They are usually standing in our fantastic Collaboration Studio or InnovationLab space in Dallas, Texas. These spaces have all our tech tools, whiteboard, magnetic walls, sound systems as well as a fantastic view and neighborhood to enhance the experience.
Now it is true that we conduct some of our programs away from Dallas. All of our European Leadership Network programs are held in Europe. Occasionally we hold a gathering “off site” either due to space concerns or for a particular learning experience goal.
And in a rare instance for one of our areas we do gather a more localized set of teams.
But some years back we ran a simultaneous in some of our focus areas of a local versus national approach. In all cases the national group made better progress and had better results.
Why is that?
I can think of at least three reasons:
1. The larger field yields a higher quality team to participate. This one is just the law of large numbers. If your team is chosen from 300,000 churches nationally rather than 3,000 local churches it is more likely that the whole group will be higher performers.
2. “Homogeneity deadens creativity.” If all the teams come from a smaller regional context, they “know” what works in their region. They won’t be cross pollinated by church teams from other regions and from other cultural contexts. We find that ideas get transmitted West to East, East to West, North to South, and all around because we try and build national teams with diverse traditions into our groups. Opening oneself up to these perspectives drives real innovative thinking.
3. The power of weak-ties theory. While I won’t take space here to explain all of our intellectual underpinnings, the theory holds that you will most likely learn new things from new people. I told someone recently that having a group of churches together that sort of know each other but not real well allows everyone to tell the best stories about themselves and put the best face on the things they are doing well. Your neighbors probably know better.
At the same time as trust builds you are more willing to tell a national group of 12 teams from other cities what is NOT working well and the potholes you have hit in the road.
So yes, our national group experiences like Leadership Communities and InnovationLabs do require lots of people, including most of our directors, to travel on a regular basis to the gatherings. And that adds cost. No question.
But the results and the experience are enhanced and amplified because of it.
So check out our latest Leadership Communities and InnovationLabs here. Click in if you are interested. One of our directors or team members will be in touch to see if you qualify.