“A Peace of Napkin”
Dan Roam’s book “The Back of the Napkin” contains fantastic ideas about ways to change our thinking and solve problems. Specificaly, he addresses the way our mind visualizes and the simplicity of using pictures. His concepts include how we “Look, See, Imagine and Show, the who/what/how much/where/when/how/why of things, as well as the SQVID model (simple vs. elaborate, quality vs. quantity, vision vs execution, individual attributes vs. comparison, and delta/change vs. status quo.) He includes a variety of ways in which to use these concepts to solve issues. Most of the practical examples he uses come from his work with businesses and corporations. I decided to try to apply some of his methods to the problem on which I am currently working - my dissertation topic. It may seem to be fairly abstract so I am hoping to clarify it with the pictures I draw on napkins. Also, I am traveling to Israel in a few days for fun and to do some ethnographic research on my topic which is “Interfaith Peacebuilding through Music.” The group I am traveling with, the Yuval Ron Ensemble, directly works with people of the three Abrahamic traditions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with music as the main peacebuilding medium. I will specifically be looking at how interfaith peacebuilding through music works. What are the practical elements put in place and how do these affect the relationships between Arabs and Israelis as well as Jews, Christians and Muslims.
I am actually one of those “squishy” creative types that Roam mentions, who try to visualize what peace might look like. So, in my napkin drawing I used Roam’s concepts of “Look, See, Imagine, Show,” and his SQVID category of “Vision vs. Execution.” Putting an abstract concept like peace into a picture was harder than I imagined. Visualizing a peaceful world becomes more complex when trying to realize the execution of this. However, in my mind’s eye I imagined how different musicians come together with a variety of instruments in order to create a beautiful song. My biggest hurdle however was feeling like it is too idealistic of a goal. But I can’t focus on that as without a “Delta/Change” then we get “Status quo.”
Did the drawing help clarify my topic?
How might you draw “peace?”
One of the challenges faced as the indigenous Church grows in India and the number of small house churches increases is their relationship with the community. In many cases, conflicts arise between the church and the community because of wrong perceptions on the part of the church as well as the community. As a result interaction between the local church and the community is minimized if not totally absent. How can the church then in such a situation become the ‘salt’ and the ‘light’ as the Bible teaches? How can it influence the community and change negative cultural and social values in a non-existing and conflicting relationship? These are questions that Christian leaders are asking now in the present context.
The Church must remain in the community and be a valued part of the community. The church must have a strong relationship with the community. Being so would open opportunities to interact with the community in healthy ways and become a catalyst of transformation. This is critical in the present context of church growth that is witnessed in India.
The problem that I wanted to identify and clarify is the difference in function between a “come” ministry and a “go” ministry. So, using the look, see, imagine, show process I began to draw. (I am one of the “’I can’t draw, but…’ people, otherwise known as the Yellow Pen people (or highlighters) because they’re often very good at identifying the most important or interesting aspects of what someone else has drawn.” pg. 24) I am NOT a drawing type person! But, I am pleased to find out that even the most simple drawings can communicate. Roam is right! That process then led to further clarification by applying the Objects, Quantities, Position in Space, Position in Time, Influence (cause and effect), and finally the why. All of those are not readily recognizable in my drawings, but most are.
The “SQVID” reminders were very helpful! In my drawings I chose Simple, Quality, Vision, Comparison, and Change. I continued to scribble and soon went through 6 folded pieces of letter sized paper folded in half. That provided 4 napkin sized frames per piece of paper! Eventually the ideas and pictures started to come into my “mind’s eye” and then they made it to the paper.
I really enjoyed the book and I do believe I will use the approach often when I need to communicate an idea, even when I feel confident that I can communicate it verbally! The added value of the picture can only contribute as long as I am careful not to add detail which does not fit.
- napkin one: traditional church ministry says, “come to grow”
- napkin two: “come” ministry focuses on growing big head through the inside activities of preaching, teaching, groups, etc.
- napkin four: “go” ministry uses inside activities to equip, teach, inspire, train in order to prepare people to go
- napkin five: “come” ministry focus on head while “go” ministry engages whole person in real life activity
- napkin six: “go” ministry focuses on head (knowledge), heart (wisdom and passion), hands & feet (action)
- napkin seven: “come” ministry does not immediately impact daily life (symbolized by the house), “go” ministry penetrates daily life as a natural matter of course
*Roam, Dan (2009-12-31). The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures . Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Back of the Napkin Exercise
I am reading Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam. He encourages organizations to solve problems through simple drawings.
The problem that I am attempting to solve is to increase the effectiveness of the worship experience on Sunday. We presently have two separate teams with little crossover. They both have distinctive styles with strengths and weaknesses. We would like for them to interact more with each other. We also would like to keep the environment of worship closer to our core values and not leave the selection and style of worship music up to the leaders themselves. This would include the following four elements gleaned from Sally Morgenthaler’s book Worship Evangelism:
Nearness: A sense of God’s Presence
We worship Him in spirit and in truth with heart felt praise, exalting God for who He is and what He has done.
Knowledge: Worship centered on Christ and the Word
We want to encourage each other to know who it is we worship, really understanding the gospel message and the God who is at the center of it.
3) Vulnerability: Opening up to God.
We seek to grow in our openness to know God at the most honest and intimate level.
4) Interaction: Participating in a relationship with God and others.
We will constantly be looking for ways to help each other express our worship to Him.
Here is a “Back of the Napkin” Drawing to present the process.
My first attempt looked like this:
But here is our process now:
First we see the two teams with little interaction, then a crossover. This would happen by having the singers from group B join group A on a regular basis and visa-versa.
We would have a joint monthly meeting together. Then meeting with staff weekly
The overall goal is to create an environment where encountering God is encouraged and the focus is on Him and not us. This will take some re-working because we have a consumer mindset that is our default.
So we plan to add an interactive creative person to help this happen both with the music and message. Also to add one person on Sundays who will rally everyone for prayer before the service. We feel and extended time or prayer that goes beyond asking God to bless us will shape us to “bring” that atmosphere into our worship leading.
Over all this has been a stimulating and thought provoking process. Implementing and presenting this to the teams is still to happen. We have learned that it is easy to get bogged down in complexity, even in a small church. Keeping things simple and easily communicated is so vital. We want to preserve the sense of love and unity. We need continue to organize as we grow to increase our awareness of God’s presence in our midst.
Some years ago I was employed in marketing at a large graphics company. I spent many days working in a trade show booth, promoting our products around the country. I was moderately successful, with a friendly smile and the information necessary to answer questions. The purpose was to build our client database, affirm current customers and highlight new products – and if someone wanted an item - to sell some inventory. Then a new CEO came on the scene.
He demanded that we sell enough product at trade shows to fund salaries for the four of us who usually attended. I was terrible at this, and floundered in selling until one of the owners came with me for a particular trade show. He set up a roll of “butcher paper” in the booth, and as each person came by with questions about product or price, they were received with an explanation and a diagram on the butcher paper. Sometimes he would write only the price while at other times, an illustration. But he always “jotted” while he spoke and it communicated wonders! Sales at the booth doubled when we began writing “on the back of the napkin!”
My church – KCC – is in the midst of a vision of beginning a satellite campus. I’ve illustrated the what, how much, how, when and why on these napkins.
1. It began with an idea to plant a church in Wyoming City, a suburb of Kentwood. The idea was developed and we felt that we would need to invest 1.6 million dollars and move 125 of our current members to the new campus.
2. We would begin hiring a campus pastor 5 months before the campus launch. He would develop this new group of 125 volunteers from KCC in our gym, as an incubator church – getting acquainted with each other and with the idea of watching the message on video. We would purchase a building and re-fit it for church services and ministries during the next few months, with a launch planned for October, on the 33 anniversary of KCC.
3. The vision of the church satellite was to create a community/church that would reach into the neighborhood through community development, lead others to an understanding of faith in Christ and become the training ground for future campus leaders/pastors for future satellite ministries.
As of May 22, we had received gifts of more than 1.6 million dollars, have placed an offer on a building, recently hired a campus pastor, have a list of about 60 members who will become part of the challenge and are on our way to launching this new venue of KCC in October of this year.
(Back of the Napkin – Dan Roam)
Over the past seven years I have directed a Spiritual Formation ministry directed at local and regional youth workers, named Project Renovation. The vision of the Project is simple, we are committed to “renewing souls and resourcing leaders”. However, sometimes in our passion to care for and develop the souls of these young leaders, we create our own business and subtly fail to live the very lifestyle in which we are calling these same leaders to join us in living. This past year, was one of these years. Many young leaders were cared for, equipped and resourced. Yet at the end of our year, my team and I were simply fried. Over the past week I have been dreaming about what the Project for 2013-2014, and more specifically how we can capture a healthy sustainable rhythm to our programing and experiences.
This past week while reading The Back of a Napkin by Dan Roam I was prompted to begin solving our Project Renovation sustainability issue with napkins. More specifically in the reading I was drawn to Roam’s concept of the <6><6> principle. Using the <6><6> principle I was first able to look at the what and why through the use of flow chart. Below are the three targeted areas Project Renovation seeks to care for and equip individuals through. Each is connected to the other via vision and development phases.
Once I was able to sketch out the three main areas of concern, I then proceeded to use a “time series” chart to answer the how much. After charting what was done in the 2012-2013 school year, the level of activity was at an extreme pace for the entire year. Targeted reasons for intense pacing were too many new initiatives, a weekly blog spot, numeric growth exceeding our staffing and growth in non gifted areas. The following is a new pacing chart with sustainable rhythms built in
Lastly, if a sustainable pacing is reached, using the “Visual Thinking Codex” the change which will occur will be three fold. One, the very balance we model in our ministry will be reflective of the very vision we proclaim. Two, with a sustainable pace, our leaders will be freed up to be present with God, each other and the very leaders we are trying to serve. And third, It will make for a happier Rick as seen below.
Rolling off the press next week to my leaders.
This week’s assignment was to produce a drawing on a napkin using the ideas and skills set forth in Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam. I was intrigued by the idea and once I got into the book I was excited to try out his process for visualizing problems and ideas.
I created a Visual Thinking Codex and decided on using three plots: Who/What, How and Why. Take a moment and decide what you think the general idea of the napkin is.
What did you come up with?
My napkin idea stems from a current problem in my ministry that will also be the focus of my dissertation. We have 8 churches that deeply engage in ministry in South Africa, which includes supporting two missionaries. We’re all from different cities and states. Not every church has a mission minister or someone who is trained to facilitate/coordinate their short-term mission trips. How does our network standardize our trainings, goals and processes so that we can make the most appropriate difference/transformation in South Africa, as well as in our own churches?
This napkin hopefully provides such a path. I want to create an easy to use, ‘just push play,’ set of trainings. They’ll include, video, print and web components that can easily be accessed and utilized. The content will include cross-cultural learning, the shift of global Christianity, history, goals, logistics and more.
So, is my napkin up to the task, or should it just be used to wipe up some spilt Spanish wine or German beer?
One of my favorite TV shows growing up was Star Trek. I loved it when captain Kirk would open up the show by narrating the mission of the Enterprise, “Space the final frontier… to boldly go where no man has gone before, these are the voyages of space ship Enterprise.” Today, I feel like I have entered into a new frontier. Last night, I just got back from China for the third trip in the last three months. I have been asked by the CEO of ABHOW to begin to negotiate Joint Ventures with two different organizations and yesterday I was meeting with one organization hammering out a few remaining issues to resolve before we sign a joint venture contract. China is a new frontier for me as my first trip to China was last August when I was asked to consult for an Insurance company who is getting into building and managing retirement communities.
I recently read Standout by Marcus Buckingham which is a new assessment to help leaders identify and use their strengths. I discovered that my strengths match working cross culturally to help build Joint Ventures to help the Chinese develop Retirement Communities to help solve their aging wave problem. According to the assessment, my top five strengths in order are provider, stimulator, connector, teacher and pioneer. These strengths uniquely equip me to easily make new friendships, to connect the dots and to teach to help others to understand new concepts.
The provider strength enables me to sense other people’s feelings (Buckingham 2011). The Stimulator enables me to encourage through enthusiasm to bring passion and energy to clients. The connector helps me to put concepts together to make something bigger. In this case, it would be partnering our company with other international companies to help them achieve their goals. Teaching helps to explain how the concepts will help the partnership achieve their goals and finally, the pioneer sees the world as a friendly place where good things happen. After understanding the strengths I have from the assessment, I believe God has opened a new door to enable me to help others in a new culture and where the need is great. This assessment has encouraged me and has strengthened my resolve to use the skills and talents God gave me to help others.
Even though I am tired and experiencing jet lag, this new frontier gives me a new place to use and grow my strengths.
Buckingham, Marcus. Standout: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Of the nine StandOut roles, my top two roles are influencer and creator. As an influencer, my mind tends to fast-forward to the final outcome of a situation. The assessment was on target in stating that I am committed to moving a person or a team to action. I often try to internally figure out what can be done to help a situation and then pose the same question to the individual or group involved. This allows me to assess where they are at internally. On an embarrassing note, the assessment pointed out my tendency to be impatient. It rises when I see that a decision should be made but others are not taking action. This causes me much frustration. A positive aspect of being an influencer is that I listen well. I listen to learn about people and their circumstances, which in turn helps me to devise a plan of action to better their predicament. I listen for trigger points.
My second role is that of a creator. I enjoy seeing the chaos and complexities and then trying to make sense of them through an analogy or word picture or concept. I’m constantly trying to understand why something is happening and then use those elements to rework a situation. To bring out the best creativity in me for dealing with chaotic situations, it is vital that I find time to be alone: a walk in the park, a drive in the car, or simply reclining in a comfy chair. As a creator my strength comes from making sense of things. Thus being able to locate patterns in any given situation helps me to put everything in perspective. And, while I am able locate patterns, I need others to help me process and create a step-by-step order that will help me or those I’m working with to arrive to foreseen finish line.
In both roles, especially as the influencer, I feel like the assessment captured my personality and temperament very well. My wife also affirmed the findings. It seems that this time around I was the one subject to the creator role as patterns were identified in me. Going forward, I plan to use these strengths to better help me better serve my family, my ministry setting, and my colleagues at work.
My Standout Assessment Report based on the book by Marcus Buckingham revealed that my first strength is as a “Stimulator” and my second is as a “Provider.” The greatest value I bring to the team is: “You make the exciting safe.”
As I read through the results of the assessment I couldn’t stop from laughing because it did seem to peg me fairly well. As a “Stimulator” I am a high energy person who likes to raise the electricity in the room and tend to see life as a “stage.” As a “Provider” I am non-judgmental, fiercely loyal and compassionate. I have a keen insight to peoples’ emotions and strive to lift and inspire others.
Areas that I need to watch out for are making sure I don’t try to solve all of the issues, and taking down time so that I don’t “crash.”
My third highest strength is “Teacher.” Since this is my profession, and one that I thoroughly enjoy, it makes sense that this ranked high. However, I do see my primary role in the classroom as one of “Stimulator” as I have realized that if the students are not having fun and are not engaged with the information they will not enjoy nor retain the knowledge. In many of my student’s assessments of me they use the phrase “passionate about the topic.” I also enact the role of “Provider,” for those students who become distracted or demotivated due to personal issues, so that they can achieve success in completing the course.
According to the Standout Assessment ways to “Challenge” me are to:
- Put me in high-stakes situations in which I have to win over clients, peers or senior executives
- Give me the broken-down and disheartened team, where trust has crumbled and conflict reigns. I can help them recover.
- The bigger the stage the better. Set me up for high-profile presentations with demanding audiences.
These are basically what I do in my classes each semester as well as at meetings and events. Overall, I see life as a great stage full of color, dreams and beauty. I feel compelled to help others realize their own goodness and have fun. I take the scripture, “O taste and see that God is good…” as literal. :)
This assessment affirmed me in many ways, and also reminded me of the areas I already knew about that needed my attention. By reminding me of my strengths it gave me a surge of confidence in how I currently teach, minister and live life. It also inspired me to remember to rejuvenate and refresh myself as well as build a good “family” around me.
Buckingham, Marcus. Standout: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, 2011.