I like roller coasters. Being a bit of an adventure junkie, they bring the kind of thrill I enjoy. My favorite coaster is called Expedition Everest located in the Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
When Everest opened it featured a giant sized animatronic “Yeti” that jumped out and swatted at guests as they passed by. Unfortunately, the engineers who built the attraction did not plan accordingly for the weight and motion of the Yeti. After a while the foundation of the beast cracked! When you ride the coaster today, the Yeti does not move at all. Worse yet, it cannot be fixed because they would have to take the entire mountain and roller coaster apart to do so.
The problem with the Expedition Everest ride is not a lack of creativity, but a lack of good planning which now hinders the creative intent of the ride.
No leader wants an Expedition Everest on their hands. Taking time to form a solid plan, exercising patience to work your plan and the discipline it takes to trust the process are all a part of leadership. They help you get things right the first time. Good planning pays off. Poor planning makes you pay. Below are a handful of ways you can be confident that you will get your next project right and avoid having an immobile Yeti to deal with!
Look for proven models and copy them.
There are other leaders and organizations in your space who do certain things better than you do. Why not copy some of it? Since you are not an expert in everything, borrow what you do not know. If you create an innovative product, find a model of how to manufacture it. Maybe you create great Sunday worship service, use a system from another church to help you disciple people.
I encourage everyone on our team to be in relationship with two or three people who do their job better than they do. Get to know them. Learn their ways. Learn how they think. Copy what applies. Do not choose a new model every year, but make yourself better by learning everything about one.
Make the most of time.
If you lead or manage people you know efficiency matters. Every minute spent in planning saves you ten minutes in implementation. Many of you recall times your team has sat around pouring over an issue trying to fix problems that could have been avoided with pre-planning. You will spend four times as long fixing problems on the back end than on the front. Ever thought about how much per hour you are paying that team to do that? My guess is a lot! If we take the time to map out the details of a new product launch or adding a new service time, we will reap the benefit of time saved and better return.
Do difficult things first.
The most laborious tasks in planning should be the first things you plan. Progress happens when you embrace this discipline. Often we shelve these to focus on the things we enjoy. A dangerous thing occurs when you do this: You create a model that cannot scale. When your organization or ministry looks and feels like your personality, no one else can lead it except you. Great leaders intentionally remove their preferences from planning. They sweat details. They see larger than what they feel or desire. Legacy leaders build models that replicate instead of kingdoms that placate. When you only work and plan the areas you enjoy you do not build a healthy organization.
Trusting any process is hard. We are emotional beings and do not enjoy being told what to do. A healthy process tells you the right things to do. It removes you and your feelings from being a stumbling block. Processes are not "sexy", but they work. Sexy things eventually get ugly. Then you are left searching for another attractive plan. Instead, trust a process that works and allow it to build something larger than yourself.
A friend of mine who works in a large ministry that is fanatical about planning said this to me recently, "People call us intense. Usually that just means they are too lazy to work hard or too afraid to change." There is some power in that statement. Are you putting the focus you need on creating a plan, working a process, and seeing incremental change? Or are you building amazing elements to roller coasters that stop working a few years in? I encourage you to lean into planning and see your leadership thrive.