Are you a Generous Mind?

Are you a Generous Mind? If you are intrigued by the idea, this is a place to explore what it means to you. Our blog focuses on helping you to learn what it means to be generous with what you know. You will find helpful tips and encouraging examples that will inspire you to release your ideas to the world! Find out more at

Monday, June 04, 2018

People-paced Change

Most people have seen a chart like this showing the speed with which adoption of new products is taking place. We hear hear a lot about the "pace of change" and its dramatic increase.

But let me push back for a moment. Look around you at the way the average person spends their day. They get up, have their coffee (or tea), get ready for work (or get the kids to school), enjoy a day of productive activity (or not), and then come home to chores, homework, sports or rest. The patterns of a person's weekend are also fairly predictable.

People's lives are busy and they arguably are doing much more than is sustainable. But the average day is not speeding up exponentially. If it isn't, what is? A few things:

  1. The number of consumers participating in the global marketplace. We are seeing huge population growth in Asia and Africa that are driving millions more people into the marketplace of ideas, products and services.
  2. Advances in technology. The use of AI, along with other advances in tech, is making new tech breakthroughs possible without nearly as many hours of human labor.
  3. Media's ubiquity. By being alerted to very accomplishment, tragedy, natural disaster and pop-star foible, we feel like the world's happenings are whizzing past us like asteroids passing a space ship.  
We cannot deny that these, among other things are speeding our world up. But what we should question is how that speed should affect us and our decision making. Anyone who has tried to introduce change to an organization, city or household can tell you that while the world seems to be changing, people can remain surprisingly resistant to change. In fact the increasing changes around people may even be making them less likely to change. 

So what inevitably happens is that visionaries, entrepreneurs and project managers see evidence of the increasing speed around them and then create expectations of how fast those around them will also move. This leads to great frustration for those managing change and for those being asked to change. 

The mistake that many innovators make is to correlate the increasing speed of global adoption with speed of a group of people in a certain setting. In a setting, all that global change is not the major force at work. Instead other forces, such as fear, insecurity, tradition, culture, history, and distrust are just as powerful as the speed of the broader world. So visionaries see one set of forces but miss the other set completely. 

I love Stephen Covey's book "Speed of Trust." (Here is a simple overview/notes and the source of the image below.) His main point is that many of the forces that push against the speed of adoption among a specific group of people can be minimized with one simple ingredient . . . TRUST. He uses this simple diagram to explain:

I contend that "people-paced change" requires a balancing of the internal trust in a group and the global trends together. This means that we must look at the trust and relationship we have within the group we are leading through change and then look at the external forces that are demanding change to understand the real pace of change that we should expect and drive for. The result of that balancing act will be a unique determination on the speed with which we can introduce change. 

Are you only looking at the External Global Forces and creating expectations around only those factors? If you are, you will be disappointed in your results. Take time to understand the internal trust levels and relationship and then marry those to the external forces and your assessment is more likely to be accurate and helpful.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Thoughts on the International Day for the Unreached

I've been thinking a lot about the word Equity recently. Equity is defined as "justice according to natural law or right." As we remember all those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus on the International Day for the Unreached, we have to ask ourselves this question. "Is it someone's right to hear about Jesus and His great sacrifice to redeem us from our sins?"

Millions die every year without accepting His grace, so was God unfair to them? Here are some things we know:

These passages encourage me that God is a just God. He judges equally and gives opportunity equally. And he takes many approaches to engage those who have not yet heard.

So why are there over 2 billion who have never heard Jesus' name? Well, here are some thoughts:
  • Many are deceived by the Devil and are living in a cloud that doesn't allow them to see what God desperately wants them to see. 
  • Others have decided to make their hearts hard and resist the truth. Remember that God gives us free will and allows us to make that choice.
  • Others will hear when we obediently tell them and are waiting for Christians to respond. 
  • But all have the opportunity to consider God's truth if they seek it out.
So, on this day of raising awareness for the unreached, the main response on our part should not be guilt that we have not done more. It should be...
  1. recognition that God is just, fair and loving.
  2. thankfulness that our God is a diligent and persistent Savior.
  3. commitment to joyfully and obediently respond to God's leading in engaging the unreached. 
It is fitting to end with this passage from Isaiah:
"he says, "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." Isaiah 49:6

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Generous Mind is Kind

Have you ever heard some say they were generous with their hatred? The very idea strike you as odd and out of place. We are generous with smiles not frowns; laughs not scowls; favors not slights.

The word generous has kindness baked into it, and therefore, hate has no place in its practice. The Latin root is "generosus" which means magnanimous and Google defines generosity as "the quality of being kind and generous."

So when we talk about being a Generous Mind, we are assuming kindness, gentleness, joy, peace and so on. These are prerequisites for the discipline of a Generous Mind.

"Why is this so important to verbalize? Isn't this obvious?" you ask. Well, no. We are a living in a time where people are being very free with what is on their mind, but it is not generosity. It is angry, disturbed, vindictive, untruthful and malicious. And the scary part is that many people think they are doing the world a service. But instead they are spreading the disease of dissent and hurting those around them in irreparable ways. They think they are being generous but they have not realized that their actions can never be considered generous because they lack human compassion and love.

Some argue that "The truth hurts." and advocate for tough love in these troubled times. Let's all stand up for courageous truth, but let's not be mistaken about what form it must take. If it is not fundamentally shared out of love and kindness towards others it is akin to a virus spreading and attacking its prey.

But how do we prepare our hearts to be generous givers rather than stealthy attackers? I recently found this simple prayer offered by Pope Francis on #WorldCommunicationsDay 2018 (January). This prayer is an amazing preparation for your day as a Generous Mind.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Integrating Platform Appropriately into our Innovation Thinking
When new ideas come along we get excited. It's natural to take hold of an innovative new approach and see how far it will take us. The problem is that it its easy to ride that wave a bit too far. 

To be fair, sometimes we need to see how far new ideas will take us before they break. That is part of the discovery process. But my bigger concern is when we believe that the ride will never end. 

We have seen an example of this in the publishing industry. Content companies are going through such major disruption that we are looking for new solutions in all quarters. One of the bright spots for many content companies has been the idea of moving from producing content to owning the platform on which content is developed by the masses. 

Some think this may be the salvation for the publishing company. We should abandon production of expensive and risky content and move that risk to the end users who have their own audiences and personal platforms of engagement. 

Bharat Anand, author of The Content Trap, has been a strong proponent of this pivot. He makes his case concisely in the book, "Content businesses everywhere tend to define themselves by their content. This is the trap. The power of content is increasingly overwhelmed by the power of user connections, of which network effects are perhaps the most potent form.”

He makes a good point in that content companies have always been enamored with the virtue of their content, even in the face of clear signs that consumers were not interested. We need to see a correction in the "print it and they will come" assumption that still plagues the content world. 

But I think he has fallen into the trap of riding the innovation wave too far. Yes we need to integrate platform thinking and platform partnerships into the world of content publishing. But if content companies give up producing content as a core element of what they do, who are they? What is the identity of a content company that has given up the noble task of producing content. 

Greg Satell, author of Innovation Mapping, has a good corrective to this move to give up content in favor of platforms. "Pundits preach that instead of building things in the real world, business should "harness the power of networks." and create platforms based on "digital, intellectual, and relationship assets." Make no mistake, this is just a different version of the Enron pixie dust of 20 years ago. Real businesses have real assets."

Bharat is right that the power of our content will only be realized when we network it in integrated ways with platforms and people. But without Greg's corrective realization that we need real assets if we are to offer real value, the allure of platform-only plays is a dead end. 

The real innovations in the content business will come when we have a healthy identify in our core skills of creating world-class content and understand that this content is only as good as the platforms that use it to engage with it. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Is it Complicated? Start with a Story . . .

We all know that people respond better to stories than to abstract ideas. But that knowledge doesn't change our behavior. We still tend to tackle complex and abstract stories with yet more conceptual thinking. Why is that?

Let me start with a story. One of the ideas that I have been championing recently is the concept of "Knowledge Stewardship." I was asked to give a TED-style talk about the idea and began preparing my presentation. I had definitions and diagrams galore, but what I didn't have was a powerful story that highlighted what stewarding knowledge looked like. That was until I decided to use a 60 Minutes story about Father Patrick Desbois; a man driven to document the mass graves of the Holocaust. 

He was a powerful example of a man stewarding knowledge for the benefit of humanity. So my preparation moved away from generic concepts and centered on what Father Desbois set about to do and what it looked like for him to act as a steward if this important information. And people responded to his story. Instead of this abstract concept, they could related to Father Desbois and what he was striving to do. Then they could apply it in their own lives and identify where they had the opportunity to be knowledge stewards. 

So back to our question. Why did I start with the abstract rather than immediately turn to a story? Well, part of it is that I am a big-picture thinker that likes abstract ideas. But it is more than that. I think that most ideas come to us in fuzzy, generic forms. Whether it is retirement savings, weather patterns, marketing strategies or philosophy, we receive generic and broad ideas because it is easier to over-simplify rather than push through the complexity to a profound simplicity. 

Yes, it comes down to intellectual laziness. We don't do the hard work to make it personal, simple and compelling. We figure that the other person will do the work if they want the information badly enough. 

But in today's information saturated world, we figure wrong. Unless they are particularly driven, people who receive our fuzzy, over-simplified ideas will simply let them hang out there like the wash on an old-fashioned clothes line. "Let someone else bring in those clothes," they will say. 

That is why Jeff Bezos and others have moved from traditional bullet point presentations to narrative style communication. They realize that the bullet points will fly by and little will stick. But a story goes deep within us and has the chance to really change our thinking unlike any propositional quip. 

While the point about narrative sticking gets all the attention. I think the main reason a story is a more powerful method of communication is that stories about real people, situations and scenarios are immediately concrete. A person does something and things happen to them. There is a clarity to a story that gets quickly lost when we bring out the Venn Diagrams. 

Recently, I put on an online event called Innovation In Mission. The focus of the event was the process of developing a culture of innovation in organizations. As I designed the event, I realized that we couldn't make it all concepts and theory. So we designed it to be rich with narrative. Our Keynote speaker integrated examples of innovations. I presented an analysis of Fast Companies' 50 Most Innovative Companies; using real companies and their stories as the centerpiece of the talk. Then we had an interview with an author of an innovation book who shared stories in a conversational approach. Instead of a focus on models, tips and steps, we kept people engaged as they worked through how these stories related to their life and work.  

So here is my challenge to you. Next time you present information, start with a story and allow that story to bring your ideas into sharp perspective. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Innovation In Mission is Happening This Week

We are so excited about this week's live web event: Innovation In Mission. If you haven't signed up yet, please take a minute to get registered. It's free and packed with great insight on how you can build a culture of innovation in your organization.

In preparation for that event, we did a guest blog post for our Sponsor: InChrist Communications. Take a moment to read the post: "What Successful Innovators Must-And Must Not-Assume"

We look forward too seeing you there at the end of the week!

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Discovering a Posture of Proximity

NOTE: Take a moment to read my top 30 tweets from "The Power of Proximity" after reading this review.

My journey into proximity started when we began attending Fellowship Bible Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado over a decade ago. This missional community was different than other churches we had attended. Instead of going "out there" to serve, our church was engaging with our community and its needs at every turn. Whether it was at-risk kids, broken people hiding in the suburbs, tough bikers or struggling homeless families, I watched God mend hearts. While our family was only engaged in some very targeted ways, being a part of this body gave us a new perspective on living among people in need and walking alongside others on life's journey.

I knew there was something powerful about walking alongside those in need in a more incarnation way but I didn't always have words to describe the power of what was going on. It wasn't until I attended Bryan Stevenson's Global Leadership Summit talk in 2017 that I got a word to describe the posture of service. That word was "proximate."

As my wife and I were on a sabbatical following the Global Leadership Summit, that word kept coming back to me as a significant idea that I needed to study further. It was during that time that I had a conversation with my friend, Michelle Warren. She and I had worked together on a refugee advocacy event and I had appreciated her work. But when she told me about her new book "The Power of Proximity," she had my attention. I knew God was challenging me to stop, read and learn.
"The most profound move you can make to address pain and injustice is to become proximate to it." Michelle Ferrigno Warren
The most profound lesson from this deeply personal book is simply that proximity makes a tangible difference in our ability to impact someone's life. While that might seem obvious, our society is living in a very different place generally. We retreat behind garage doors, phone screens and tinted car glass to avoid the needs of others. With all of the amazing advances in technology, we have found many ways to stay comfortable, keep pain at arms length and avoid getting involved.

This book challenges that posture head on. Michelle explains that, "Proximity to the poor does not just reveal what we don't know, it teaches us things no article, conference, class or book can convey." That idea is foundational to her approach. She challenges the reader that simply thinking about the problem will never allow us to make a difference. For that we have to get close, get messy and take a risk.

She goes on to eliquently make the case for why poverty and injustice must be addressed . . . both at a personal level and an institutional level. And it is the very proximity she advocates that makes her case. It is clear that as we become proximate to the pain and injustice of the world, we must respond.

Michelle's personal story is interwoven throughout the book and it is clear that she has lived her topic. It would be so ironic if an author wrote about proximity but did not live it in a meaningful way. That is not the case with this book. She has lived a life of sacrificial service and is now teaching us out of the joy, pain and daily realities she has experience.

As she walks through the challenge of taking a proximate posture, she recognizes how scary it will be for many and how much fear there may be. I love this quote as she challenges people to move beyond fear, "Choosing courage is doing the next hard thing in front of you, not worrying about the consequences or what others are doing."

But, importantly, she goes beyond the personal action of the individual to talk about injustice within systems. I'm a big picture person and she widens the lens of the issue to talk about how proximity can help people to address macro problems in society that lead to injustice. But if you don't like to think about the big picture, she has plenty of insight into what you can do on a community level as well. She balances both views well.

Finally, she ends with a focus on hope. I'm proud of Michelle for ending this way when so many others end with a hard hitting challenge for people to "get with the program." She rightly recognizes that no amount of cajoling will move people into proximity. It is only a deep hope in what God is doing in the individual lives of each person on this planet that can mobilize us to leave safety, comfort and the known for the proximate.
“It is with eyes wide open to the pain, stagnation, brokenness, and oppression in my proximity to the poor that I wake up in the morning and drink my big glass of hope.” Michelle Ferrigno Warren

Top 30 Tweets from Power of Proximity

As we read Michelle Warren's book, Power of Proximity, we shared many of the quotes on @GenerousMind's twitter feed. The following represent our favorite 30 of those tweets. Follow the hashtag #PowerofProximity to see others sharing from Michelle's book.  
  1. The most profound move you can make to address pain and #injustice is to become proximate to it. @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quoteoftheday 
  2. “Throughout our world, all kinds of half-dead beaten-up people are lying on the side of the road in need of a Good Samaritan willing to help them find healing and safety.” @mcfwarren  #powerofproximity 
  3.  “Proximity gets us so close to the pain of an issue that it radically changes our perspective and demands a deeper response. The longer we stay proximate, the more our perspective is shaped and the more we respond to what needs to be changed.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  4.  “Proximity to the poor does not just reveal what we don’t know; it teaches us things no article, conference, class, or book can convey.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  5. “Being proximate is necessary to engage brokenness because it transforms our lens. We cannot learn from a distance.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #lifelonglearning #SocialJustice #quote 
  6. This is a hard truth. We know about many things, but that doesn’t mean we are using that knowledge to love others. #powerofproximity 
  7. “When we live in proximity to the poor and we are not poor, it’s easy to think that our version of acceptability is more appropriate for our neighbors than their ways of thinking and doing.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #EmotionalIntelligence #lifelonglearning #poverty 
  8. “In essence, God’s justice recognizes that the poor need special attention. The poor need to be restored to their productive place so that the community can move forward together.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  9. “Wrestling in our heart with change can feel exciting at times, but for the most part it’s lonely.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #changemanagement #Change 
  10. “Justice is not a response to a problem, #mercy is. #Justice looks beyond the problem to see how people ended up in that broken place and works to overcome barriers so they can be restored.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  11. “Where in the Bible do we see God leave people in a broken place? We must be agents of restoration who are willing to engage systemic injustice.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  12. “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  13. “As you stay proximate, do not resist the transformational work that is happening to your heart and mind.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #socialjusticeday #poverty #Mercy @ivpress 
  14. “Privilege is something we have when we are able to elect in and out of a chosen position…God brought people into positions of privilege for the purpose of using their privilege to influence the issues of the day.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #leadership 
  15. “Only from a distance do we think fixing oppression and #injustice is someone else’s job. That is why proximity is powerful. Proximity compels us to choose a side.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #SocialJustice 
  16. “Standing against privilege carries the ultimate risk of burning the bridge that leads back home.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  17. “Proximity is powerful because it compels you to act in sincere ways, and what you lose in funding and approval from the privileged you gain in sustenance for the long haul.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  18. “My proximity to the poor did not simply transform me; it made me a deeper, wider, and stronger person in every way.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress #ThursdayThoughts 
  19. “In proximity to the poor we come to a crossroads, an intersection of God’s heart and our agenda.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quote #socialjustice 
  20. “Strong people are made because of strong decisions to move forward in weakness.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  21. “Choosing courage is doing the next hard thing in front of you, not worrying about the consequences or what others are doing.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quoteoftheday 
  22. “It is not noble to stay silently on the sidelines. It is time for the church to be the church!” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  23. “Choosing courage doesn’t mean the fear goes away. Choosing courage also doesn’t mean we have to be aggressive or abrasive as we work to inspire others to make courageous choices.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  24. “Choosing courage doesn’t mean the fear goes away. Choosing courage also doesn’t mean we have to be aggressive or abrasive as we work to inspire others to make courageous choices.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity @ivpress 
  25. “Jesus makes us all brave if we take his opportunities to practice courage over fear.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity #quoteoftheday 
  26. “The bigger the problem, the more people we need walking together toward the solution.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity 
  27. “People are not our enemies. Injustice is the enemy, as are all the powers that want to keep people in those systems in a broken place.” @mcfwarren #PowerOfProximity 
  28. “Doing right together is not a minimal effort. It is essential. No single group will ever be able to do the work of justice alone.” @mcfwarren #PowerOfProximity 
  29. “Hope is a spiritual and even religious choice. Hope is not a feeling; it is a #decision. And the decision for hope is based on what you believe at the deepest levels.” @mcfwarren #PowerOfProximity 
  30. “It is with eyes wide open to the pain, stagnation, brokenness, and oppression in my proximity to the poor that I wake up in the morning and drink my big glass of #hope.” @mcfwarren #powerofproximity