Constant skill upgrade

The radical changes in the work world, which are very real today, are going to require constant upgrades to our skills.

The 9-10-11 edition of The Economist had a series of articles on the changing work environment. One article in particular, My big fat career, discusses the changes already underway.

One particular author, Lynda Gratton from the London Business School, suggests you will need to acquire a new skill or expertise every few years.  Continuous learning in other words.


Getting naked – Not what you think. It’s a book. Wait. Still not what you think. It’s about transparency in business relationships.

(cross-post from my other blog, Attestation Update)

Subtitle of the book is A business fable… about shedding the three fears that sabotage client loyalty.  It’s a book by Patrick Lencioni which you can find here.  As with his other books, it is an entertaining fictional story that illustrates the points instead of making them directly.

Primary focus of the book is business consultants.  It applies to directly to anyone in business working with external clients.  It can also apply to many people in the ministry world.

He suggests there are three fears that get in the way of loyalty from your clients.  These fears tear down transparency and openness.  Getting past those fears in order to improve transparency is the way this book can help anyone in business or ministry. (more…)

Space shuttle as illustration of opportunity cost and cul-de-sac

How to combine the idea of opportunity cost, cul-de-sac, and government overruns in one post?

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal editorial (behind paywall) says:

When it was first conceived, the shuttle was supposed to be a kind of space truck, going into orbit 50 to 75 times a year and carrying large payloads at a cost of $54 million a launch in 2011 dollars. It didn’t work out that way. The shuttle went aloft an average of five times a year. The cost-per-launch averaged some $1.5 billion. Its heaviest payloads barely exceeded what an unmanned Delta IV rocket can carry.

Let’s do some math, shall we?


Who defines ‘Best in the world’?

In the back of the mind, most ministry and business leaders want to be “the best in the world”. With the way we think of that phrase, it is extremely difficult to achieve that level.

Seth Godin, in his book The Dip, offers a different perspective on what that phrase means when he explains the definition of best and world. A change in focus means it is possible to be best in the world.


What are Cliffs, Cul-de-sacs, and Dips? The Dip, by Seth Godin

When is it time to push through the obstacles and keep trying to achieve?

That is the topic of Seth Godin’s book, The Dip. Since the book was written in 2007, I am late to the party. Still want to write about it because most people I talk to are not familiar with his work.

We need to distinguish between cliffs, cul-de-sacs, and dips.


Prescriptions to gain balance in your life that go beyond ‘just try harder’

We all need to gain balance in our lives. Get some ideas on how in Dr. Richard Swenson’s book In Search of Balance. (full disclosure – I am not compensated for the Amazon link.)

From my Amazon review:

More and more of everything faster and faster is the phrase Dr. Swenson uses to describe life today.

Eight words that describe all aspects of our world. More and more – a rapidly increasing volume and quality and intensity.  Of everything – all aspects of our life, such as technology, money, every area of knowledge, experiences, entertainment, great books we should read, quality of consumer goods.  Faster and faster – the rate of change is accelerating.

Nobody reading this review needs to be told your life is out of balance. With a moment of reflection we all realize that. That we don’t have a spare moment to reflect is the crux of the problem.

Instead of us just trying harder, or working smarter, or just ‘getting it together’, he provides a series of prescriptions on how to gain equilibrium in life.


Does humanitarian aid actually help? How do we know?

Outcome measures are being forced on ministries. Does this organization actually create change in the area of their cause? Ultimately, answering that question will be a good thing, even though it is very hard.

How about asking the same questions of humanitarian aid? Does the help provided actually make the lives of struggling people better? How do we know?

Measuring How and Why Aid Works – or Doesn’t, written by William Easterly in the Wall Street Journal, discusses two books that help us ask questions. The same concepts apply to aid as to domestic non-profits. Are they making any difference?

Mr. Easterly focuses in on the core issues when he says:


“Clergy Killer” – people who destroy pastors

While rare, clergy killers are real.  It would be wise to know of the concept and have a bit of knowledge on hand in case you should ever encounter one.

Clergy Killers, By G. Lloyd Rediger, ISBN 978-0664257538

From my review at Amazon:

You may wonder why there is a book tackling what seems to be an issue so severe that it must be extremely rare, if it even really exists.  The author is addressing the specific situation when a member of the congregation is truly focused on destroying a pastor.  Most people have never seen a clergy killer in operation.  I have.


“The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell, and Innovate”

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell, and Innovate – Clara Shih – ISBN 978-0137085125

From the cover:  “Whether you know it or not, Facebook and Twitter are transforming your business in profound and significant ways. (more…)

Cross-Cultural Partnerships

Cross-Cultural Partnerships – Mary T. Lederleitner – ISBN  978-0-8308-3747-2

From the back cover:  “Nothing derails global partnerships more quickly than cultural misunderstandings about finances.  North Americans don’t understand culture expectations of patronage, and Western money often comes with subtle strings attached.  So local mission work is hampered by perceived paternalism, and donors are frustrated with lack of results or accountability.  How do we build financial partnerships for effective mission without fostering neo-colonialism?  (more…)

“Weeds in the Garden – the growing danger of fraud taking root in the Church”

Weeds in the Garden – the growing danger of fraud taking root in the Church

Verne Hargrave, CPA, CFE

ISBN 0-9705433-9-5

From the preface of the book:  “The purpose of this short book is to help break {the logjam caused by the long list of reasons that prevent local churches from} taking anti-fraud steps.  As you make your way through its pages, please keep three things in mind.  First, it was {the author’s} intent to keep the book short.  (more…)