives in a faith-based organization, or Christ-centered business, or Christian charity. In fact, if you haven’t already read it, and you’re a Christ-follower, please make it a priority.

Mission drift is the slow and insidious shift away from the original mission, purpose, and identity of an organization. Greer and Horst have done extensive research on organizations who have either remained “mission true” or have fallen sadly away from their mission. The stories are fascinating and compelling. They lay a foundation that can help all of us prevent mission drift in our own lives and in our spheres of influence.

12 quotes from the book follow. These are just to whet your appetite. Mission Drift is an easy read and the truths resonate with our desire to be faithful and true stewards.

“Mission Drift…is pervasive and affects faith-based organizations of all varieties – nonprofits, churches, denominations, businesses, foundations, and schools. ..be optimistic…that drift is not inevitable.” (pp. 19, 22)

Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul…To remain Mission True is to adapt and grow, so long as that adaptation and growth does not alter the core identity.” (p. 27)

Mission True organizations know who they are and actively safeguard, reinforce, and celebrate their DNA. Leaders constantly push toward higher levels of clarity about their mission and even more intentionality about protecting it.” (p. 51)

Leaders often first ask what, then move to how, and finally transition to why. ..Great innovators…start with why. The ordering really matters. Everything flows from why. Not only does it motivate others to join you, it also guides what you do – and often more important – what you don’t do.” (pp. 71-72)

The gravitational pull of secularism is felt perhaps most acutely in hiring…Mission True leaders hire carefully, intentionally, and prayerfully. They approach each hiring decision seriously, recognizing that each staff member represents the mission of the organization. ” (pp. 103, 107)

“Mission True organizations recruit and engage Mission True donors.” (p. 115)

You are what you measure…Our highest goal is to remain faithful to our Christ-centered identity and mission. Because of our identity, we must pursue excellence. Metrics can be self-serving. We need to be clear why we pursue them. Seeing God for who He is clarifies our role: We are stewards. Metrics help us to remain accountable for the work that God has placed in our hands.”  (pp. 131, 133, 136)

“Slapping an ichthus (the Christian fish symbol of the early church) on product packaging does not mean it honors God. Christian shoddy is still shoddy. In Mission True organizations, quality must be nonnegotiable.” (p. 139)

“‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’  Mission True organizations get this. They focus on the little things. They understand how important practices and norms are to the living and breathing cultures of their organizations. The small decision each and every day may seem inconsequential, perhaps even trivial, but these little things protect against Mission Drift…Beyond policies, Mission True organizations recognize that culture is composed of all the ‘little things’.” (pp. 148-149, 155)

“Clear language reinforces identity and also leads to accountability. Being clear with your plans and identity enables people to keep you on mission. If you regularly talk about who you are, you invite scrutiny and accountability. Publicly proclaiming who you are strengthens your identity and empowers people to point out inconsistencies.” (p. 163)

“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” – Luke 12:8-9

“For organizations who desire to protect against Mission Drift, one of the most powerful anchors is the local church…Wisdom lies in anchoring ourselves to the church as the church is anchored to Christ. Across time and culture and trends, the church remains.” (pp. 167, 173)

“Courageous Mission True leaders…have stood unwaveringly upon the Truth of the Gospel. In all areas, they have demonstrated intentionality and clarity in retaining Christian distinctiveness. They are committed to Christ, first and foremost.” (pp. 180-181)

********************************************************************

One organization very dear to me keeps its mission before its personnel and donors in regular, consistent, creative and winsome ways. We know what we are about. There is never a doubt what we’re to be about. What safeguards does that beloved faith-based organization of yours have in place to hold back mission drift?

Peter K. Greer Blog

Chris Horst Blog

The Subtle Danger of Mission Drift

Organizational Culture – 5 Questions – Notes on a Podcast with Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger

Blog - 5 Leadership Questions - Organizational CultureMy latest favorite podcast (one of my 5 Friday Faves last week) was this conversation between Barnabas Piper (co-host), Eric Geiger, and Todd Adkins (co-host). On Lifeway’s 5 Leadership Questions, they tackled the topic of creating a healthy organizational culture.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-05-18 23:11:32Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.comBlog - eric Geiger - 5 Leadership QuestionsBlog - Todd Adkins - 5 Leadership Questions

In the podcast, they ask and answer 5 questions about organizational culture. I took notes. Listen to the podcast if you can, but if you don’t, read on. These guys have captured something we all need to consider in thinking about our workplaces and have our values speak to how healthy we are…or are not.

1) What is an organizational culture? – Culture is defined as those values or beliefs that undergird who we are and what we’re about in our organization. Culture is “everything beneath the surface that drives behavior”. Whether we are in tune to our work culture or not, we share values as a group and those values drive our behavior. There are two types of values within a culture – aspirational and actual. Aspirational values – what’s on the wall. Actual values – what takes place in the hall. Values are so embedded in culture that we take them for granted. They include philosophies and strategies and can be both good and bad for the health of our organization. What is the personality of your organization?  Psychologist Alfred Adler wrote, in 1920s, that to be healthy, three things need to be in alignment: 1) how you perceive yourself, 2) how others perceive you, and 3) how you want to be perceived. Apply that to your organization: does who you say you are match with who you actually are? This will give you a diagnosis of how healthy your organization is…if you’re willing to take a hard, honest look. How did you get the culture you have?Piper, Adkins, and Geiger then talked about how the leader of an organization will shape culture. Leaders shape culture and after three years, it will be the culture they have shaped.  If leaders don’t intentionally shape the culture, it will evolve on its own [somewhat in reaction to that leader – my take on that].

2) What are the consequences if you don’t build and shape a culture (if you let it passively happen)? “If you don’t actively cultivate the culture, whoever has the loudest voice or the clearest vision wins.” There is formal and informal authority as well as formal and informal influence with impact on an organization’s culture.  The informal influence/authority of a long-time trusted employee is important and should be respected. Culture, healthy or unhealthy, can “trump” a new leader’s ideas or strategy. “A healthy culture won’t tolerate an unwise move or won’t tolerate someone being treated inappropriately. A healthy staff culture will call people out – “We don’t talk to people that way here/we don’t treat people that way here. That’s sacred for us here.” Wise leaders will give the culture its voice as new, healthier culture is built.

3) What is the starting point for a leader to create culture? 1) Assess the culture of your organization. “It’s a mistake to say everything is broken, ruined, messed-up in this culture and we need to rebuild a whole new culture. You’re wrong. There are things that are affirmable in that culture.” [Eric Geiger on not loathing the culture you lead]  2) Find what is affirmable in your culture and affirm them. 3) Then deal with what is not present that needs to be. “For every 2 actual values, you can have one aspirational value.” If you are a new leader of an organization, resist the temptation to shake it down entirely and rebuild the culture reflecting your values. “Actual values are the foundation upon which you build culture. Affirm over and over. Then work to implement [that other value that’s only present in aspiration form].”

Blog - Organizational CUlture - Lencioni book Silos, Politics & Turf Wars

Everybody needs to read Lencioni’s Politics, Silos, Turf Wars. “What is Bucket 1? – core DNA – values we do not change. Don’t even ask. Bucket 2? – Maybe. Wasn’t our Core DNA but goes against what we want. Bucket 3? – Do whatever you want.” The core values of a culture are those that are bedrock for your organization to continue. “Ask what of your culture is not going to change. When those things come up, address them immediately. What is counter-culture? Kill them. [Examine] what we pay attention to; how we react to crisis; the role models that we raise up; the stories we tell; the heroes we create.” Plato once said: “What is celebrated is cultivated.”  You are able to influence culture by telling new stories. What does your culture celebrate? What do you see that kills culture?

4) What are culture-killers in an organization that need to be abolished? What are signs of culture that needs to be celebrated? What are the culture killers not to be tolerated?A culture-killer would be the continued allowance of violative behavior of those values. If among a staff team the cultural value is we treat each other with respect; we’re a family; we do ministry together – and you have a lone ranger who gets promoted?…that’s a culture-killer.” Anything that violates the organization’s culture is a no-go. Disrespect. Passive-Aggressive behavior. Lying. You can’t tolerate such things. Then what in culture should be celebrated? As team members exhibit organizational values in their work and demeanor, you hold them up for everyone to celebrate. “Point out and celebrate when your culture’s values are fleshed out. Give a story; mention the value; celebrate a specific value of the organization lived out; from each campus/department. Remind each other that all these things are going on in different places/departments and the impact we’re having together.”

5) What does it look like to hire and fire strategically to create the kind of culture an organization needs. People create culture.  1) Hire on the values. Look for displayed commitment to the values before the person is on the team. You ask questions. Look for history. You see if they have to sacrifice something to be on your team. Do they have to become someone they’re not to be a part of the team? 2) Removing people – a strong culture is going to make it very uncomfortable for someone to stay who doesn’t have the same values. They will self-select out of a culture not like them. They’re saying, “This isn’t really me.” The organization says, “Here’s who we are.” “If they’re not going to help the culture stay healthy, you don’t want them on that team. You want them to be a fish out of water if this isn’t the culture for them. It’s about fit not worth. There is a culture for them somewhere that matches their values.”

I love these guys – Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger. This podcast was very timely in my own cultural experience. I am watching an organization dear to me go through a painful downsizing – through a voluntary retirement incentive to start. This organization (both aspirationally and actually) values longevity, experience, perseverance, and history. You can imagine the struggle within of how to come to grips with this direction – necessary but heart-wrenching for them as an organization. Organizational culture is important to understand. It is how we help our culture through a crisis to get back to a healthy place. Culture cannot be disregarded.

Don’t Loathe the Culture You Lead by Eric Geiger

How Not to Loathe the Culture You Are Leading – Eric Geiger

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors by Patrick Lencioni

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars – PDF – Executive Book Summaries

SlideShare – Organization Culture and Climate

Organizational Structure and Culture – Principles of Management – New Charter University

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst

Photo Credits: 5 Leadership Questions Header. Barnabas Piper, Eric Geiger, and Todd Adkins

 

5 Friday Faves – One Podcast on Organizational Culture, 3 Great Reads (Self-Medicating, Hard Decisions, Affliction) & a Sing-along

Blog - Friday Faves

1) A Podcast – 5 Leadership Questions about Building a Great Organizational Culture – This is a great conversation between Barnabas Piper, Todd Adkins, and Eric Geiger on organizational culture. They define culture as “shared values beneath the surface that drive behavior”. Aspirational values (what takes place on the wall) are distinguished from actual values (what takes place in the hall). What is your workplace culture? “We don’t treat people like that here”. Like what? What culture do you have or hope to build?Blog - Organizational Culture - slideshare.netPhoto Credit: Slideshare.net

Also see Organizational Culture and Climate – SlideShare.

2) On Self-Medication5 Socially Acceptable Ways Church Leaders Self-Medicate  – Carey Nieuwhof, a Canadian pastor and thinker on leadership, writes about how leaders can get caught up in “socially acceptable” self-medicating as a way to manage their stress. Important read for anyone in leadership.Blog - Self-medicating with Carey NieuwhofPhoto Credit: CareyNieuwhof.com

3) On Hard DecisionsBuilding the Courage to Make Changes  by Dr. Danita Johnson Hughes. Quick read on steps in making difficult workplace decisions. I have dear friends going through a tough downsizing which has to happen for their organization to survive. It took huge courage, faith, and forward-thinking on the part of the leaders to make that hard decision. .A Bible study along these lines can be found in a Slideshare on the Gospel of Mark (chapter 14).Blog - hard Decisions

Photo Credit: GreatLeadersServe.com – also a good resource.

4) On Affliction in the Lives of 3 Men – The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent, Book 2) by John Piper. The Swans Are Not Silent series by John Piper is a collection of biographies, grouped in such a way as to point to a particular character, situation, or gift from God. This volume is particularly fascinating to me because of how these men demonstrate the nearness of God in lives torn by trouble.

Blog - The Hidden Smile of God - John Piper on Affliction

Photo Credit: DesiringGod.org

5) A Sing-Along – YouTube videos of classic songs done in a bit different way. Enjoy and have a restful weekend.

YouTube Video – I Will Follow Him with André Rieu

YouTube Video – U.S. Navy Band – Selections from Jersey Boys

World-Class Customer Service – The Key Is Caring – Horst Schulze on a Culture of Service

Blog - Horst SchulzePhoto Credit: Arnezzy.tumblr.com

Just the expression “5-Star Hotels” summons delicious images of ocean views and chic, comfortable rooms and all those tiny touches to insure your return. Though never a guest in such a hotel, I have enjoyed 4-star treatment, and I have been a customer of Chick-fil-A  and Southwest Airlines. All through our days, we are administering and receiving some sort of customer service.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of learning about customer service from Horst Schulze, a world-renowned leader in the field of luxury hotels. He gained his wisdom and expertise, up through the ranks, and his counsel is applicable to any peopled workplace or organization. Schulze puts caring at the foundation for world class excellence – not just caring about the customer or client (albeit extremely important) but caring for all people (the employees and all who interface with each other in his industry).

Mr. Schulze talks about the service process as three parts: delivering an excellent product (without defect), in a timely manner, with genuine caring. Genuine caring. Not silly over-friendliness, or with casual sloppiness. Genuinely caring for the customer’s personage, time, and purpose for that interaction.

Since his presentation, I have intentionally looked at service very differently. Whether we’re talking about a small business or a large franchise, a school or university, or even such a thing as a church connection team. We can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty by intentionally and comprehensively setting our culture.

Mr. Schulze is people-oriented – with his employees, vendors, and customers. He manages this in his hiring and training practices and through a vigilant daily (industry-wide) practice of his canon of customer service standards* (definitely worth a read- click on the link below to read the 24 standards). As I listened to him speak, his whole demeanor was that of one who joyfully delights in excellence and bringing it to bear in improving the lives of those around him.

No matter how well we think we’re doing in providing services or responding to the needs of our clients/customers, we would do well to look at the practices of such businesses as the Capella Hotel Group, Chick-fil-A, and Southwest Airlines. You will see this common thread of caring in their philosophies, culture, and standards.

“I dreamed of hotels where every employee comes to work not just to work but to create excellence, where every employee is committed, and where it’s not about creating rules but about every customer being taken care of the way they want to be taken care of.” – Horst Schulze**

“Focus on creating an organization of excellence and have processes where you can transfer excellence. That starts by finding out what is excellent in the eyes of the customer – what the guest really wants from us – based not just on what they said they wanted but what they were really thinking.” – Horst Schulze**

“It’s my responsibility to set standards. I have no right to accept mediocrity or limitation. If you don’t point out flaws, mediocrity will set in. It’s my business to do what is right and not make excuses for mediocrity. I agonize when I make a decision that it is good for all concerned; if it’s not, I don’t do it.” – Horst Schulze**

[Leading by Culture] “Southwest was the first to create a position entitled “Vice President of Customers.” For many years Colleen Barrett held the position. She understood that Customers always come first, and that in order to have a Customer service mindset you cannot separate the importance of the internal Customer (Employees) from the external Customers (passengers). If the internal Customer is happy, it will naturally flow to the external Customer in the form of good service.” – Lessons in Loyalty, Ian BrooksBlog - Southwest Airlines - Customer Service Culture - leapq.orgPhoto Credit: leapQ.org

 “Every life has a story, and often our customers and our employees, need a little grace and a little space when you deal with them because they are either experiencing a problem, just finished having a problem, or are about to have one. The word ‘restaurant’ means place of restoration. We think of Chick-fil-A as an oasis where people can be restored.  We’re all people with a lot of emotional things going on that don’t necessarily show on the surface, so we try to offer amenities and kindness that minister to the heart.” – Dan Cathy, President, Chick-fil-A***

Blog - Customer Service - Chick-fil-APhoto Credit: jyontheroad.blogspot.com

“Forty years ago, exceptional was a glass elevator in the lobby; then it became real paintings and fine marble and so on. Now it’s coming back to doing what the individual guest really wants: personalized and individualized service geared not to the market, but to the individual. True luxury today is about responding to each individual guest.” – Horst Schulze**

*Capella Hotel Group’s Canon service standards conceived by chairman and founder Horst Schulze

**Defining Luxury – LEADERS Interview with Horst Schulze

YouTube Video – Horst Schulze- Presentation on Customer Service

Global Leadership Summit – 6 Take-Aways from Day 2 of #GLS15

Summaries on All Speakers of Global Leadership Summit 2015 by David M. Arnold

Notes from the GLS15 – Creating World Cass Service – Horst Schulze

****A Lesson in Customer Service from Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy

The Chick-fil-A Difference: Why Customer Lingo Matters

Thank you. My pleasure.

What You Can Learn from Southwest Airlines’ Culture

***Lessons in Loyalty: How Southwest Airlines Does It – An Insider’s Point of View

Southwest Airlines – the Airlines with Heart – and One Heart I Know Well