Tag Archives: strategy

Script the critical moves

We’re a month into 2010 and we’re drowning.

We had wonderful things we wanted to accomplish, goals we set, 3 words we listed. And now, five weeks later, we’re wondering what happened.

  • Wanting change is easy.
  • Changing is hard.
  • Listing options for change is easy.
  • Picking one is hard.
  • Getting lost in the details of a solution is easy.
  • Picking just one thing to do that will make a difference is hard.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath recognize just how hard that is. In the third chapter of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, they tell us that having too many options paralyzes us into continuing with how we do things already. (I’m blogging through conversations about this book. Here’s my post on chapter two: finding bright spots.)

The solution?

In this chapter, it’s to script the critical moves. Because options and ambiguity confuse people, the Heaths say, if you want to help people change, clearly identify what you want people to do.

They look at research among doctors, grocery stores, abusive parents, a Brazilian railroad, and kids in a small town in South Dakota.  Throughout those stories, they show us that “clarity dissolves resistance.”

Over and over we ask people to change, we tell people to change, we encourage people to change, but we don’t carefully identify a simple clear step to change. And our brains get confused.

Be healthy.

Develop networks.

Love God.

And then when people ask how, when we ask ourselves how, we have huge lists.

water glassEat better. (More coffee, less coffee,  more carbs, no carbs, more meat, less meat, more fats, less fats, the right kind of fats). Drink more water. Exercise. (how many times a day? What muscle groups? What are muscle groups? How far? How fast? Who is right?).

No wonder so many of us give up in frustration.

I’m working on the health thing this year as part of my 3 words. I wanted something simple to start.

So one of my approaches this year is to drink three extra glasses of water. Some days I even line them up on my desk.

Three glasses.

I’ve got a couple of other projects I’m working on now, projects that involve helping people to change. This concept, “scripting the critical moves”, is changing how I’m thinking about them. It demands way more reflection and conversation and clarification and time.

But what if it works?



Above and following is an affiliate link for the book. If you order it, I’ll get a little money (but it won’t cost you extra.)  Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.

I also need to tell you that the copy I have is an advance copy I was sent because I requested it. I requested it because I was a fan of their previous book, Made to Stick. However, I will be buying my own copy when the book comes out in February. (And a handful of copies for other people.)


age before beauty

I work in a church building. We have Sunday school classes for adults.

When I started two years ago, there was a folder that listed them all by class title. It told the name of the class, the age bracket, the location, the teacher’s name, and a brief explanation of the group written by the group.

hope and meI made it pretty. I turned it into a trifold, put a catchy title on the front, put a picture on the back. I edited the copy a bit, but didn’t want to mess with what people said. All the classes are interested in helping people grow and learn and build relationships. Most of the classes don’t talk about what makes them demographically and microculturally distinct.

It was a nice, generic piece.

And I put the name of the class in bold type.

Yesterday while I was pouring dirt on a table in the middle of the hallway, a friend said, “I was talking to a couple people last night. Someone was visiting last week. The people trying to help the guest figure out what class to go to couldn’t find anything that told about the classes. They found a list of the classes on a map, but nothing about them.”

As I drove to work today, ready to address that problem with information for our welcome center people (the people that had been trying to help). I thought about my pretty brochure, the one that had been on the counter, right where they were. The piece that no one saw.

This afternoon, I took the pretty brochure and turned it into a two page, front and back piece that in 20 point type says “9:00am” on one side and “10:15 am” on the other. Then, in 18 point type I list the age bracket/life stage for each class. And then, in 12 point, I list the rest of the information.

It’s not pretty design for the people in the classes. There are no pictures. There is no cute title.

But that brochure didn’t work.

Now it’s functional design for people trying to help new people find a starting point.

Age before beauty. It’s the polite thing to do.

For more on communicating, here’s my teaching and learning page.

For more on communicating in churches, here’s my free ebook called Unchurchy: reflections on communication and church

8 ways people talking about intentional social media strategy may (still) be right

(This first appeared June 25, 2008. I think that the points are worth repeating and the people would probably appreciate new traffic!)

You know, them.

The people who suggest that you can be thoughtful and strategic about this blogging stuff.

I mean, the people:

  1. like Joanna Young, who suggests that you can generate a month’s worth of posts in 30 minutes. She talks about creating a mindmap with the theme of your blog. I tried it one day, while driving. I wrote one phrase, “affirming words” on the middle of a post-it index card. I generated 5 post topics in four minutes. They wrote themselves quickly and they actually were thoughtful and connected and significant.
  2. like Liz Strauss, who suggests that you can build an editorial calendar for different days, and that you can map out a month of blogging activities and control your blogging time rather than having it control you. A month ago I started a theme for Sundays. I’m working through the week the same way. (Note: the calendar idea is near the bottom of the post. It stayed with me for months before I realized that I could do it, too.).
  3. like Chris Brogan, who suggests that you stop just thinking about your personal brand and instead, actually do specific things in social media. I discovered that I have several things covered, but that I need to be more specific about a few more.
  4. like Becky McCray, who says that we need to learn to say no. Actually, Becky has said a lot of things to help me focus, but that’s one collection.
  5. like Rob Hatch, who is proof that people on the other end of social media are people. There are other examples, and you know who you are, but who’d have imagined Brogan’s and Hatch’s and Swanson’s in the same physical space at the same time?
  6. like Cheryl Smith who started a blog intended for public consumption but didn’t tell anyone about it until she had written enough posts to prove to herself she could. That kind of patience has borne fruit for her. (And she let me look ahead of time and helped me find some words from Isaiah that I had been trying to remember for months.)
  7. like Paul Merrill, who I finally believed about turning off the comment approval. It has freed up conversation wonderfully. (In the process, I also finally got wordpress set to email me each comment so I know. It hadn’t been working before.)
  8. like these faces who remind me by their daily patience and love that the core of social media is the social, not the media.

how to get there

I played a significant role in the election yesterday.

I made coffee.

Our building housed a polling place for two precincts. We provided coffee for the poll workers. I made most of it.

I didn’t, however, feel like being there at 5:00am. I wrote out directions.

1. I identified quantity.(4 scoops)

2. I identified process. (Pour the water in.)

3. I identified errors. (Don’t forget the carafe.)

It was a quick set of instructions, designed not so much for eternity but for one day.

Too often I forget to leave instructions. Too often I worry about every detail.Too often I don’t anticipate. But it was a simple and effective process to help people stay awake for an hour or two.

What is the simplest way you can describe the next thing that you want someone else to be able to do, knowing that something is better than nothing?