There are a lot of articles and blog posts going around about Steve Jobs and rightfully so. He was a man who influenced the world in many different ways – good and bad depending on where you come from. Many of these articles come from people who didn’t know Steve Jobs but admired him from a far. I skipped most of those however I did read a good article by Guy Kawasaki – someone who really had a connection with Steve as Apple’s chief evangelist. His article “What I learned from Steve Jobs“, has 12 good points – each of which can relate to what it is we do in the non-profit, ministry sector just as well as the business world.
His points, my comments:
- Experts are clueless – This hit home for me. I’m considered an “expert” a lot of times and I do know a lot of stuff. But sometimes experts say things like “that can’t be done” or that because they’re “experts”, then they know where things are going. The reality is that predicting where technology is going is like forecasting the weather – you can kinda get the idea of what might happen but it’s rarely fully accurate. I think the key take-away is that Steve Jobs decided to drive where technology was going by developing technology changing devices and ideas instead of waiting for the experts to dictate what he should do. In the case of our ministry, it means that we don’t wait on church culture to say it’s something to be done but keep our eyes on the who we’re trying to reach & if they use the technology – then let’s use that technology to reach them.
- Customers can not tell you what they need – Most non-profits when they find out I work in a technology based ministry say, “I need help creating a website”. (yes, many non-profits are still without a basic, 1990’s static website) Most of the time my first question is “Why do you need a website?”. You see they think they need a website because everyone else has a website but the reality is they really need to look at what God has called them to do, be strategic in how they are going to accomplish that and then we can consult with them about different ways technology can help them do just that – sometimes its a website, sometimes its a Facebook page, sometimes it’s an interactive website with smartphone apps and an SMS Gateway.
- Jump to the next curve – Sometimes we get stuck in the “just make the existing things better & more efficient”. How many times have churches redone how they do Wednesday Night services only to finally figure out that they didn’t need to be doing Wednesday Night services but instead needed to develop a series of small groups that met throughout the week? There are times to work on existing things and improve them but there are other times when we just need to let something go and say, “What can we do in today’s culture and lifestyles that fulfills this particular need?” It usually looks very different than what was done before.
- The biggest challenges beget best work – I think we sometimes think small because we’re afraid. We, as non-profit ministries, are afraid because most of the time we’re underfunded and understaffed. This is a hard situation to be in. How do you take $60 and 2 people and create an interactive campaign to reach 1000’s? This is when creativity and “there is no box” thinking comes into play. Notice it’s not “outside the box” thinking as that still places restrictions on you. For us, we leverage a lot of open-source software that allows us to maximize older, donated equipment and get’s the job done well. Some of the projects I’m most proud of are ones where the challenge was great and the obstacles were huge – I may have grown more grey hair during those times but seeing what God does is awesome!!!
- Design Counts – Honestly, the stuff I put together is not pretty. I think sometimes in ministry we do things “good enough for missions work” (an old saying I used to hear that just makes me cringe as it says that missions work doesn’t have to be great, just working). This is like saying you brought a new person on your team because they’re breathing and still warm but have no clue as how to do anything. It really doesn’t help you. I am so thankful for our sister ministry, GEMStone Media, who has some great creative graphic designers that I can work with to make sure things have a great look and feel on many of our projects.
- You can’t go wrong with big graphics and big fonts – Ok, there’s not a lot here but the concept of simple and to the point is accurate. When we actually do work on a website for someone, many times I ask who the audience is for the site – i.e. people you’re trying to reach, supporters of the ministry, internal communications, etc. So many times I get the answer of “Yes – all of them”. When doing things these days, do one thing and do it well!!!! Same rule applies for almost all technology projects.
- Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence – My boss just reminded me of this one the other day. Why are we so set sometimes in ministry that “this is the way we’ve always done it so we must continue”? Or worse – “we said to people we’re going to do it so we’re going to do it even though it is pretty much going fail”. Be real here in your ministries. Note: Supporters of ministries – allow the ministries to have some failures because then it means they’re moving forward and not too scared to move.
- “Value” is different from “price” – While non-profits like us don’t have a “product” and we don’t compete by “lowering our prices”, this still pertains to us. I was talking with some Jehovah Witness missionaries one time and they kept asking me about my thoughts and fears of life after death and what the Earth was going to be like then. My response was that that wasn’t something I thought about as life was hard enough- my focus was on God and me in the here & now. Sometimes I think we miss the point in who we’re trying to help and/or reach.
- A players hire A+ players – This is so true. Right now I’m really trying to recruit more people to join us in eDOT. I don’t want just anybody. I want people better than me. I want people who, with God’s leading, will take it further and have way more knowledge than I do. If I report to them someday, fine by me. If I can pass on what I know to someone who is going to take it and surpass me – then my job was done correctly. Anyone? Anyone out there?
- Real CEOs demo – I have worked for so many people who didn’t have an idea of what it is I do and what it is I work with. They’ve been able to manage me and get me to do things but didn’t have a clue about the solutions I made to solve some problem within the organization. Leaders in a non-profit need to understand the different areas of the ministry. While they don’t have to be able to do everything, they should at least understand what is the function of each area and be able to explain each area to an outsider.
- Real CEOs ship – We can daydream and spend time preparing things and give out ideas, but if we as a ministry don’t actually produce anything – then what are we about? I think too many times our ministry are just about “raising awareness” but effective ministries do something and when they do, awareness is raised.
- Marketing boils down to providing unique value – Being a part of a Christian ministry, for me this one is – how are we different than any other religious or secular non-profit out there? Why are we unique and having value? Non-profits are about influencing and how are we influencing in a positive, unique way of great value? – that value being helping people see and understand what it means to have an intimate relationship to God through Jesus.
If you are a part of a ministry, non-profit group or a church – do these things challenge you? Agree or disagree with any of them?