Tag Archives: job transition


In starting a new job, I’m learning a new culture.
As a result, these days I’m thinking about how to do that.

1. I’m walking around the building, looking in rooms where groups of people regularly meet, reading what they put on the walls. The ways that they choose to mark their territory are varied. Some put up pictures of the group. Some put up lists of prayer requests. Some put up notes about events for the group, others events by other groups. All of these are details which, even before I have conversations, help me help them understand what they are thinking about who they are.

2. I’m listening for stories. Obviously right now, many stories begin with, “David talked about…” or “David used to…” David was in this office before me. He also is a good friend. Because of the latter, I don’t worry about how often his name comes up because I know how much he cared about this place and, more importantly, these people. What is important, however, is that people use stories of David (and others) to help illustrate how things have been done and what has been important. More that rules or policies, the stories help us understand how policies are lived out.

Whitney wrote a great post about stories as learning which expands on how we use stories as compact ways of explaining. Because of the timing of hearing about that post (HT: Chris Brogan), I decided that as I talk with groups of people here, I want to say, “tell me a story that you tell all the time. Tell me a story that says what you are about. Tell me a story about this group being it’s best.”

3. I’m listening for names. Who are the names that show up consistently in conversations with many people, and what is the nature of those mentions. This tells me is who the heroes are. This also tells me how people talk about people. So far, I’m hearing organization chart mentions of names (he does that, she does this). However, I’m also hearing particular names show up regularly and people mention other people positively rather than critically. Part of this is being new, but mostly it’s because of healthy relationships.

This also also tells me about the patterns of interaction. Because this is an organization which has been around for more than 100 years, but has doubled in the last decade, I’m curious about who and what is celebrated and how well the half of the people who have been here for less than ten years understand what has happened previously.

4. I’m listening for patterns of what I am told. I know enough about organizational cultures to know that some people look for the new person because none of the ‘old’ people will implement their wonderful idea. I know that some people look for the new person because they want to find out whether they need to worry. I know that themes that matter sometimes are mentioned by several people and that sometimes the most important thing is the issue that is never identified by anyone.

5. I’m trying to be still. It’s a challenge for me. I love to do. But in doing, particularly doing that comes too quickly, we can start things that probably shouldn’t get started.

Walking into a new place can be an adventure, a very good adventure. I’m learning a lot about myself as I work on learning about this place. One day, one trust level, one relationship at a time.


For more reflections on starting a new position:

Starting about the first day on the job

Left turn about the heading to the new place after eleven years

Dragging people along about position change in a 2.0 world

Experience about walking away from the old office

What I learned from waiting backstage about taking the position

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dragging people along

On Monday, I finished clearing my stuff out of the office formerly known as mine. That was the day I finished my time helping pastor First Missionary Church in Fort Wayne. As I was down to the last couple of boxes, and my friend Kay was getting ready to leave, she said, “hand me your phone. I need to get a picture. You’ll want to write about this, right?”

This is her picture.

Kay is one of several people around me who have moved into the blogosphere because of, well, because of me. I don’t like how self-serving that sounds, but I don’t mean it that way. The truth is that I see my work, in part, as helping people get more connected with God and with each other. I’m meeting lots of people and building relationships through this digital world. I’m doing most of my writing and reflecting in this space. I’m watching people from both of my worlds get connected and grow here, and so when people start following me, I see that as just another way I can help people follow others and God.

Kay and Sue and Nancy are people who don’t blog themselves, who seldom if ever comment here, but see themselves as part of a community which includes people that they and I have never seen. I can’t link to them. I can’t point you to their online presence because they really don’t have any. But they and many others have a significant presence that intersects with the online world in interesting ways.

Those of you I know in the 2.0 world, they ask about you. They want to know how you are doing. They care about your lives. They are interested. I am, for you and they, the mutual friend. And I can assure both of you all, 0.0 and 2.0, that you would really like each other.

What you all need to know is that you are all reflected here. As I write and think and pray and write, all of the life I am living blends together. My words are shaped by all of you and are written to all of you.

Some days it would be nice if you could talk with each other. However, forcing “my” 0.0 friend/readers to blog would be like forcing “my” 2.0 friend/readers to come to Fort Wayne.  It’s not likely because of different communication styles and community styles and geography styles.

As I’m moving from one church to another, I am very mindful that I am not disappearing from the lives of some people from FMC because our relationship has taken on a 2.0 component. We will continue to meet here, in many cases as often as we ever have. That’s a pretty cool thing. In fact, what I’m pretty sure will happen is that my 2.0 community of 0.0 and 2.0 friends will soon begin to meet some people from my new 0.0 church – Grabill Missionary Church.

So Kay? Thanks for the picture. And welcome to being published on flickr and here.  But you need to know that I took another picture, after you left. Once that reflects the sense that although I know that this move is healthy and will have great positive impact for both churches, there was still a moment of stopping and realizing that this office was home for more than 7 years, a time of great growth and shaping and opportunity.

And all of you, and you know who you are, thank you for being my (0.0/2.0) friends. I’m glad you are coming along for the ride.