Earlier this summer I carved out a Saturday to evaluate SpringHill’s present and think through its future. As a leader this time was important because of the critical junction SpringHill finds itself at. I needed a clear head so I could evaluate SpringHill as it is today and where it needs to be tomorrow.
I’ve learned over the years, because of how I’m wired, I need the following tools and space to do this kind of mind bending, paradigm breaking work:
First, I must have an inspiring location. I draw inspiration from nature and from quiet spaces. I also find inspiration from places with historical significance, whether it’s personal or general. On this day I chose Acorn Pointe, SpringHill Indiana’s guest house, a location that is stunning and a place that has strong historical significance for me and SpringHill.
Second, I need to stand and move. So working at a white board or flip chart is best. I also need the opportunity to go for long walks. Some of the best thinking I’ve ever done has occurred as I’ve walked. So the location needs to lend itself to leaving my work as it is and going for a long walk. For this work, my location granted me long walks around Rust Lake.
Third, it’s essential I can write my thoughts out with pen and paper. Writing helps me order my thoughts and ideas. It also helps me refine and clarify my understanding of a topic or situation. On this day I used giant 2 by 2 foot Post-It-Notes and stuck them to the windows of the guest house’s great room. This allowed me to stand, move and write all at the same time. Later, each Post-It-Note became a slide in a PowerPoint Deck that I used to present my thinking to three different SpringHill teams. I also had a journal I carried with me when I went on my walks so I could write any thoughts or ideas that came to me.
So now you know how I work best. But the more important question is – how do you work best? What are the elements that create the space you need to bring out your highest quality work? If you’ve never answered these questions, now at this moment, there’s no more important assignment you have than answering them. Because when you have the answers, you’ll have the tools to do work that makes a difference.
What do you do when you’re training 100’s of summer staff and, at the same time, hosting multiple retreat groups, all of which require a lot of meeting space, and you happen to be a camp for kids and not a conference center?
You get creative, and a little sweaty, and sore, and you convert your game room into a meeting room that accommodates over 200 people. And by convert I mean moving pool and ping ball tables, booth seating, chairs, and tables out of the game room and into other locations, and move in and set into place staging, AV equipment, and appropriate meeting room seating.
And that’s exactly what our Michigan overnight camp team did last week. Why? Because we consider it a privilege to ally with other ministries by providing them an outstanding retreat experiences, so we’ll do whatever we can to accommodate their needs, even if it means thinking and do things we’ve never thought of, or tried before.
As someone once said “necessity is the mother of all inventions”, and it’s when you’re committed to serving others, including fulfilling your commitments to them, that opportunity often becomes necessity. So, for our team, it was out both necessity and their desire to create outstanding experiences for our guests, which led to their novel solution, and more importantly their willingness to see that solution become a reality.
So you see, such things as problem solving tools and innovation processes are not enough. Real creativity and problem solving begins and ends with willing hearts and open minds, followed by a commitment to action, even at a personal cost. And how do I know this is true? Because of what our Michigan Site and Retreats team did last week to assure our guests had an outstanding SpringHill Experience.43.928283-85.286682