Lack of focus kills…where is yours?

In my work life, I help lead the Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail Industry at Dassault Systemes.  Part of what I do is help design the solutions that help companies innovate.  One area focuses on the in-store world.

There is a well know fact that 80% of all initiatives fail.  There are a ton of reasons, but I do believe one major factor is that people are overwhelmed at the shelf.  Think about how many laundry detergents, lipsticks, toothpastes and everything there is in the store.  There are over 100,000 different products in a store.  People can just get overwhelmed.

So here is what happens.  A shopper makes a purchase decision in 5 to 8 seconds.  They start by ignoring 95% of the products in the first 2 seconds.  This may mean that 20 of the 23 products on the shelf never get actively recognized by a shopper’s brain.  They then examine the last 3 products and judge them on a few key important factors in under 5 seconds.  The decision is made and the shopper moves on.

This isn’t just happening in your local grocery store.

I am currently in the United Methodist Communications (UMCOM) Global Council of Communications meeting in Nashville this week.  We are wrestling with the changing dynamics of the world, the denomination and even the technology we use.  We are a fractured organization that cannot act with a central focus,  nor can agree on a whole lot.

There are a couple things which are clear to me…

1. The United Methodist Church has no true focus.

2. Lack of focus leads to confusion, obscurity and eventually death.

3. People are so unfocused that they are deselecting extraneous and confusing messages from their life.

Result. The United Methodist Church is slowly dying.

Here is my simple observation:

We have a schizophrenic organization with Tourette syndrome. Every voice in our head feels like it has the right to say what it wants, when it wants.  The denomination is like a large symphony trying to play free-form jazz with every person wearing Bose noise cancelling headphones. All noise…no music.

We have gotten so bogged down in the minutiae of the connectional organization and so stuck on Methodist in-fighting  that we have a significant inability to communicate coherently.

It all starts by a unified purpose…

The best quote I heard this week is from Mike McCurry, President Clinton’s former press secretary, a skilled communicator and a man that cares a great deal about our denomination.   He made a profound comment paraphrasing James Carville:

It is about Jesus, stupid.

We think duh, but how often do we forget this.  The denomination gets bogged down in sacred cow organizational frameworks, budget battles and fighting about points of polity.  I go back my traditional training at P&G…

1. Who is the target that we want to reach? Our Community (WHO we connect with)

2. What do we stand for?  Our Calling (WHAT is our purpose and WHY are we important to the world)

3. How do we connect with others?  Our Conversation (HOW do we engage the world)

4. How do we make a difference?  Our Action (HOW we change the world)

It needs to be so simple that a 9 year old, a 39 year old and a 90 year old all understand.  It needs to be simple, yet profound.  We need to stop talking, be very choiceful and focus on transforming the world and telling our story to others.  The story of Jesus is so profound that His story is still changing lives every day.  A lonely and heartbroken man on a trip looks in the drawer in his hotel and finds a Gideon bible.  Just by reading the Gospel of Matthew, his life is forever changed.

That person was me.

We need to stop arguing about the minutiae and get back to the basics.  Let’s go do something big like making sure every child IN THE WORLD goes to bed with a full stomach.  That is love on a massive scale.  Jesus did it 5,000 people at a time.  We as a church can do it collectively for 1+ billion people at a time.

If we would do that, do you think they might ask why we do it?  They we can tell them about our friend Jesus.

Now that is a story worth telling…

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