These new business resources have helped me to become a better strategic thinker as a church leader.
1. TED Talks. This is church for secular people. They bring in the most passionate, worthwhile, creative and successful people to share what they feel other leaders most need to hear. You can watch the videos of the talks online. They are informational, inspirational and remind me of what church should be. In March 2007, David Pogue of the NYTimes gives this summary,
Last week, I attended my second TED conference, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. During the four-day conference, you hear 50 speakers, who are given 18 minutes each. They are the most compelling, passionate, informed speakers you've ever heard (all right, maybe 45 of them are). Some bring back reports from the edge of medicine, archaeology, nanotech, neurology, psychiatry or the Web. Some, like Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman, and They Might Be Giants, perform live. But a good number of them bring you face to face with some of the most upsetting realities of human existence. The horrors in sub-Saharan Africa. The viruses that are gaining on us. The increasing scarcity of drinkable water. And over and over and over again, climate change, presented with the most harrowing examples, measurements and projections . . . There are so many standing ovations, you're practically doing 18-minute calisthenics. And the cumulative effect of the conference is devastating. You can't return to the real world thinking the same thoughts you thought before; you just can't do it. Only 1,000 people can attend TED live (it's in Monterey, California). The auditorium holds only 500 people; the rest sit downstairs in a comfortable "simulcast lounge" and watch on flat-panel high-definition TV sets. (So why don't they hold the thing in a bigger theater? They tried. Last year, they held one afternoon's talks in a Broadway-style theater. It was a disaster. The enormous hall drained all sense of intimacy, humanity and urgency from the speakers.)
I listened to Bill Clinton's talk on the world's health-care crisis. At the beginning, Clinton rattles off statistics about the plight of the world. Oh, that all American pastors (including me) could do the same.
I can't help but think these 18 minute presentations are what our congregations are hungry for: intelligent, passionate talks about changing the world. Watch them at TED's website here.
2. Jack and Suzy Welch's The Welch Way column and podcast. I have listened to all the podcasts. They are outstanding. It is great to hear the "greatest CEO in history" give his take on common management (leadership) issues. You will be a wiser supervisor for having listened. The Businessweek Welch Way website is here. I subscribe with iTunes. The link for that is here.
3. Businessweek's Cover Stories. I love the interviews on iTunes but you can read all of the past cover stories on Businessweek's website. These give you the latest of what is happening in business from the inside. There have been fascinating recent stories on Wal-Mart, Best Buy, McDonald's, Home Depot, Amazon.com, the Best Performers, the Best Places (Companies) to Launch your Career, MTV and the World's Most Innovative Companies. Businessweek's website is here. The iTunes link is here.
Of course, a church is not a business but we can certainly learn from the strategic thinking and the creative structures of other effective organizations. All of these resources inspire me and give me confidence to be an innovator - to make changes, to lead.
For more information about podcasts and iTunes, see my article the Best Podcasts for Church Leaders.
For more arguments about church and business, see the various posts related to Andy Stanley who embraces business practices. He is a good case study of the strengths of that approach and I also point out some possible weaknesses.