loren Eric Swanson: September 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Power of Philanthropy

This months Fortune Magazine includes a great article called "The Power of Philanthropy" by Behany McLean. It's a great story of how former President Bill Clinton is using his convening power to bring together the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Laura Bush, Bill Gates, Jacques Chirac, Warren Buffet to take on the major problems of the world. President Clinton has reinvented himself for the best third of his life with a new candor. "The Rwandan genocide didn't happen under my administration. It happened under me.""For the people of Malawi there was but one choice: to work to live. That's the way 99% of people in human history have lived. If you're in that narrow class who can live to work, you are privileged not just now, but in any single moment that every existed. If you can do something that makes a difference, you have a moral obligation. But it's not a burden, its a joy. I think those are my motives...but who can really know." Bill Clinton, Fortune, September 18, 2006, p. 98

HBR September 2006

P. 23 "Thechnolgy changes rapidly, but people don't. The best design groups understand whay people want products and what gets theirm excited about certain design. They also know how to aggregate dissimilar pieces of information and can work across disciplines. Its about being able to take something from one place and applying in to another." Dan Williams

I found this quote to be very interesting regarding the juxtaposition of technology and people. If technology catches up or identifies something people fundamentally want to do (like arrange and listen to their own music or create an extensive list of weak-linked friends) then the technology will take off--consider IPods and MySpace. But if technology simply evolves without taking into account the slow evolution of people, its not nearly as helpful. Consider the fact that in the past 20 years I have not figured out how to record a program in advance on my VCR and TIVO is already arrived.

Mind Your X's and O's--Satisfying the 10 Cravings of a New Generation

By Lisa Johnson--from HBR, Sep. 2006 p. 32
"They crave good design, being part of a subculture, and a filter they can trust to edit the morass of products and information out there. They live to pitch in on stone soup initiatives [I really like this phrase and will probably use it in the future] like Wikipedia and to have every pruchase elevated to an experience. They are hungrier than their parents for spirituality and for more satisfying forms of charity."

Innovation Interviews of 765 CEOs

This past month IBM released the results of the insights of 765 CEOs encompassing 20 industries over eleven geographic regions. If you want to download the study you can go to ibm.com/innovation/ceo9 for the complete report.
One noted caveat regarding how business views the innovation of typical churches--"One CEO stressed the enormity of past inefficiencies by labeling his enterprizing operation as 'a cross between a government agency and a church.'"

Innovation: "Using new ideas or applying current thinking in fundamentally different ways to effect significant change."

Innovation types:

  • Business model--innovation in the structure and / or financial model of the business
  • Operational--Innovation tht improve the effectiveness and efficiency of core processes or functionss
  • Products / services / markets--innovations applied to products or services or "go-to-market activities

"Unlike invention, which comes from effort, experimntation and, at times, and element of luck, innovation relies more on skill and leadership--choosing the best places to focus innovative attention and creating the ideal environment where innovatin can flourish. Yes, the creative spark will always play a role, but CEOs must also find ways to make innovation happen more systematically."

The executive summare suggests five action points:

  • Think broadly, act personally and manage the innovation mix--Create and manage a broad mix of innovation that emphasizes business model change
  • Make your business model deeply different--ind ways to substantially change how you add value in your current industry or in another
  • Ignite innovation through business and technology integration--use technology as an innovation catalyst by combining it with business and market insights
  • Defy collaboration limits--collaborate on a massive geography defying scale to open a world of possibilities.
  • Force an outside look...every time--Push the organization to work with outsiders more, making it first systematic and, the, part of your culture

These five areas define areas of breakthrough, not only for businesses but also for ministry. Our models need to be changed to change the value proposition of the church. Is there technology that can foster breakthroughs. How are we doing in collaboration? Are we operating on a "massive geography-defying scale?" Are we pushing oursleves to work more with outsiders? Is it part of our culture?

Here are a couple of quotes I thougth were worthy

"The nature of innovation--the inherent definition of innovation--has changed today from what it was in the past. It's no longer individuals toiling in a labaratory, coming up with some great invention. It's not an individual. It's individuals. It's mulitdisciplinary. It's global it's collaborative."--Sam Palmisano, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM

You have to go down blind alleys. But every once in a shile you go down an alley and it opens up into this huge, broad avenue. That makes all the blind alleys worthwhile."--Jeff Bezos, Chairman, President and CEO, Amazon.com Inc.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Southern California Leadership Community

Yesterday 40 top notch leaders from nine externally focused churches in Southern California pulled together for our second gathering at Rock Harbor Church. Wow! We had a great and passionate first day. I'll download some pictures tonight back at the hotel.

Before I get to all the spiritual gems...check out my prime rib dinner from the Newport Rib Company where we all ate last night....
One of the exercises was building a model on how to turn volunteers in the community into laborers for the harvest. I thought there were many outstanding models but these two caught my attention. The first is from Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village and the other is from Harbor Pres in San Diego. Enjoy!

You can read about all we did by checking out the blog:


User name: group5

Password: group5

Monday, September 11, 2006

Gentry David's 1st Birthday

Last night Jeff and Ashlie had a barbecue and party to celebrate Gentry David's first birthday. It was a great time of family and friends and I have to say that Gentry did a great job polishing off his birthday cake--a rite of passage for all one-year-olds.

It's great to have Jeff and Ashlie back near to us (Longmont) as they finish up school at CU and launch a new student ministry at Silver Creek High School. Jeff is an assistant football coach on the Freshman team and Ashlie is working with the cheerleaders (she was a cheerleader at NMSU and has coached HS teams so she's well qualified. Their on campus positions give them a great leg up with students, coaches and parents.

This was also the first time I put Gentry up in "The Indian Tree" although he has been on the Indian Knee before. After the cake cutting Jeff put up a pinata of sponge pants Bob. Little did we know we had a kinder, gentler type of pinata designed for kids to pull small ribbons, one of which is attached to the candy door. It took nephew Matt to really get the candy out of old Bob.


Had a very productive time in Charlottesville, VA last week with the finest equippers of lay-led ministry in the country. Assembled were the folks whose books you read and who influence hundreds of thousands through their training, teaching and mobilizing--Heidi Unruh, Don Simmons, Amy Sherman, Jimmy Dorell, Jay Van Gronigan, etc. The meeting was pulled together by good friend Andy Rittenhouse of Knoxville and facilitated by Gary Edmonds, formerly of InterDev. His job of hearding cats was done masterfully in the three day session.


coaching / training process
identify churches most ready ("hungry") for training have multiple entry points for individuals and congregations effective multiplication -- church-to-church coaching optimum coaching case load and time frame alternatives to group / class training — e.g. email web-based clearing house for cataloguing ideas, resources, training, etc.

training curriculum — qualities and content
practical, relevant, flexible biblically based -- kingdom of God theology, role of the church in the world tools to assess realistic ministry options and develop a strategic ministry plan address "nuts & bolts" issues — funding, staffing, volunteer recruitment/trainingchange paradigm: awareness / interest / knowledge / attitude / legitimating / practicephased process: initial start-up, development and maturation of community ministrydistinguish shared core elements and personalized optional "toolbelt" promote partnership skills story-telling — how God is using churches to transform individuals and communities

mobilizing members
drawing in all church members, beyond the core of activistsdealing with members' time constraints — create "time budget"effective communication system — prevent "information overload" mobilizing via small groups (e.g. Sunday school classes)making the most out of volunteers ("high capacity volunteers")

spiritual dynamics
churches need theology of serving / collaboration role of serving others in growth of personal faith spiritual dynamics to sustain ministry at a national, local, congregational, and individual level accommodate spiritual diversity within ministry groups / partnerships

dealing with resistance and conflict within the church connecting with the community dealing with diversity in the community collaborations between high and low "resource churches" collaborations between churches and secular organizations networking within a region and among regional intermediaries role of academic institutions (Christian colleges & seminaries)

ministry by individuals (informal) / corporate church body (organized) established church ministries / new initiatives ("culture of innovation") local / global efforts ("ministry" / "missions") community ministry / other church ministry (discipleship, evangelism, children's ministry, etc.) transformation at individual / community level compassion / justice challenge / celebration content / relationships evaluation general criteria for ministry effectivenessresearch and standards for assessing methodology bottom line of outcomes vs faithfulness — ending poverty vs doing good deedsstandardized measures of community transformation

Saturday, September 09, 2006

CU Falls to CSU

Since Brody Gray's mom and dad, Kristy (Wilcox) and Tim graduated from CSU and Gentry's mom and Dad, Jeff and Ashlie are at CU, the boys planned to watch the game together on TV while the parents were at the game. CSU pulled out the win in the Rocky Mountain Showdown but the boys still had a good time throwing back a couple of cold ones (milks) and munching on Cheerios.

Richmond Nights--Watching Ricky Bobby

Last night Sam and I drove from from Charlottesville to Richmond for the last race of the Busch Series at the Richmond International Speedway. Having never been to an event like this before i have to say it was quite an experience. 60 cars driving at 160 mph on a 3/4 mile short track for 250 laps...it was something else! Eating smoked turkey wings, hanging out with some laid-back country folk. It hardly gets any better.

This week Sam and I had meetings in Charlottesville and since my sister, her husband and their son, Erik live here I spent a bit of time with them. Erik attends St. Anne's Academy Belfield (STAB) so the bumper stickers that adorn parent's cars are quite interesting...like the one pictured here.