Be Flexible

I was going back through my notes on some of the production staff meetings we’ve had over the years, and came across the very first value we talked about: be flexible.

In that era, I had been having quite a few conversations with our creative arts team and our pastors about the production team being flexible, and so it was something I thought worth talking about as a team. Fast forward 5 years and it was still a relevant conversation at our latest staff meeting.

So what does “be flexible” mean?

If I want to be flexible in the moment, during a service when something unplanned for happens, I need to be prepared with everything else as much as I can.

This means a couple of things. One is, whatever I can know, I want to, and I want to know it on Thursday (or some day that isn’t when the service is happening). I want as much time to work out the knowns so that I have capacity for the unknowns when the time comes.

One key thing here is that if I need the information on Thursday, I need to communicate that to the people I need the information from. I also need to ask the questions that I need answers to. If people aren’t giving me the information I need to prepare, is it because I’m not asking for it?

This really helped me understand how to plan my time. I needed to spend as much energy on the things I already knew and finding out what could be known, so that I could have some margin for the crazy unknowable thing that comes up at the last minute. Make copies of the cue sheet on Friday so that I’m not wrestling with the printer right before rehearsal; line check the band set up before the band arrives so that we have already troubleshot every small issue; check the formatting of the graphics before the worship leader arrives so that we can make other changes that come up.

The flip side of this is that in reality I can’t know everything. While there is much that is similar each week, since we are doing a new service every 7 days,there are certain elements that we don’t really know how they will go until we see them. This took me a while to get used to. When I finally figured out that I should really go after the details of the 80% I can know, then I relaxed about the 20% that was unknowable until we got into it for real.

For most of us tech people, the idea of of being flexible means that we are letting the non-tech person off the hook of preparing. That certainly might be an issue, but really, true flexibility, flexibility that actually doesn’t crash and burn comes from maximum preparedness and collaboration.

Since our senior pastor is an avid sailor, this video clip is appropriate to demonstrate in the moment flexibility. Check out this video from the America’s Cup. Notice how not only New Zealand responds, but how the American boat reacts in the moment.



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