Archive for the 'Management' Category

Good task, wrong time

King David, finally settled in as king of Israel after years of being hunted by his predecessor, sits in his new cedar palace, at peace with his neighbors, and says, “Hey, how can I enjoy this cool new house, when the ark of God is still sheltered in a tent? That doesn’t seem right. I’ll build God a house to dwell in, too, now that I’ve got some time on my hands.”(My paraphrase.)

But God spoke to David through Nathan the prophet: “Nope. Don’t do it. I have other plans for you, David. I don’t need a house to dwell in… at least not now, and not built by you. Remember, I took you from the pasture where you shepherded stinky sheep, and made you ruler over my chosen people. I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. And I will provide a place for Israel…”

Through this dialogue, God sets the record straight. He makes it clear to David that He is the one who will do the building (of Israel), at least for the present time. And then He lets David catch a glimpse of the future. He tells David that it’s his son (later revealed as Solomon) who will build a temple for God.

I came away from reading this passage recognizing two things:

  1. God doesn’t “need” me to do anything, like building a house for Him to dwell in, because he can raise up rocks (but more likely, other people) to accomplish His purposes if I won’t do what He wants me to. But He hands me a precious gift by inviting me to participate in His plans. I don’t want to miss what He has for me to accomplish, in His time.
  2. Not everything that comes to mind for me to do is the right project at the right time. God had already planned for the building of the temple; He just didn’t want David to do it. He had other things for David to concentrate on, to dedicate his energy to. And at the time of this interaction in 2 Samuel 7, David is enjoying some rest—a time of peace and comfort, it would appear. I may have many ideas about how CCCA can serve members and the Christian camping movement, but I need to be careful about the ones to which I dedicate my time and energy.

God promised David that his name would be among the names of the greatest men on earth. And it happened.  And after hearing from God, here’s how David responded:

“Who am I … that you have brought me this far? How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you… Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”

I don’t want to miss good things by focusing on good tasks at the wrong time.

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Must-reads for 2011

From guest blogger Martha Krienke, CCCA communications manager:

For the past two years, 13 Christian camping leaders have made up the Education Resource Council for CCCA. This handpicked group assisted in the design and development of CCCA’s MOSAIC education platform in 2010. Listed below are some of their must-reads for professionals in the Christian camping movement. Add one or two to your Christmas shopping list, and start 2011 with a step toward greater organizational and ministry effectiveness.

Leadership/Management

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Ruth Haley Barton and Leighton Ford

The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni

The Way of the Shepherd, Kevin Leman and William Pentak

In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen

The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey and Rebecca R. Merrill

Whole Life Care

Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald

Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas

Discovering the Mind of a Woman, Ken Nair

Church Culture

The Church Awakening, Charles R. Swindoll

Faith/Spirituality

Radical, David Platt

The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller

Crazy Love, Francis Chan

What Good is God, Philip Yancey

Fund Raising/Development

Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

A Revolution in Generosity, Wesley K. Willmer

Christian Living

The Rhythm of Life, Matthew Kelly

The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly and Patrick Lencioni

The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard

Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright

Business/Marketing

Thriving on Chaos, Tom Peters

Good to Great, Jim Collins

The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

The Game of Camp Life

In the November/December issue of InSite, veteran camp pros talk candidly about how they’d do things differently—or the same—if given the chance for a career do-over. Their “hindsight insights” ranged from having a more consistent personal time with God to being more sensitive to their kids’ emotional needs. Other do-overs included keeping a better diet and having a mentor. (Read the article.)

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just have a few years under your belt, what would you do over if given the chance?

A Desire for Diversity

How do you market your camp or conference center? More specifically, what images do you use—photographs of people—on your Web site, brochures or Facebook page? Do you feel peer pressure to include photos of people from a variety of races so you don’t appear biased, prejudiced or even bigoted?

Do your promotional materials accurately reflect the make-up of your clientele, or would you say the images are an “aspiration.” That is, they represent your vision, your hopes for the future.

One of my personal passions (and the theme for the January/February 2011 issue of InSite magazine) is cross-cultural relationships, and I’ve seen the benefits over and over in my life and in ministry. But I wonder if many CCCA members struggle with “honesty vs. aspiration” in the case where their constituents are almost all from one racial group. Do you feel like you’re stretching the truth if you drop in a picture of one black kid on your brochure or Web site when most of your campers, staff and leaders are white? Is that the best approach?

This challenge was addressed well in a blog post I read recently called “The Diversity Filter.” Check it out, and let me know what you think.

One generalization claims that many minority groups just don’t like camping, “roughing it.” Are you intentional about recruiting minority campers or guest groups? Have you done a reasonable amount of recruiting for staff and leaders from that group to show that you really do welcome, from their perspective, people “who look like me”?

If you’ve made strategic decisions to pursue diversity, please share what you’ve done. I’ve heard of one camp in New York that has intentionally reached out to the Korean churches in the area (go, Taconic!). From my perspective, the benefits are two-fold: First, it focuses your pursuit on the type of diversity described in heaven (people from every tribe, nation and tongue), and second, it’s a smart way to increase revenues dramatically. Your thoughts?

Taking an Inward Look

What are some of the biggest mistakes businesses have made recently? Are camp and conference leaders at risk of making the same blunders?

TheStreet.com, a financial news and comment Web site, reported in an Oct. 18 article about the “5 Biggest Business Mistakes” large companies have made recently, most notably the decisions (or lack thereof) that led to Blockbuster filing for bankruptcy.

Here is a summary of those top five “critical business mistakes” and the companies that made them:

1. Failure to recognize and respond to a changing environment. (Blockbuster)

2. Not paying adequate attention to the customer experience. (ToysRUs)

3. Failing to develop a cost-effective, customer-centric infrastructure. (Sears)

4. Using inadequate hiring practices. (Borders, which has had four CEOs since 2005)

5. Not implementing a system to ensure accountability. (BP)

You can read for yourself this brief article and perhaps see parallels to what we do in the camp and conference world. I can see relevance for our movement and for my job in each of the five mistakes.

1. Are we aware of the changing demands or expectations of our market (i.e., today’s camp and conference guests)? Are we asking them what they want, and are we watching the trends in culture and in the hospitality industry? If we fail to respond to changing needs, we could end up like Blockbuster—out of touch and potentially out of business.

2. Apparently ToysRUs hasn’t spent enough time walking in their customers’ shoes. But creating a positive, potentially life-changing guest experience is one of the hallmarks of camp and conference ministry. It is critical that we stay in touch with the way guests respond to what we offer. Where point 1, above, focuses on market trends and looks at what potential camp/conference guests may grow to expect from the industry as a whole, this point considers what individual guests experience on your property, from arrival to departure.

3. The words cost-effective ring out from this line about infrastructure. Do we use an online registration process? Does it work for our guests? Or does it leave them frustrated? And if we implemented it to help save money while making it easier on our prospective guests, is that the actual result we’ve experienced? Or, like Sears, are we forced to spend extra staff time (and therefore, money) compensating for what the system does not do?

4. Hiring well is one of the hardest things for most leaders and organizations to master. We know what we want and need, and we think the candidate at the top of the list can help us accomplish our mission through a specific role. But are our hiring practices sound, reliable and repeatable? If not, we may end up re-hiring again and again, like Borders.

5. This seems so basic: Who is responsible? Where does the buck stop? Who has authority to make decisions in any situation that might arise at camp? If any process or project does not have a leader assigned to it, blaming, dodging and finger pointing are likely to occur, just as with the BP oil spill. Who is in charge of what?

This week, the CCCA national office staff held an offsite enrichment day, and several of these issues came up in our discussion. We took time to ask and answer the questions, “What are we doing well?” and “What can we improve upon?” I was encouraged by our team’s engagement and participation as we talked about how we can serve members better. And I think we may have begun dialogue that can help prevent CCCA from making, or even passively allowing, some of the kinds of mistakes listed above.

We also spent a good deal of time revisiting our vision and mission, which sparked good ideas and comments, but most importantly, reminded us all of why we are here.

Regrouping, refocusing and listening to each other can provide tremendously valuable insight, even to the point of helping us avoid some of the biggest mistakes made by businesses and ministries. Have you set aside time recently for such an exercise? Any advice for others who are interested in doing the same?

What I Learned from a Hospitality Genius

Have you ever known anyone who just seemed to think at a different, higher level? Someone who appeared to have many answers before the questions were even asked?

I’ve been blessed to know a couple people like that in my life. And as I listen to and learn from them, it seems that often what makes them seem so smart is their ability to rise above the details and look further into the future than most “normal” people can see.  Almost like someone stretching his neck above the clouds that hover around all of our heads, helping him avoid the limitations of the circumstances immediately at his feet and allowing him clearer sight of the path ahead.

I sat down recently with Horst Schulze, an acknowledged genius in the hospitality industry. Horst was the founding president and chief operating officer of the Ritz-Carlton Hotels, and I have had the blessing of getting to know him and his family over the last five years. On a trip to Atlanta I interviewed Horst, one of those unique and gifted thinkers, for the CCCA Online Training Conference on Sept. 23.

We had the camera rolling for about 30 minutes, but after I left his office, his words kept spinning around in my head, convicting me of areas where I fall short and giving me ideas and hope for the future. I’ll pass along this one thought from that conversation: the importance of a clear vision and mission.

One of the most important things any leader can impart is the knowledge of who you are as an organization. Even small camps and conference centers need to ensure they understand their mission, their calling. No, it’s not enough for the organization’s top-ranking leader to grasp this important focal-point of ministry and business. Every member of the team must also understand the mission and core values to ensure that their actions and attitudes help accomplish the mission.

The end goal is not that everyone in the organization, including board members, can recite the mission statement from memory. That does precious little good if no one lives by the mission statement and uses its principles to govern their thoughts, plans and actions. In Horst’s words, “It helps them understand why they do what they do and how it fits into the bigger picture. Their work and the ideas they will come up with will be so much better if they buy in and understand the mission.”

As soon as I left Horst’s office, I found a place where I could send an e-mail back to the staff at the CCCA national office. I wanted them to know I value them, appreciate them, need them and that I am here to support and represent them in all their work they do for our members. Horst holds a daily 10-minute stand-up meeting in the morning to let the whole team know what’s going on. He’s painting a picture of the ongoing mission as he brings the whole staff into his plans and activities. My e-mail back to national was an attempt to follow his example.

Please plan to join us for the Online Training Conference Sept. 23. You won’t want to miss this inspirational, educational, motivational opportunity delivered by each of our seven special guests.

Delivering and Receiving Bad News

A teen daughter tells her parents she’s pregnant. An account executive tells his president he’s lost the firm’s biggest client. A truck driver tells his boss he’s just rolled a wheat truck off a 10-foot bank.

I’ve only been present for the last situation, but I know the other communication happens from time to time, and I know they’re not easy messages to deliver or receive.

Have you ever had to carry bad news to someone—a boss, your spouse, a parent or perhaps your board of directors?

What were your fears going in, and what response did you receive?

Now turn the tables. What if you were the boss, the spouse or the parent? Have you received stunning or disappointing news?

How did you respond?

Parents who respond with love and grace to the worst and most difficult of news often are the ones who can maintain a close relationship with their kids over time. Bosses who express acceptance and acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes usually are respected and appreciated by their staff.  Board members who express understanding and support even while receiving bad news can foster wonderful camaraderie and mutual respect with the CEO.

These are the ones people want to please, like to work with and enjoy serving alongside.

I’m a stickler for quality and for doing things “right.” I acknowledge that at times that can make me a difficult parent or a tough boss. But deep down, I want my kids to know that I love them no matter what and to ensure staff that I am committed to their success.

How do you want to react when receiving surprising—and maybe even awful—news? I can assure you it’s helpful to prepare in advance, even to role-play in your mind, because in the heat of the moment you may need to draw from every ounce of preparation you’ve made ahead of time.

Have you had someone extend extraordinary grace and patience to you? What did that expression do for you? Have you shown the opposite: impatience, frustration, anger? Do you believe it’s possible to expect the highest quality and performance while still showing grace and understanding when inevitable bad news comes?


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