Blue Sky Thinking or Grey Sky Management

We have all been in meetings when we have been encouraged to think ‘outside the box’, ‘use a blank sheet of paper’ and ‘blue sky dream’. They are nothing new. However, the success of these meetings is dependent upon the attendees, the preparation and the ability to listen. Blue sky thinking quickly deteriorates into a rainy day when the managers begin to see the problems too soon and the potential for new things is swamped by the clouds of past failings.  Setting up these meetings well is so important.

Here are a few steps that may help;

  1. Determine who will attend – these meetings need more creatives than managers. You want ideas to flow without restraint, in the initial stages, and therefore require the big thinkers.
  2. Guard the ‘rules of the meeting’ – the chair of the meeting needs to ensure that all voices are heard. However, this is not enough, the chair of the meeting must also ensure that clouds are not allowed to form – stay strong in this.
  3. Every new idea matters – there is nothing in blue sky thinking that should be out of bounds, the limitations come in the next stages of discussion.
  4. Positive energy – the meeting should be positive thinking, leave the negative views at the door.
  5. Reward the thinkers – rewards take all shapes and forms but we need to credit those who come up with new ideas, they are the lifeblood of any organisation and prevent stagnation. If we value these people, they will continue to contribute to the benefit of everyone. They are often taking a big personal risk in sharing their ideas.
  6. Listen well – attendees must listen to absorb what is said. Then ideas can flourish – we often listen to argue with what is said, this is not listening, it is combat!

There are many more that could be added to the list, these are just for starters…..keep dreaming!

grace explosion

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah is on the mountaintop and seeing great blessing as he serves God, yet just a chapter later he is in despair. Last week, I was in chapter 18 but the last 3 days have been a chapter later and I have been despondent, like Elijah, wanting to run away from my ministry and hide. It has been a struggle and so this morning, I decided to go and sit in a public area away from my office.

As I walked to a seat, I was pleading with God to give me a sign that this ministry was worth it, that it was worth persevering, to give me a sign of hope.  On sitting down, and with immediacy, the raven fed me. A man came up to me on his mobility scooter and began a conversation. It was a conversation when the man quickly opened up about his life, both good and bad, and over 30 minutes or so we were talking about Christ, forgiveness and hope for the future. It was an important conversation – as he said goodbye there was the opportunity to pray for him and he promised to go away and reflect on what we spoke about.

Like Elijah being fed by the raven, God was feeding me with hope. This ministry is worth it, it is worth persevering and this conversation was that slither of hope that I had cried out for. God’s grace was not just apparent, it exploded in these moments. An explosion of grace…beautiful!

Enjoying the Past and Preparing for the Future

At the weekend, I was in Stratford and took a few moments to get some glimpses of the Olympic Park. It looks very different now as many of the facilities are being removed or prepared for a new future and the joys of the summer have been consigned to history.
The Olympic Games in London were a resounding success but things cannot remain the same, change has to come, in order that the outlays on the site have a life beyond the Summer 2012 and the best use of resources are made.
How do we prepare? Do we prepare for just the event? or do we prepare for the future beyond it? Some call it legacy, some common sense, in truth it is sensible planning?
Enjoy the past but do not forget to prepare for the future by making the best of the present.

what next… lent is over

So many people gave things up for Lent…..just over 40 days where they abstained, removed or altered their lifestyle.  Easter Sunday saw many of them eat chocolate, stop the workouts, engage on social networks again and more.

The question that I now have, if you go back to the way you were before, why bother at all?  If it changes things, if you are different, if reflection has led to change then, and only then, it becomes worthwhile.  If not, it is possible that it was a pointless exercise.

So, now that Lent is over, what’s next?