categories: Uncategorized, innovation, leadership, staff
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October 21st, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

8 comments (+ Add)

Small Explosions

Next week, I’ll be traveling to Chicago with several members of my team for the Cultivate 09 Conference.

While we’re there, Terry Storch and I will be talking about combustion engines…sort of. Actually, we’ll be discussing the idea that the same principles that propel an engine can also build momentum for your team.

Small explosions, or really a carefully timed series of small explosions, are what make an engine run. To create thrust on our teams, we need to figure out how to mix the right ingredients at the right time.

What are the right ingredients? A great idea. A great team. Appropriate autonomy and empowerment. Intensity.  Short term scope with high expectations.

There have been times when we’ve drastically shortened the scope for a given project, and in turn have experienced dramatic results. By focusing on what can be accomplished in a short period of time, we’re able to tackle those pieces and then move on (quickly) to the next thing.

Is there a project or idea you’ve been putting off because it’s just too much? What can be done in two weeks?  How about one week?

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  1. Oct 21, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Looking forward to hearing what you come up with, I had the chance to meet Terry at Catalyst, brilliant young man and passionate about God.
    I think about your post and a running back in Football comes to mind, they prepare by getting low, set, get the ball, run through the tackle’s, look for the hole and EXPLODE through…I LOVE it when that happens with ideas.

  2. Oct 21, 2009 at 7:34 am

    wow. this is very appropriate for me today. word.

  3. Oct 21, 2009 at 7:45 am

    One of my favorite quotes of all time:

    “Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute”…..

  4. Oct 21, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Very apt word picture.

    Can’t tell you how many leaders I’ve seen fail because they’re obsessed with finding that One Great Idea that will make it all happen. Inevitably, it fails, followed (as quickly as possible) by The Next One Great Idea, which also fails. All of which leaves people exhausted and demoralized–and the leader looking for a new gig.

  5. Oct 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Peter, very true. There’s actually a strategy for team productivity called timeboxing. The team manager sets a very tight timeline for a specific task that the team has to conquer. This usually results in innovative thinking to problem-solve in a crunch. The goal is to purposefully create that “last-minute” inventiveness that would otherwise either not exist or happen accidentally.

    The same thing can happen in larger contexts of days or weeks with whole project iterations, which is what Bobby is talking about. Good stuff.

  6. Oct 22, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    I’m not sure that shortened scope is the best strategy even if it does create for dramatic experiences. Instead, I think discerning God’s “big vision” for your church and then setting up small explosions along the way is best. Shortened scope lends towards shortened vision and if there’s one thing that the church is falling short on, it certainly isn’t vision.

  7. Oct 25, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Bring some sun and warmth with you when you come, please!

  8. Oct 26, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Craig, can you blog more specifics on this? Or are we going to have to get the talk? If so where can I download it? Awesome thought. I want to hear more.