Collaborative work space

How much difference does it make where you work? The environment, space layout, sound, visual cues? The social interactions? The commute? The inspirations or distractions? The tools and resources?

I’ve just joined a new coworking collaborative – The Grove Dallas, a new ad-venture growing from The Grove New Haven. This has been described as the next stage of evolution from the home office and the coffee shop office. A great alternative model is the likes of Union – which is an intentional community formed from the base of a purpose built coffee shop.

What I like about The Grove is it’s intentionality around collaboration. While I may not be working on many “group projects” I do value having creative innovators close by so that I can gather inspiration, input and feedback from them. I enjoy hearing what other people are doing, which may be completely unrelated and yet somehow sparks something in me that does propel my project forward. And there are often synergies that develop – the whole being greater than the sum of its parts – that kind of thing. If I’m not in this kind of environment, then how can I have that experience?

Since I started my business in February I have largely been working from home, squatting in coffee shops like Panera and Starbucks. I attend networking meetings and do my 30 second commercial at the chamber of commerce, Netweavers, etc. I joined Success North Dallas, which is a collection of highly successful and motivated folks. All of these are good places to meet people and make connections for business referrals. I have not experienced them to be great places to develop collaboration. That may say more about me and my work style than anything. Either way, I haven’t been getting what I needed.

I just started reading a book by Bill AuletDisciplined Entrepreneurship. On nearly every page I find something that makes me to a head slap and realize I would have been more productive, efficient or effective if I’d read this book a year ago (or 15…) Among those insights is the critical importance of finding partners for a successful business venture. Aulet argues that the most viable endeavors are not solopreneurs. Partners bring added insights, corrective input, energy and enthusiasm, etc. One of the things that I have had trouble finding since starting this venture is a few good partners. I have had numerous generative conversations, but all have stopped short of full-fledged collaboration. I have already seen that The Grove is a perfect place for generating these very relationships.

I don’t know how long I’ll work here, or where it will lead. What I do know is that the investment of self – to say nothing of time, energy, effort, and money – is already paying dividends. AND I know that wherever my path leads, this community and what it is teaching me will bear fruit for years to come.

Discerning, Choosing and Acting with limited information and limited control

Download Discerning, choosing and acting with limited information and limited control
We often are faced with situations in life where we feel a need to choose and act without all the information and answers, and where various elements are beyond our control. At the same time, we do not want to be reactive or reactionary. We believe faithful and fruitful require us to consider, pray, reflect, discuss, discern, choose and act as best we can, individually and collectively, “trusting God with the rest” whatever that may mean. One way of building our capacity for this discernment work is through the Ignatian Prayer of Imagination. In this prayer method, we hear a biblical story and place ourselves within it, thinking, feeling, sensing, and experiencing it. Most often Ignatius invites us to pray with stories of Jesus acting in the world. At other times we are with Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and the disciples, as they respond with a Yes to God’s call on their lives. We can also learn from those in the Hebrew Scriptures who were called to make choices in the world and trust God along the way. Following are some scripture passages with which to practice this form of prayer. You might use them, one each day, Monday through Friday, or take several days to hear, experience and discern the wisdom in a particular text for you. You may also select texts of your own choosing – keeping in mind that this form of prayer is more effective when used with stories than with lessons, teachings, rules or theological discourses. Other resources may be found at:;; . For more reflection on Choosing and Discernment, see Joseph A. Tetlow, SJ, beginning with this prayer:

A Week of Abraham and Sarah
Abram is called to Journey – Genesis 12:1-9
Abram, Sarai and Pharaoh – Genesis 12:10-20
Abram, Sarai and Hagar – Genesis 16
Abraham, Sarah & three visitors – Genesis 18:1-15
Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Hagar & Ismael – Genesis 21: 1-21

A Week of Moses
Birth and childhood of Moses – Exodus 2:1-10
Moses – Prince of Egypt – Exodus 2: 11-15
Moses from prince to shepherd – Exodus 2: 16-25
Call of Moses – Exodus 3:1-14
Moses negotiates with God – Exodus 4

A Week of Exodus
Israelites at the Red Sea – Exodus 14
The Israelites Thirst – Exodus 15:22-27; 17:1-7
The Israelites Hunger – Exodus 16
Israel measures the challenge – Numbers 13
Israel rejects God’s invitation – Numbers 14

A Week of Women
Tamar – Genesis 38
Deborah – Judges 4
Ruth – Ruth 1
Esther – Esther 4
Judith – Judith 8

“Breaking Bad” habits that keep your organization from growing

Whether it is a business, a non-profit, or a faith community, all organizations share similar rules and principles in leadership and dynamics. Across the scope of systems, leaders need to lead. People behave in predictable ways regardless of the group or organization, from a family or club all the way up to a nation. Family Systems Theory provides an excellent framework for understanding why people behave as they do in groups, and what each individual and the collective can do to begin making steps toward healthier attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and actions, i.e. habits.

This article by Carey Nieuwhof outlines 8 reasons that churches fail to break the 200 barrier. All of them are rooted around habits – repeated behaviors that do not require conscious thought to be continued – and do require conscious thought and significant effort to be changed. He offers a clear list of leadership and organizational structure habits that hinder growth because they are designed to maintain the status quo.

Here are 8 reasons churches who want to grow end up staying small:

  1. The pastor is the primary caregiver.
  2. The leaders lacks a strategy. 
  3. True leaders aren’t leading. 
  4. Volunteers are unempowered. 
  5. The governance team micromanages. 
  6. Too many meetings. 
  7. Too many events and programs that lead nowhere. 
  8. The pastor suffers from a desire to please everybody.

Habits by nature are designed to maintain the status quo – that is their job. Inertia pulls us back to old habits when we attempt to develop new ones.

In a business setting, we might rephrase them thusly:

  1. The leader is the primary doer. 
  2. The leaders lacks a strategy. Many leaders have great products/services and great ideas but no clear sense of how to get them to market, or  how to grow over the stages of the business life cycle.
  3. True leaders aren’t leading. Often businesses fail for lack of a COO – someone who can get the ideas and products to market and organize resources.
  4. Employees are unempowered. Even if you are paying them, your workers still need other motivations, such as empowerment, responsibility and accountability.
  5. The governance team micromanages. If owners and managers have to control or approve every decision, then you are limited by their capacity for time, by their creativity, and by the demotivating effect this has on employees.
  6. Meetings. Some organizations have too many, others have too few. I have worked with clients who complain they never get time with their supervisor. This can be just as debilitating as too many meetings. The solutions is the RIGHT meetings for the RIGHT reason, with the right agenda and actions – all that build capacity.

These 8 cultural markers need to be understood. Knowledge is only half the answer. These are habits, which are not changed by information, but by conscious decisions and actions repeated over time, with whatever support is necessary. This may be coaching, or a peer learning community, or both.

We can help you live a more Synchronous Life. Contact us for a free consultation to explore what strengths you have that will enable you to successfully face your challenges.