Thursday, March 20, 2014

4 Steps to Extending Your Reach into the Crowd and Community

Ever said anything that remotely sounds like this:
  • Our student ministry isn’t reaching new teens.
  • We’re just not reaching young adults anymore.
  • We’re not reaching young couples.
  • We’re seeing plenty of first time visitors, but they’re not coming back.
  • Our congregation doesn’t reflect the community.  We’re older.  We lack diversity.  We drive the wrong cars and listen to the wrong music.
What if there was a solution, but it required leaving behind the safety of your office?  What if there was an answer, but it meant getting out of your office and spending time with the people you’re trying to reach?
There is a solution
If we were product developers or marketers, we would understand the need to develop empathy for our customers’ needs.  We wouldn’t spend a lot of time criticizing our customers (or non-customers) for not being wise enough to choose our product.  We wouldn’t spend any time or energy trying to figure out why they won’t buy what we think they ought to buy or do what they should do.
If we were product developers or marketers, we wouldn’t do any of those things, would we?  No…it would be a waste of time.
Four steps that extend reach into the crowd and community
What would we do?  We’d do these four things:
  1. We’d get out of our offices and venture into the messy unknown of the lives of the people we hope to reach.  Instead of theorizing, we’d actually spend time with them.  Instead of postulating or pontificating about what they want, we’d spend time with them learning what they need.
  2. We’d suspend our fear of judgement and begin rethinking our strategies.  Instead of worrying what the usual suspects will think, we’d courageously follow the course that leads to the truth.  We’d honestly diagnose the effectiveness of what we’re currently doing.  We’d honor the wins of the past while admitting the failures of the present.
  3.  We’d accept losing control by bringing outsiders into our project.  We’d be open to the inclusion of new team members who might offer fresh perspectives on our mission.  We’d invite the participation and insights of other experts on aspects of the community.
  4. We’d quickly take first steps by implementing unproven but promising prototypes.  Instead of waiting for a fully perfected new model, we’d eagerly search for next steps that lead in the right direction.
I’ve been reading and reflecting on a set of ideas from Tom and David Kelley’s Creative Confidence.  In addition, there are excellent examples in two HBR articles by the Kelleys: Fighting the Fears that Block Creativity and Reclaim Your Creative Confidence.

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