Post from Engage International
Starting something new can be scary, even daunting at times—but with the right team it can also be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences of your leadership career.
Unfortunately, chances are that at some point you’ve been part of a launch that went horribly, horribly wrong. The right people weren’t consulted. The team didn’t understand the change. And, a few bridges were burned in the process.
So, what’s the secret to launching well?
As a team that helps churches launch technology initiatives that support discipleship, we’ve observed that the secret to a well-done launch isn’t always in your vision, cash flow, or leadership charisma. Those things help, but at the end of the day, the key is the work of the team that surrounds the idea and gives it life.
It’s simple—leaders who launch new things well build teams that launch new things well.
The life-givers to your cause need a vision to anchor around. They also need an introduction to the new idea, a sense of who is responsible and how “success” will be gauged. The team might also need some training to support your new objectives, as well as implementation plans with actual dates.
Don’t lose these essential, practical elements within your launch, but don’t neglect intangible qualities that surround this framework. Like skin on bones, certain team qualities can create protection and a seamless unity to the work at hand. They are really what make your ministry or organization launch a new initiative well.
1. Identify A Strategic Player. The teams that gain the most traction have someone who thinks strategically, and can help the team consider a variety of ways to adopt the new initiative (or tool) into their overall strategy. This person may play a variety of roles within an organization, and may not even be leading the initiative. Their strategic input is key and will serve the team well.
2. Bring Unity Of Vision. The teams who come out of training with the most clear vision, next steps and energy are the ones who involve leaders from every area of the church or organization. The leader offers clear overall direction, but gives space for each manager and team to imagine how the new initiative can be helpful for their area of responsibility. Instead of one more thing for that manager to support, it becomes a support to help that leader accomplish his or her goals.
3. Be Learners. Teams who adapt well are open to new ideas, and love to learn. They are not only willing to learn from others, but also seek out new information.
4. Know Your Environment. While learning from others is valuable, a new initiative is someone else’s idea, until you make it your own. Agile teams are eager to learn, but equally eager to re-shape the idea to fit their environment. This adaptation is key to a successful initiative.
5. Create Ownership. A successful team is able to identify what needs to happen between now and launch, clearly identify who is responsible, and put a goal date with the key action step. This also enables the team to celebrate small progress along the way and keep all parts moving simultaneously.
6. Take The Long View. While taking those early incremental steps, the most successful teams are able to see down the road. This may not come naturally for all teams, but the ones who succeed are disciplined to ask the question…What will happen in six months, a year or three years? How will we need to adjust? Seeing the long-term vision through is also essential to building trust as a team. If not, you run the risk of vision whiplash, or fatigue, when all the consecutive “visions” are moving so quickly that no one actually has a chance to see them fully implemented. The most successful teams balance this tension of the here and now with hopes for the future.
As you head into 2014, what new initiatives are you considering?
Which of these six ideas could you take action on right now, in order to create a healthy, thriving environment once it’s time to launch?
Engage International is a team of church leaders, problem solvers, researchers, programmers, web developers, and communicators who love the church and care deeply about spiritual transformation. They recently left their bright orange offices in South Barrington, IL to travel to places like Colorado, Indiana, Texas, New York City, and Toronto to work alongside thriving local churches as they launch new spiritual growth tools that help their people deepen their relationships with Jesus.