Leading Change
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The Power of the Incomplete and Unfinished

broken pottery“Well, you don’t want to show something that is weak, or poor, so you want to hold off until you get it right. And the trick is to actually stop that behavior.”–Ed Catmull, President of Pixar

Catmull explains one challenge in the creative process for Pixar but this reflected the challenges faced in ministry. I see this often with those new to ministry; they believe there ideas are not as valuable as experienced ministry leaders and frequently withhold or stifle their thoughts in order to fit in with the status quo.

They are right in one way–their ideas are not as aligned to the ministry’s structure and past. But they severely underestimate how important it is for the ministry’s future to engage new patterns of thinking.

Catmull explains another value:

There’s another advantage and that is, when you’re done, you’re done. That might seem silly, except a lot of people work on something and they want to hold it and want to show it, say two weeks later, to get done. Only it’s never right. So they’re not done. So you need to go through this iterative process, and the trick was to do it more frequently to change the dynamics.

For those leading others:

  • Do you allow space for those on your team to share unfinished and incomplete ideas?
  • Is there a culture of evaluating everything based on 100% completion? Is your team allowed to get “B’s and C’s” (and even “D’s”) on their idea report card?
  • When someone shares an idea, are judgments and criticisms the first things to be shared?

For those being led:

  • Do you take it too personally when you’re idea isn’t acted upon?
  • Can you make any changes in the way you communicate before you share an idea to help the rest of your team have a proper context for how you would prefer them to respond?
  • Will you share at least one incomplete and unfinished idea a week? Please!
photo courtesy of mickeq

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