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How to Become an ‘Unobvious’ Leader

In 2009 a University Professor called Tina Seelig split her business class at Stamford into 14 teams.

  • She gave each team £5 and just 2 hours

  • She told them to get as much ROI (Return On Investment) as possible

  • She said each team will give a presentation when the task is finished.

Here’s what happened…

  • Most teams tried to buy something at a local shop for £5 and then sell it to passers by for £8. Their ROI was minimal.

  • One team got a little more creative. They thought the £5 note was simply a distraction. So they brainstormed ways to just make money in 2 hours. Their ROI was a tiny bit better but still small.

So what did the winning team do?

  • They didn’t just think the money was a distraction, they also realised there was an untapped asset hidden in the challenge: The presentation time.

  • They reached out to local businesses offering a 3 minute presentation slot as ad-space to local students. They closed a deal for £650. An ROI of 12,900%

Seelig was an amazingly ingenious professor of business, but what questions does her task raise for leaders who want to lead more effective churches?


Do we allow our constraints to drive creativity?

Is there something really valuable I’m just not seeing?

Could my assumptions about growing a church be wrong?

Am I courageous enough to chase the unobvious solutions?


The winning team leveraged both creativity and ingenuity which led them to find an unobvious strategy and a massive rate of return.

If your church is going to defy the gravitational pull of decline you’ll need to boost your creativity & ingenuity.

A church that doesn’t focus on reaching new people has already started to decline and will eventually die. So if your church is going to defy the gravitational pull of decline you’ll need to boost your creativity & ingenuity. You’ll need to find unobvious solutions (because the obvious ones aren’t working anymore, right?)


Here are three ways you can dodge the obvious and become a more ingenious leader.


1. Routine is not a dirty word


What does your weekly routine as a leader look like? And does it serve to help you reach your goal of leading a church that reaches unchurched people? The constraint of a great weekly routine can actually drive you to unobvious and ingenious solutions. So start your day by doing your best work first (which will probably mean not opening your emails until after lunch!) What your weekly routine looks like is not that important. What’s important is that the routine exists. And it should include reading books, listening to podcasts, taking to time to rest, to dream, to write and think new thoughts. These are not things that should happen only if time allows. They should become routine.

2. Schedule stuff & ditch the ‘To Do’ list


The author Jim Collins writes of how he was in danger of missing his target of reading 50 books in a year. The reason? The Monday night football game on TV always trumped turning another page of War & Peace. So he asked his brother to come over and take his TV away… forever. Collins goes on to asks his readers: What TV’s do you need to unplug in order to reach your goals? Maybe its time to ditch the ‘To-Do' list and start a ‘Stop-Doing’ list. This will clear space for you to discover the unobvious. Rather than lists on bits of paper start scheduling everything in your diary and create the space you need to find the unobvious route.


3. Disconnect in order to connect


When it comes to leading a church you’ve got to work on it as well as working in it. And to do that you have to retreat from the whirlwind of everyday long enough to think, reflect, play & innovate. When did you last think something new? Unless you hit the mute button or choose to log-out you’ll never think new things or find those unobvious solutions.


Unless we see, we cannot begin to think

The Catholic theologian Thomas Merton once wrote, “The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds and makes all political & social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning we cannot begin to see. Unless we see, we cannot begin to think.”


If you want to find more ingenious & unobvious solutions and become a more effective leader, then you’ve got to do it! No one can do it for you. You’ve got to rethink how you do everything. You’ve got to take that next brave step, stuff up, and try again.


And we’re here to help. Its why we started the Further Faster Network. So leaders like you don’t feel alone on the journey.


Try our FREE church assessment tool here and then lets talk and find some unobvious solutions together…





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