The Daily Pilcrow

Independent Study: Week 9

After all these weeks of reading, thinking, trying to write, discussing, thinking, reading, and trying to figure out which direction I need to go, it's entirely possible that I am at last standing at the start of the thesis.

I've sent a final proposal draft to my independent study professor and am waiting for feedback. I may need to make a few adjustments, but I hope that I will be able to submit the thesis application early this week.

So far I haven't gotten any solid writing done. Every time I tried to get something down it would slip away from me and I would end up with nothing that was working. And once I was writing online and my logout expired and I lost a couple of hours of work. Maybe now that there is more of a solid idea of what I am going to do, I'll be able to get a draft written of the introduction and maybe even something beyond that.


Published on August 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm | | 0 Comments

Independent Study: Week 8

I'm still hunting and gathering. I still feel a bit far away from where I think I should be at this point. I researched quite a bit this week and wrote for about two hours yesterday, only to lose all the writing due to a glitch when saving.

In working on defining terms I learned that "faith-based organization" generally means public services, charities or NGO humanitarian groups organized by or associated with major denominations or churches, mostly Christian. Under a broader definition "faith-based organization" can mean a church or school as well, which was my original understanding of the term.

The conversation that exists on this topic is beginning to focus for me. I see approaches to church practice that range from highly innovative (ReChurch, Seeker-Sensitive, Emergent) to not very innovative (Fundamentalist, traditional Brethren, Conservative). This is not an exhaustive continuum, but that's something I may want to develop. I see challenges for both ends of the spectrum.

I am not sure what I am trying to say at this point. I want to examine how Design Thinking can be applied to the church. Problem is, I see that it already has been (if not in those exact terms). Perhaps what I should be doing is analyzing the various ways in which it has been.


Published on August 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm | | 0 Comments

Independent Study: Week 7

This week I tried to write. I just sat down with the computer and started to write. First an introduction, then maybe an opening chapter. It didn't go well. What came out of it was a better list of questions (to ask the leaders of faith-based organizations) and a better idea of what innovation is. But I was thwarted on getting anything really written.

Add to that day-long meetings at the office (Monday-Friday) and some family life considerations. But I have a great list of what I think innovation should be, and that is really helping me think better about what aspects of design thinking innovation are most applicable to faith-based organizations. I still think there's a lot that churches, mission boards, faith-based schools, and faith-based non-profits can do to be more creative in their approaches to common challenges. This never means changing orthodoxy. This never means altering belief.

I learned today that the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA) has changed it's standards for ministers, elders, and deacons. Instead of the requirement that clergy live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness,” the new wording allows the ordination of gays and other unchaste persons. This is not the type of innovation that I am talking about.

Published on August 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm | | 0 Comments

Independent Study: Week 6

Honing, focusing, finding direction, gaining traction.

It's finally starting to dig in, and this week was a great opportunity to reconnect with the master of innovation, Marty Neumeier. As I define what I personally mean by "innovation" (and what the key proponents, like Neumeier, mean) I am beginning to get some real ideas about what innovation can mean to faith-based organizations. And while i do not like the idea of "branding faith" (to use Phil Cooke's book title) I believe that there is great benefit for a faith-based organization to remain "agile" (to use one of Neumeier's words). One of the topics I would like to address in the thesis would be what it can mean and what it might look like for a church, faith-based school, or other faith-based ministry to be "agile."

One of the key words that Neumeier uses that I believe is essential to effective innovation in faith-based organizations is empathy. Empathy may be generally defined as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of others," (Apple Dictionary Widget). As I see it, empathy is the twin to biblical "charity," or love. Here is a key tenant of Design Thinking that applies directly to faith-based organizations: the creative power of charity. I think there is much promise for application here.

The ideas of innovation also suggest that business leaders solicit solutions to corporate problems from the employees, rather than continuing the "secret society" type of management style that makes decisions in a private boardroom and then passes down mandates to the company. I want to explore the possibilities of churches (in particular) and other faith-based organizations doing the same.

While divine authority and sound doctrine should never be altered or eliminated in favor of innovation, I am interested in how a faith-based organization might be able to revitalize its work through the consideration of design thinking.

Published on August 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm | | 0 Comments