Leaders make decisions. That’s certainly not all that a leader does, but it is central to the job. And uncertainty about future-oriented decisions often sits on a pastor or ministry leader’s shoulders like a heavy weight.
One cause of this heaviness is when leaders carry the weight alone, as I’ve written in other blogs. Another reason can be the way that decisions are framed. Future shaping decisions carry much more weight than routine ones. The former might include wrestling with whether to enter a capital campaign or add a new campus or change the style of a worship service. Any of these decisions has the potential to build momentum, but they can also go the other way, sending the church in a downward spiral. Even avoiding a major decision is a decision in itself, one that can have major implications.
So what is a leader to do? In many cases you can reframe the decision. How? By looking for ways to make smaller decisions that are not make-or-break. Jim Collins describes this as firing bullets first, then cannonballs (Great by Choice). Bullets are small, less costly trials that can be used to calibrate one’s aim before committing more resources. The Heath brothers recommend that leaders “ooch” by “conducting small experiments to test one’s hypothesis” (Decisive).
You can ooch toward a capital campaign by meeting with key leaders and major donors to discuss the need and gauge their support. You can first fire bullets for a campus addition by enlisting a core group or conducting monthly worship services in an inexpensive location. The starting point for a decision about changing a worship service may be a focus group from within the congregation or research about what other churches are doing.
When leaders learn to ooch, they experience two significant benefits. Their decision-making improves because every bullet provides better information. Second, the weight that they feel when making the final decision is diminished because of that information. What major decision are you facing right now? Rather than asking what the right decision is, shouldn’t you ask how you can ooch?
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