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Have you been in a brainstorming session lately? In these sessions, we bring together a group of people to discuss a problem and ideate solutions until we come up with a list of potential options that we like. This is really good work for teams to do. It’s amazing what we can conceive when we gather people with diverse talents and perspectives. Unfortunately, this is often where the work stops. We have a dry erase board filled with ideas, but nothing changes in our work.

The tyranny of the urgent prevents us from moving ideas to execution. It is hard to do something new when our attention is constantly distracted by issues that require our full focus. But there is a reason a performance review is not called an “idea review.” Ideas happen all the time. But your leadership is not determined by the number or scale of your ideas. The real work involves execution. How do you bring the ideas to life? What does it take to fulfill the vision?

Execution can stall when we don’t track our progress. It is vital that you measure your movement toward your stated goal. How many people do you want to see in discipleship classes? By what date? What strategies will you use to communicate the goal? Without effective communication, people who need to be involved in executing the idea will not know what to do. But even if you are careful to take the necessary steps involved in execution, it’s important to expect resistance. New ideas lead to new plans — and people might not be excited to do something new. Be sure to plan for how you will work through resistance, because that might make the difference between a good idea and good execution.


Resources

Catalytic organizations inspire

The executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity writes about the significance of ministries that renew neighborhoods and congregations and how such catalysts inspire him to live more faithfully.

By David L. Odom

A devastating storm becomes a turning point for a historic African Methodist Episcopal church

When volunteers and donors helped repair massive flood damage to its building, the pastor and congregation paid back the community by creating an ambitious food ministry.

By Ray Marcano

‘People, planet, profit, in that order’

A social enterprise in Huntington, West Virginia, focuses on the dignity of its workers while seeding the green economy and helping strengthen Appalachia.

Q&A with Brandon Dennison

Persevering through failure as the key to execution

Rather than avoiding it, how might your institution encourage and embrace moments of failure?

By Brendan Case

Executing with urgency

Christians are gifted at generating ideas. But we tend to pay too little attention to taking action, at the cost of achieving our mission.

By L. Gregory Jones


Before you go…

James 2 lays out an important biblical truth. It’s not enough to say we have faith. Faith must be translated into action: “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (v. 26). Can’t we say the same thing about ideas and execution? Good leadership is about supporting a vision with realistic plans. Most ministers I know are never short on ideas, but we’re constantly being pulled in many different directions. It’s vital that we learn to narrow our focus — to work on only one or two ideas so we can build a solid strategy for execution.

So the next time someone brings you a good idea, don’t stop talking until you have a great plan.

As always, you can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next week, keep leading!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

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