EPISODE #102 – Planning and Execution
They guys took some time while they were in South Carolina to riff about planning and execution. Most pastors are good at coming up with big ideas – but many of them struggle with executing those plans. At times, the concepts of planning and execution can even feel too unspiritual. They guys discuss the importance of planning ahead and doing the best job we can.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp. And yet another South Carolina dish. Yes. All of these have been recorded in the hotel room in west Columbia. Yeah. We’re
Bob Bickford: in the Tru hotel by Hilton, which to me, Jimbo is a combination of like Ikea we’re in the true hotel Jimbo here in Columbia and the true hotel by Hilton.
If you’ve not seen the concept for a podcast. It’s a combination of like Ikea, a dorm room in
JimBo Stewart: a hotel. Yeah. There’s like a pool table in the lobby. Weird Ikea furniture all over the place and odd color. Yeah.
Bob Bickford: Orange purple green. Yeah. It’s I don’t know what people were thinking when they decided this concept.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. It’s an interesting, deal for sure. We’re trying to nail out as many episodes as we can and get ahead of things here in here. And so we’re having a great day. Nailing some stuff down and speaking of getting stuff done, let’s get some stuff done. Yeah. You were moving on really quick there. I mean, look, this one’s about execution.
This episode is about execution, Bob. We’re not here for stories, frills, funny stories, whether they were the face. [00:01:00] All right. Okay. Well, we want to talk about, so one of the things, when we talk with pastors, a lot of times is a lot of pastors are dreamers. They think big with big ideas of where they want to go, but oftentimes where they really struggle is execution.
and so I want to talk about what are some ways that we could help guys think through how do I get some stuff done? How do I go from a big idea to actually it happening? I guess sometimes I think what we try to do is we sell. The big idea, because we’re so excited about it and just hope that because we’ve been so excited about and communicated so well that other people will go, yeah, let’s do it and then they’ll do it.
Bob Bickford: All right. I think that was me in the early days of ministry. Is that how a lot of visions about what we should do and things that I wanted to accomplish and were probably right and good, but I was always looking for [00:02:00] somebody to help me make it happen. Only a handful of times in my entire life that I have somebody say to me after casting vision or sharing an idea, you know what?
I love it. Let me help you make that happen. That’s a great op I mean, that’s great, but the challenge for us as pastors, most of us, most of the guys we’re talking to are not guys who have paid staff members who are the, make it happen, people right? Who can, who are paid vocational. To execute ministry ideas.
Right. Very few people have that. So we have to, we have to think about how do we do that with people that have full-time jobs, families, all of those sorts of things. And so it’s easy to think about what you’d like to do. It’s a lot more difficult to actually make that happen.
JimBo Stewart: Man. Execution is so hard. I think one of the first things that you could do, if, if best case scenario, if a higher.
Paid staff member that is somebody helps you think through that. Isn’t an [00:03:00] option. This is where at least in Southern Baptist life, the beauty of an associational missionary, a statement guy, they don’t, they can’t be, you’re always guy, but you could, you could say, Hey, can you help me think through how to do this?
And a lot of those guys, not all of them, a lot of those guys are trained and have studied and figured it out. How to help do that, how to make that happen, and they can sit with you and come up with a plan. And, and so step one is I would ask you, who is someone in your life within your sphere of life, of an influence that is good at that.
And maybe you’re not Southern Baptist, maybe your associational missionary district convention doesn’t have that guy. Maybe there’s another church in town, or maybe there’s a business guy in town that somebody. W Y I guess what I’m trying to say is this podcast is not going to be enough. We’re going to try to help you think through these things, but it’s going to be most advantageous.
If you can have [00:04:00] somebody sit down with you and help you think through that. Uh, we talked about that last episode about mentors and how I had a mentor to help me do that. And so, um, it, it’s a skill that once you can start learning how to do it, you can implement it yourself. You don’t have to meet them.
So Jason or missional strategists once a week for two hours and have him help you plan everything. Uh, but just thinking through, uh, how to take those steps, what would be some advice you’d give somebody trying to take some steps of execution.
Bob Bickford: Well, don’t dream alone and don’t think alone would be probably the first one that I would say is, is we need to have people in our lives who are thinking along with us and dreaming along with us.
And most of us tend to not want it. Because we don’t want somebody to critique our D our dream or our vision, or too limited in any way. But I think what I would challenge everybody to think about is that people that God’s placed around you, who are drawn to your ministry until [00:05:00] you relationally, as a leader, are people whom God’s placed in your life for a specific purpose.
Oftentimes those people help ground us in reality, or they help us turn those dreams and those ideas into actionable items to.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Usually, if you’re a visionary thinker, a big dreamer, you feel so emotionally passionate about things that when you present an idea, your emotions are attached to that. And when people start to ask questions and it feels like critique, or maybe they are critiquing you, you may have a tendency to take that person.
And I view, I mean, that’s in my natural wiring. It’s hard for me to present an idea that I’m really excited about doing, to be honest in my flesh. I just want you to tell me it’s the most brilliant idea you’ve ever heard. And you’re so glad that I brought it to you, [00:06:00] right? That’s what I want in my flesh.
That’s what I want. But you have to learn how to say no, it’ll actually be better if I could present this idea and then take my hands off of it. In that way, try not to take it personally and know that what we’re doing is we’re taking this idea or making it better by asking questions and diagnosing things, and then developing a plan.
Bob Bickford: I love that in, in divesting your personal value and worth in the fully formed communicated idea is, is really key here. And so I think one of the things is if you can determine. Are we asking the right questions in? Is this the right target? Is this what we need to do? And then asking the group of people who were with you.
Okay. This is what if everybody firms that then? Okay. How, how do we get there? What’s the first step? And so what’s the first step. What’s the next step? What [00:07:00] resources do we need? Who can we have who’s here? Who can help us with this thing? Do we need outside help you? So you just start asking all those questions.
And my mind kind of works that way, where I’m like, If we identify the vision, then the operator in me kicks in and I’m like, all right, here’s all of the a hundred things we have to do in order to make that happen. And then I think you also have to look in the room to say, all right, it’s not just enough to have the ideas.
It’s not just enough to analyze what needs to happen. Next. You have to have people who can actually make that happen and you have to be able to, to recruit them or release them or empower them within the identified vision or idea or action that you’re trying to achieve. And then you’ve got to resource them and let them go and coach them and encourage them and equip them.
So I think that there’s, there’s a lot right there and all that I just said. Um, but, but I think that you just have to think and plan with people and the energy in the room continues to go up. It’s a good sign that you’re headed towards the right. [00:08:00] It’s the right goal and energy maintains its level of excitement and anticipation.
Then you’re probably going to see more people come to that task or that vision or that initiative and work towards
JimBo Stewart: accomplishing it. I think it’s important to realize the more of a visionary thinker you are, the hardest is going to be to you at first. And it’s going to feel like drudgery and it’s going to be frustrating because in your mind, you’re good at winging it.
Most likely if you’re a visionary thinker, you’re going to think on your feet reacting quickly. And so, and it just, your brain works. You feel like better that way. And you think, man, let’s just, let’s just give it a shot and then we’ll figure out the kinks as we go. And there are moments that you need to be able to do that.
Uh, but that’s not the moments we’re talking about here. There, there are things that we do that with that we shouldn’t, that they would be much better. If we would take time and, and plan and execute a [00:09:00] plan and think through the details and do a better job of those things so that we can accomplish our goals in our mission and a better way, but it’s not going to feel very comfortable at first.
It’s going to, it’s going to really stretch your thinking, your emotions, your comfort, uh, but lean into it, man. And so what I would say for a visionary, anybody is a really high visionary. Start with a really big idea. Start with some big, huge dream that you would love to see happen. And then sit down with some people that will be invested in that dream with you, present it to them, let them ask questions and then make sure it actually accomplishes the mission, vision, values of the church.
Uh, make sure it’s not some sort of side random idea because sometimes as visionaries, we get some really random, weird ideas that have nothing to do with where we’re trying to go. Yeah. And so don’t do that, uh, make sure you’re aligned with your mission, [00:10:00] vision values of the church. If you don’t know those, that’s another conversation of having just clarity where we’re trying to go.
And if everybody agrees, if a hundred percent of everybody in the room is 80% and on board, let’s move forward. Now what you gotta do is think about that big idea and then have other people in the room help you think through what is a realistic time. In your mind it’s tomorrow, what is a realistic timeline?
You can accomplish this right. Then once you have that timeline, here’s what I like to do. I like to break that timeline, whatever it is into quarters, right. So it’s a month. I break it into four weeks. If it’s a year and a four quarters, and then I try to think, okay, so what do I need to get done? And I like to work backwards.
So I’ll start from the finished vision product and I’ll go, what all, what all has to be accomplished in order to see this done well. So if, what in that, and I’ll, I’ll literally whiteboard out [00:11:00] four boxes for my four sections. Uh, fourth one, I’ll go. What do I need to be making sure the list of last minute things?
What’s the final pieces, the final touches. And I’ll put that in the, in the, in the fourth quadrant. All right. In order to really be able to do those well, what do I need to have gotten done in the third quarter? And then in the second quadrant and then the first quadrant, and here’s where it really becomes a secret sauce for somebody that’s a high business.
I was speaking to myself when I say high visionary thinking, this is, this is a discipline I’ve had to work. It’s really hard to learn. Now I’ll go to that first quadrant. So I’ve gone, I’ve worked backwards to quadrant one and I take that first quadrant and I break it into fourths. And so if it’s a week, that means something.
I mean, just a couple of. And I will literally keep doing that until I can go. Here’s what I’m supposed to do today. And here’s where it helps. Here’s why I do that. It’s a lot of work, but as a visionary, if I can tell myself here’s a three mundane, boring task, [00:12:00] I have to get done today. But if I get these done today, I’m working towards that vision.
And it motivates me to do the mundane things that I don’t want to. Because I can attach them to, I know if I do this and I get to move on to this, and typically at least the way I plan things, they get more fun as you go. Right. And now here’s the other piece. If you’ve got a team of any kind, lay people, volunteers, don’t don’t own everything.
Even if you don’t have a team, find a team, uh, get a team and get people and think through and, and, and start breaking tasks down. Who’s going to own this. And then you have, here’s the deal. You have to figure out who’s going to own it. And you have to set a deadline. You have to set a deadline. If you don’t set a deadline, it probably won’t happen.
And then it’s going to be frustrating for everybody involved. And so break it down from big idea and to force come back to that. First [00:13:00] one, break it into fours until, and I keep doing it until I know either this week or today I have to get this done by, by Thursday. And make sure I get this done by Thursday and move on from there.
But then also within a team who’s responsible for what? And then have follow-up meetings around those deadlines, where you go, Hey, we said, these are the things that we were going to, we were going to have done by these days, where are we at on those things? And if we have to move the deadlines, does that move any other deadlines?
Cause it made domino effected me by their deadlines and listen, I know it was a lot of people that sounded like probably the most boring thing I’ve ever said on this podcast. But I promise you, it will make your life better.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I agree. A hundred percent. And in, in my mind, I’m, I’m thinking that’s a lot of force, then that’s a lot of quads and what I’m thinking.
Who can I get [00:14:00] in my world to help me think through those four steps and those four things. Right. So, so I was getting really tired thinking about how to do all that by myself and the, my visionary mind with too, you know, and my operator mind would do like, okay, that’s a lot of work who, who. Get and recruit to help me think through those things.
So, yeah, so I’ve got some folks in my life who can do that and then, but here’s the challenging part. I run into this and I think, I think some, normally the size fasters that replants will run into this. You can do all that and you can have people who will never step up to execute. And so you’re going to have your name beside a lot of boxes.
Yeah. And that’s in my mind, that’s the other thing that was making me tired because I’ve done this with my elder team before. Right. And I’ve done a couple of things. One is I, I want to try to see who among us can break this down to actionable executable items. Right. And so we started doing that and there, [00:15:00] there was someone working quiet, you know, I’ve got one guy he’s really, he’s a little more wired like me.
And he’s just, he’s great at breaking all these things down. Bad thing is he’s moving too. Right. So it’s going to be gone. So I think about, okay, who can help me think this way? And I’m going to test the team, my team who cause if it always depends on me thinking this way, but then I’m not equipping the team to think and dream and to plan and to do that.
So we’re always going to be stuck on whatever amount of energy that I can devote to that practice that you just outlined. So I want to see it in my mind. I also want to see other people who can think about this. If we can agree on the vision, are there other people that. Designing an executable plan to get there.
Right? Because that allows me to do more, to envision more things inside my church. And so some of these would do on the replay team, right. It’s like, and that’s one of the things that I realized. Um, I’m going to have to find, [00:16:00] you know, I’m going to have to ignite some inspiration or give permission for some of our team.
To drain and do these things and execute these things and get other people involved in it, et cetera. And then he’d have to do the same thing in church. Otherwise you’re always getting, you’re always going to be limited by what you can physically accomplish and what you can physically outline and, and what you can get people to agree to do.
Yeah. And so you can be a guy that’s dreaming up a lot of things and making a lot of assignments and doing a lot of progress checking. And I think initially you probably should do that because you need to learn those skills. But if that’s, if you’re still doing that minister. All the way through then there’s some things not working, right.
Because you’re not multiplied. Right. You’re adding more and you’re maybe adding capacity, maybe accomplishing a lot of things, but there’s a difference there. And I think it’s a nuance difference that a lot of us in early, early, usually leadership, we didn’t know this.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s one of those things that if, if it starting with a big [00:17:00]idea and go enough, Is too much for your team.
Uh, let’s start smaller. Yeah. And I mean, I mean, literally start, start with, I mean, here, start with like, what if, if maybe your Sunday morning worship services don’t go super smoothly. Right? I mean, I mean, what would it be like to meet with the people involved in that process and go, alright, next Sunday, what are we trying to do?
What are the songs going to be? Here’s the thing somebody has to be. And it probably doesn’t. You need to be the lead person. Somebody has to be the designated question asker, but just ask those questions. Right. But it just, and so, and this is where I do think and associational person or something like that can come and serve in that way once or twice, don’t overuse them on this.
But I mean, they can come teach your team. Some of these. But they can come. Some of them, I had a lot of these guys are trained at this and can come and just go, [00:18:00] okay. So what is it going to take in order for Sunday to go well? Okay, well, who’s responsible for those things. A lot of times what happens is we just never ask those questions.
And so things go assumed and we, oh, I thought so-and-so’s going to do that. Or I didn’t, I didn’t realize that was my responsibility or, you know, there it’s, it’s really all about all of this is, listen. It’s not about business strategy. It’s not about any of that. This is about. This is about understanding what each person, the whole purpose of this whole thing is just how do we gain clarity?
Bob Bickford: Right. And how do you check for check that everybody’s clear. All right. And so that’s a piece that, um, I have recently experienced at our church is our, uh, with our, our meetings with our leadership team, I believe we’ve been clear. And so for me, I. You know, I’ve operated two developments, so I’ve got the replant world that I’m operating in and I’ve got the church world that I’m operating in.
So I’m [00:19:00] shifting gears between those two quite often. And, um, the, the people who function in our replay team are, I would say high initiative driven. They want to do things we wanna accomplish and super passionate about the goal. And my church team is a little less like that and much more. We believe in the church and we’re excited about being here and we want it to be good, but they’re not like it’s not like high initiative and Highland.
So, so there’s two different worlds that I lead in. And one of the things I had to think about recently from experience is are we clear on what we’re doing? And are we clear on who’s doing what? And then I think one of the things you said early on, are we clear when this needs to be done? Right? And so.
Early on in my ministry. I wanted to do one of the, like a delegated and dumped kind of a thing. Right. Okay. You’ve got the tech schedule, you’re running with it. Right. Awesome. I’m not going to check back [00:20:00] in. I’m not going to think about it. I’m not going to, you know, and so I need to make a note until that leader shows and by demonstrating their commitment and their execution ability to actually do something, I need to make sure.
They’re going to do it and it’s going to happen. And so I’ve got to not delegate up. I’ll cut a check back yet.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. And that’s where, I mean, I would go back to the situational leadership episode that we did with Bob and garner, which was also in a hotel. Sit we’d sit lead situational leadership, uh, is, uh, yeah.
Say that correctly. So set lead, um, mill meal and understanding where people are at, but here’s what I’ve found. Some people who aren’t good at initiative it’s because they’re not able to think through or that it’s not easy for them to think through the pieces, but if you can sit with them and say, here are the three things that I need you [00:21:00] to have done by such and such.
And this is what they need to look like. They’ll probably just go do them and do them well. Uh, they may not be great at, we wouldn’t beyond that, but a process like this can bring that kind of clarity to go where they don’t necessarily have to have initiative, but they have deadlines. And, and that’s why that deadline piece is so simple.
To go. I need, I agree. These things need to be done by this. And you regularly check in with them, go back to that situational leadership, give them lots of direction, lots of, you know, and, and eventually they may start to become intuitive and what it is you need them to do and get better. But, um, man, this is a deep, complicated thing to do and learn and get good at.
But I think the main thing is that. I, I think in ministry, we oftentimes don’t do a very good job of the hard work of detailed planning. [00:22:00] And I am, I hate details. I don’t like I don’t, I don’t like getting that detailed, but here’s what I have learned that I like, I like how much better we accomplish big picture ideas.
When we do the detailed planning. And so that’s where the visionary for me has gotten motivated to get better at this is I have big ideas and I want to see them done. And sometimes those ideas are so big that they can’t be done without good planning. Um, and, and so it’s one of those things you, you learn how to do, not because you like doing it, but because it helps you do the things you do want to do.
And so I would encourage you. And this is the thing you, you need to learn. We’ll probably talk more about this on another episode at some point, and probably bring somebody much better at it, like Baba and learning around here to talk about it. And, uh, but I think just beginning to think about it, I let my buddy Matt McNaughton, who was a church planter, went with me to Denver [00:23:00] and we did this exercise.
We had a moment where they had a great moment at the conference where I think every conference should. Uh, towards the end of the conference, they said, all right, go with your teams, pick three things and talk about for an hour, how you’re going to execute those three things. Cause you always hear the conference.
So we heard at the conference today, you don’t just put the notebook on the shelf, right? Make sure that this does something well, they like in the conference, they had a slate and time go with your team. Well, neither of me and my buddy, neither of us had a team there, just me and him. And he’s a church planter.
We went and I said, okay, what are your three things? Went to a room with a whiteboard. And I was like, awesome. Let’s for those out. Which one is most important to you? Awesome. Drew the four quadrants drew the four boxes. What are the four biggest things that if you broke them currently logically out need to happen in order for that goal to be accomplished.
So he listed them. I said, really cool. Okay. Is [00:24:00] that the way they list? If you, if you accomplish these four things. Accomplish that the big goal. And he said, yes. I said, okay, now let’s take quadrant one. The first one you got to get on working right now. When does that need to be done by the whole thing? The whole box.
He gave me a date. Okay. Let’s four boxes. And I just worked here. I just sat there and worked him through all of it on a whiteboard. And we did all three of those things. Well, he left with Al and I, and I did the okay. Who on your team could own that, right? You’re not owning it. Yeah. Who on your team? Could you send an email to you by the time we’re done today and assign this to and say, we’ll talk about it more.
When I get back, when I land and parlor, here’s man, we’re coming to the end of our cup, but here’s something that talking to him. I realize part of it is his, his number two guy at his church is not a visionary guy at all. And if you’re a visionary and you go to a conference, you’re going to come back with a thousand ideas and you’re going to overwhelm your staff.
And I [00:25:00] S and he told me that that happens, right. That he’ll go to something like this. So go back home. And all of a sudden he overwhelms his number two guy, and it just stresses him out. I said, this pill, your number two guy will love this. You come back with three huge ideas. It’s, it’s going to stress him out, but you come back with, Hey, here are the three huge ideas.
We’ve broken. All three of them down into the four big things that need to happen. And we’ve broken the first one down into some steps, and who’s going to own those. That guy’s going to be like, yeah, we’ll be happy. Yeah. Just a glorious moment for that guy. Uh, and so, so he went back with that. He was able to present to his team.
Here’s where we’re trying to go. And here’s what we’re trying to get done. And dah, dah, and here’s the deal? That whole process. It’s not, it’s not gospel, it’s not Bible, so you can change it, adjust it however you need, but just take time to think through well, how to accomplish the mission and vision that got it.