So I have been reading The Accidental Creative: How to be brilliant at a moments notice. And let me say it is a great book. Author Todd Henry tortures you through the first four chapters, revealing so many familiar time, energy, and creativity misappropriations, it makes you a little bitter (haha). But in the remainder of the book he really starts to unpack some great practical ways the stimulate your creative abilities… love it!!!
Here is one of the key concepts that really hit me, The idea of Intelligent adjacency.
This is a concept that you see used in retail management, It means placing complimentary items next to each other, like toothbrushes and toothpaste, so that when a customer finds one item, the proximity of the complimentary item makes it more likely they will buy both…Of course we have all see it every time we walk into the store.
What Todd does then is talk about an assortment of ideas in which you can use intellectual adjacency (grouping intellectually similar ideas and task together to your advantage)… Things like scheduling meetings back to back so you don’t have idle time in between where you won’t really be able to really engage in any significant productivity. (he brings great ideas to the table, I just don’t want to give them all away… So go get the book!!!
As I was contemplating all the great ideas as well as all the time and creative energy I’ve wasted in my life (boooo). I started thinking about how all of this applies to ministry. Certainly there is much to learn about grouping activities into intellectual streams and leveraging our time, but I can’t help but think there is a different type adjacency that we could develop. What about conceptual adjacency.
Consider this, one of the biggest complaints by those that work in the Church is Silos. How often do you hear “We are all working on developing our own Silos. Everyone is just working on their own ministry.” And although there may be successes, It is only short sighted. Usually the church as a whole suffers. There are a number of different potential causes and dysfunctions that can attribute to the Silo Crisis, however I think one of the main culprits is a lack of conceptual adjacency.
Here is what I mean. lets reconsider the toothpaste isle. But instead of dental hygiene products lets bring in our ministries… Men’s, Women’s, Small groups, Outreach, Mission’s, Youth, Teaching, Discipleship, Greeting the list goes on and on.
So what fits together? (Try grabbing a paper and mapping these out) In order to really do this well, your going to have to wrestle though the idea of conceptual adjacency. Consider some of the issues that you may run into while stocking you ministry isles. Say your wanting to get involved with Treasures (a Fantastic Ministry to the women in the adult entertainment industry). Where does this go, By outreach or by Women’s ministry. By Outreach this becomes something that you do, an activity or event.Place it by the Women’s Ministry it’s part of who you area integration into the DNA of the women’s ministry. The adjacent association brings identity to who and what you are. What lies closest to your proclamation ministry; is it Discipleship? Are you an equipping Church? Or maybe it’s Greeting, are you are hospitality Church? Then again maybe it’s mercy ministries, are you a Social Justice Church.
Your conceptual adjacency will help to align your ministries by your deepest perceived purpose and relations. This will help bring clarity to your staff and to your members. Assuming you do this well, you will eliminate confusion and frustration that occurs so often when you see a church promoting a ministry in word, but in reality it’s conceptual adjacency is far from its intuitive place. Imagine if you walked into the supermarket looking for a toothbrush. You go into the toothpaste isle and where you would perceive that you would find a toothbrush you find candy. You go to the manager; “What gives here? They explain that they placed candy next to toothpaste to fight against tooth decay. They placed the toothbrushes next to the coffee to scrub away stains and the mouthwash next to garlic to help with bad breath…Is this wrong? Or is this just a store that has developed its rule of adjacency through a reactionary concept? I think it would be different and confusing for awhile but over time you would understand the product placement by embracing the underlying concept. Is your underlying ministry concept bring confusion to your staff or members?
I’m not even saying that there is a right or wrong here. What I am saying is that if you can start to understand your current conceptual adjacency that you are operating under. If you can communicate this adjacency to your staff and members; you will start to see interrelationship within your ministries and how a interdependence and congruency can be developed.
love your thoughts,