Friday, February 24, 2006

Mothers Sues Over Unsuccessful Abortion

I was reading Justin Taylor's blog today, and came across a post that made me sick in my stomach. A mother is suing because she attepted to abort her twins, but one of them lived, so she wants compensation for having to raise the daughter that wasn't murdered:

This has to be one of the saddest stories I've read in a while. The BBC reports that a woman in Scotland sought to abort her twins. Unbeknownst to the mother or to the doctors, one of the babies survied the attempted murder. So now the mother is suing the hospital for compensation, seeking damages for the "financial burden" or raising the child.

"I have got a child now that I wasn't planning to have and I believe the hospital should take some responsibility for that," she said.

"They should have known, or at least warned me, that I might still be pregnant when I left. It has totally changed my life and my parents' lives.
(My emphasis.)

"I still don't know if, or what, I am going to tell Jayde when the time
comes. Maybe when she is nine or 10 I will sit her down and explain it to

Try to imagine that conversation. Then weep at the depravity. Then realize
that we would act in such a murderous, self-centered way but for the grace of
God. May we cling to the cross, and cry out to God for both mercy and justice.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

This story is so sad on so many levels. Abortion is so wrong, and an article like this just shows that the problem is selfishness, and not taking responsibility for one's actions. It is more convenient to murder the unborn child than to raise him/her. I pray that one day soon our society would see the evil of abortion and end it, in the same way we saw the evils of slavery in years past and ended it.

From "Good to Great" to "Built to Last"

This is the final chapter of Good to Great. It is about taking a company that is great to the stage where it will continue to be great. The author of Good to Great, Jim Collins actually co-wrote a called Built to Last based on this concept. It was actually written before Good to Great. Good to Great, he says, is more of a prequel to Built to Last.

This chapter I suppose then is a summary of the concepts in Built to Last.

  • Enduring Comapanies don't merely exist to make money. In truly great companies, profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body: They are absolutely essential for life, but they are not the very point of life.
  • Enduring companies have core values that drive what they do. They preserve this core values while endlessly adapting their strategies to a changing world. Strategies change, values remain.
  • Enduring companies set BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) in front of themselves that fit within the Hedgehog concept. Like the 1960's NASA moon mission, a BHAG captures the imaginationa and grabs people in the gut.
  • To remain great over time requires, on one hand, staying squarely within the three circles while, on the other hand, being willing to change the specific manifestation if what's inside the three circles at any given moment.
  • Greatness doesn't necessarily mean more work; it means more work doing the right things.


I may read Built to Last sometime down the road as I have enjoyed reading Good to Great. Who would have known that I would enjoy a business book? I did though, and found that I could apply many of the concepts from the business world to my own life, and my ministry. Between this book and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I have read 2 books that I would have never thought that I would enjoy, but have. Its good to read widely, I am learning.... but as long as it doesnt come at the expense of the other theology type books!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop

This is the second last chapter in the book, Good to Great, and it was actually one of my favourites. I enjoyed the concept. The concept being:

  • Good-to-great (g2g) transformations often look dramatic, revolutionary events to those observing from the outside, but they feel like organic, cumulative processes to people on the inside.
  • No matter how dramatic the end result, the g2g transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, not miracle moment.
  • Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of build-up and breakthrough. Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.
  • The comparison companies tried to create a breakthrough, instead of slowly generating momentum. They lurched back and forth, failing to maintain a consistent direction. This was the Doom Loop.
  • Those inside the g2g companies were often unaware of the magnitude of their transformation at the time. Only later, in retrospect did it become clear. They had no name, tag line, launch event, or program to signify what they were doing at the time.


I learned from this chapter to just keep going in doing the right things, instead of being worried about creating some sort of quick program to become great. Just keep pushing on the flywheel and let its momentum build up!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Technology Accelerators

Another chapter down in Good to Great, this one called "Technology Accelerators". Here are the main points:

  • Good-to-great (g2g) companies think differently about technology than do mediocre companies.
  • G2g companies avoid technology fads and bandwagons, but are pioneers in carefully selected technologies.
  • The key question is whether or not a specific technology fits into your Hedgehog Concept. If yes, then you need to be a pioneer in it; if not, then you can settle for parity or avoid it altogether.
  • G2g companies use technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.
  • G2g companies react to technology change with thoughfulness and creativity, driven to turn unrealized potential into results. Mediocre companies react, motivated by fear of being left behind.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Culture of Discipline

Today I read the chapter in Good to Great titled "A Culture of Discipline". Here are some of the main ideas:

-Sustained great results depend upon building a culture full of self disciplined people who take disciplined action, fanatically consistent with the three circles.

-A culture of discipline involves duality. On the one hand, it requires people to adhere to a consistent system; yet, on the other hand, it gives people the freedom and responsibility to do their job within the larger framework

-The most important form of discipline for sustained results is fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that fall outside the three circles.

-The fact that something is a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" is irrelevant, unless it fits within the three circles.

-The purpose of budgeting in a good-to-great is not to decide how much money each activity gets, but to decide which activities best fit within the Hedgehog Concept and should be fully funded and which should not be funded at all.

-"Stop doing" lists are more important than "to do" lists

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Hedgehog Concept

This concept was one that I had heard of before reading this book. Our staff team in McGuelpherLoo was interested in implementing it to our ministry. So I will now explain what it is:
The Hedgehog Concept is a simple concept that flows from the deep understanding about the intersection of the following three circles...
1. What you can be the best in the world at (and what you cannot be the best at.)
2. What drives your economic engine,
3. What you are deeply passionate about.
The reason it is called the Hedgehog concept is because of a trait that a hedgehog has. Everytime the hedgehog is attacked by a predator, it just rolls up into a little ball, and it is completely covered with spikes so that nothing can harm it. It doesn't try to learn new ways to protect itself; it doesn't need to. It has an effective way to protect itself and it sticks to it.

For ministry, the economic engine circle does not really apply. We would look at the concept in as far as the other 2 circles. For Campus Crusade for Christ, we find that our Hedgehog concept is Spiritual Multiplication. For those out there that don't know what that is, you will have to ask me later, or else I will head off in a huge tangent!

All in all, I think this is an effective tool for thinking about what your focus should be. I think it applies to not only companies, but ministries, and also individuals. Think about what you are passionate about, and what you can do really well, and do that! It seems simplistic, but in order to enjoy work and be effective over the long haul, it would seem to me that these 2 criterion are necessary.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)

I read another chapter of Good to Great today. It was a good one, and by chance (who am I kidding, I don't believe in chance) one of my fellow CCC staff referred to this principle in a conversation we had today.

Here are some key points from the chapter:

All good-to-great (g2g) companies began their process to greatness by confronting the brutal facts about their current reality.

When you make the effort of confronting the brutal facts, the right decisions often become self-evident

g2g companies create environments where people have the opportunity to be heard, and so by default, the truth is heard

Creating a climate where the truth is heard involves four basic principles:

  1. Lead with questions, not answers
  2. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion
  3. Conduct autopsies (analyze a situation), without blame
  4. Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored (allow people to bring up shortcomings before they leave because the situation hasn't been addressed)

G2g companies faced adversity, but they faced it head on, and then emerged from the adversity stronger

The Stockdale Paradox: Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Charisma can be a liability as well as an asset in leadership, as your personality can deter people from bringing you the brutal facts.


An interesting chapter... The key point from this seems to be the Stockdale Paradox. Being able to hold both faith and brutal facts at the same time. Sounds like a spiritual lesson as much, if not more than a business one.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Biblical Call to Pursuing Godly Wisdom

I got back to reading When I Don't Desire God by John Piper today, after feeling the urge to read some good book after reading a post by Albert Mohler, who is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (with such famous students as Uche Anizor, Chris Shipley, and the recently graduated Arvind Balaram). His post was basically responses to questions about reading. It is a great post, and if you want to read it click here.

Anyways, I found this chapter I read today very helpful. It was practical advice about "How to Wield the Word in the Fight for Joy". I was struck by many things, but this stood out as something that needs to be trumpeted to our generation:

I have the profound sense that many people who complain of not being able to
rejoice in God treat the knowledge of God as something that ought to be easy to
get. They are passive. They expect spiritual things to happen to them from out
of nowhere. They don’t grasp the pattern of the Bible expressed in Proverbs

"If you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with
you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to
understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for
understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden
treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge
of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and

Look at all those aggressive words: “receive . . . treasure up . . . make your ear attentive . . . incline your heart . . . call out . . . raise your voice . . . seek . . . search”—if you do these, then knowledge of God will be yours. Not because you can make it happen. The giving of the knowledge is still in the hands of God: “For the LORD gives wisdom.” No, the pursuit of the knowledge of God is not because you can make it happen, but because God freely chooses to bless seeking with finding. The pattern is seen in 2 Timothy 2:7 where Paul says, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” You think. The Lord gives. Our thinking does
not replace his giving. And his giving does not replace our thinking.
I think we have a tendancy to be passive in our pursuit of God. We are used to being spoon-fed spiritual truths at church in Sunday, through a well packaged sermon (or maybe even a video...). But this passage from Proverbs states that we need to "seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasures". If our only pursuit of the knowledge of God comes from a sermon on Sunday, and maybe the odd scripture reading and a 5 minute devotional, then we have failed the scriptural call to pursuing Godly wisdom. I count myself as an offender.

I hope that I can turn the corner in my own walk. One of the ways I want to do this is by memorizing Scripture. I will begin by doing a verse a day until I have memorized Romans 8. I hope that through this I can see and love and worship God in fresh and life changing ways, as well as be an encourgement to others to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely" and pursue Christ with all we have!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

First Who...Then What

I finally got back to reading Good to Great. Today I read chapter 2 - First Who... Then What. I won't give a chapter summary as much as I will report what I think can be applied in my life.

Good to Great (g2g) leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. The key point is not necessarily to just get the right people, but to ask the 'who' questions before the 'what' questions.

The comparison companies often used the "genius with a thousand helpers' model - getting one person to come up with the ideas and enlist capable helpers to make the ideas happen. As soon as the genius leaves, however, the model fails.

The g2g leaders were rigorous, not ruthless. They made tough decisions when needed in order to help the company and the individual, not just for the sake of a shake-up.

When in doubt, don't hire - keep looking.
Only grow as big as you have capable people to lead the growing number of employees.
When you need to make a people change, do it!
Before firing, make sure the employee isn't just failing because they are in the wrong job.
Put your best people in the biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.

G2G management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet unify behind decisions.

Compensation/rewards should not be used to motivate good things from the wrong people, but rather to get and keep the right people.

People are not your greatest asset. The right people are.

Whether or not someone is the "right person" depends more on their character than their skills or knowledge.


I was struggling internally reading some of it, thinking about whether Christ would have looked at it this way. I think things like looking for character over skill is something Jesus would agree with. I also think that choosing the right people is generally a good concept. Jesus selected the 12 disciples out of many others who He didn't choose. We just have to watch our motives. I think that as a Christian leader I have to be concerned with the development of the person as much as if not more than picking the right person to do the job best. It is interesting that in the Discipleship group I lead a Guelph we are reading "The Masterplan of Evangelism", and just looked at the chapter on selection on the same day I read this chapter from "Good to Great".