Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Decision Tree

One of the great take-aways I received from the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott was the idea of the Decision Tree.  This is a great visual tool to help your organization be more productive (bear fruit) by identifying clearly, which categories decisions and actions fall into, so that an employee or volunteer knows exactly where he or she has the authority to make decisions and take action.  

This word picture communicates to those you lead where they are free to make decisions and how to grow and empower others to get along without you. 

Decisions are arranged in categories based on their importance and impact on the organization. The analogy of root, trunk, branch, and leaf decisions indicates the degree of potential harm or good to the organization as action is taken at each level.  

Poor decisions at any level can hurt an organization, but if you unwittingly yank a leaf off a tree, the tree won’t die.   A Root Decision if poorly made and implemented could cause major harm to the organization.  

Leaf Decisions
Make the decision. Act on it.  Do not report the action you took.

Branch Decisions
Make the decision.  Act on it.  Report the action you took daily, weekly, or monthly.

Trunk Decisions
Make the decision.  Report your decision before you take action

Root Decisions
Make the decision jointly, with input from many people.

The goal is to provide employees or volunteers a clear upward path of professional development.  Progress is made when decisions are moved from root to trunk to branch to leaf.  As an employee demonstrates a track record of making good decisions in the trunk category, for example, it will be satisfying to both the employee and the person to whom she reports when those decisions can be moved to the branch category. 
The Decision Tree also raises the level of personal accountability.  Whenever we work diligently and brilliantly, without having to be told exactly what to do, it gives more ownership to the employee and unburdens the manager or executive of work. 

It would be ideal if all leaders would be able to set the goal, “You have six months to teach everyone who reports to you to get along without you.”  

Where might the Decision Tree work in your life?
Work place.
Home, with your children.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Importance of Values and The Penn State Tragedy

I must admit that I was once a skeptic of the whole idea of knowing and living out your values but I am now a full fledged believer. I confess that during the process of trying to define my own values and values for my church, I don't think I fully comprehended what values were and their importance.  What difference does it really make that I know these values?  But two recent developments helped convince me how important it is to know and live out your values.

Maybe you've asked the same thing when you were pressed to memorize your company's values.  What's the big deal with these values? And I've heard several people share that their church leaders go through the process of naming and proclaiming their values by rote because it's the current thing to do, not fully understanding the real value of values.

The first thing that helped open my eyes was reading the book Fierce Conversations. Author, Susan Scott explained that when your values and the way you live are not in alignment, you experience an integrity gap.  If your behavior contradicts your values, your body knows and will actually be affected on a cellular level.  You can become depressed, angry and prone to disease.  You will feel out of kilter, experiencing  emotional, spiritual and even physical discomfort. Your immune system can actually be weakened when your are not living out your values and you can be more prone to illness.
Much like the body, when the employees or members of organizations and companies are not living out the values of the place where they spend 1/3 of their time, their lives and the organization suffer.

The second thing that convinced me of how important it is to live out our values is what happened at Penn State.  I've heard over and over how much Penn Stare values moral character.  But the leadership's walk didn't match their values when they chose guarding their reputation over doing the right thing.  They chose to look the other way and sweep the ugliness under the rug instead of making the hard decision to turn in a fellow coach and face the scrutiny of NCAA investigators and image police.  The leadership was "out of integrity" and it certainly hurt them and lots of others because the leaders didn't live out their stated values of integrity and character.
Understanding the importance of living in alignment with your values puts a whole new light on the value thing for me. And if values are this critical then as a leader of my family, a company, organization or church, I must:
  • Identify just what is important.
  • Communicate the values effectively, 
  • Hire people that align with your values. (companies)
  • Encourage my employees, members, family to live them out. (celebrate and reward)
  • Model them myself.   
Take an integrity gap checkup.  What are your values? Ask yourself how well does my life life actually match my values?  If there is a gap between your values and your lifestyle, you are out of integrity.

I am successful to the degree that who I am,
who God wants me to be,
and what I live
are in alignment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The most important thing

I like to listen to talks and sermons while I mow my yard so the other day I went on YouTube and pulled up Francis Chan's sermon, The Holy Spirit's Power and Our Efforts.
Right there on my riding mower, I had a come to Jesus meeting.  His sermon had a profound and immediate impact on me.  Not that the message was something that I hadn't heard before, it just came at the right time and was delivered in a way that struck a deep chord in my spirit.
Chan asked the question, "What do you work hardest toward?"  Then he gently reminded me that the most important thing for me personally to work toward was not the tasks on my to do list, or accomplishing great things.  The most important thing is developing my character and who I am in Christ.  I realized right then that I had ventured off course, gotten a little too preoccupied with changing the world and forgotten about changing me.  As I thought about my situation, I realized that most all of the pastors and church planters I coach have so much on their plates that their tasks never seem to end.  They become overwhelmed by requests of their time and unrealistic expectations and are even more prone to falling into the trap of chasing the urgent. Pastors, leaders, all of us can easily neglect the most important thing, to foster the growth of self. The irony is, Chan declared, that when we sacrifice the important for the urgent, we end up with neither.  We will not be the person that God wants us to be and we won't accomplish His goals. 
However, when we are the right person, things will happen. We will produce the fruit and we will fulfill our purpose in Christ.  As Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches.  He who abides in me shall bear much fruit, but apart from me you are nothing."
The apostle Peter also addresses this in 1 Peter 2:5, In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. NLT
God is more interested in changing us than for us to accomplish great things for Him. He loves you and me so much that He doesn't want us to stay where we are.  
The question I have to ask myself, do I want to change?  Or do I just want more stuff, more accomplishments?  Will I settle for surface and cosmetic modifications or will I strive for real change, deep in my character and my soul?  If so, I'll need to sacrifice the urgent for the important.  I'll need to devote time and effort into being who God wants me to be, the most important thing and all other things will be added.
Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

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