Friday, September 8, 2017

Community News 9/8/17


Nehemiah 2:11-18 / Proverbs 16:3

Getting Started

The most valuable resource each of us has is time. You can’t buy more of it. Once you’ve invested time into commercializing one idea, there is no way to go back and allocate it to a different one.

Unfortunately, we often think of an “innovative professional” as someone who constantly is jumping from one idea to another. We picture them at desks stacked with projects in mid-completion. This isn’t being innovative – it’s wasting time.

Steve Jobs famously said, “Great artists ship.” However, the solution is not to simply finish every idea that you come up with, but to be very deliberate about how you iterate on them.

The key is to break your big vision down into discrete steps, then make sure you are validating your core hypothesis at every step. As you progress, ideas that continue to validate your hypothesis remain in focus and moving toward completion. For those discrete steps that fail, you either iterate on the vision or kill the project. Remember, your time is incredibly valuable. Don’t continue to invest in an idea that won’t work.
In today’s Scripture, we are going to look at the story of how Nehemiah starts to fulfill his dream of restoring Jerusalem. While I believe the entire book of Nehemiah would make a great MBA case study, we are going to focus today on just a few verses as we wrap up this study. (If you read the entire book, you’ll see many of the principles we’ve explored.)

When Nehemiah hears about the terrible conditions of Jerusalem from his brother, he stops, prays, and ultimately approaches his boss (the King) about going to restore it. After getting approval and resources from the King, Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem. He spends three days investigating the situation, finishing up with detailed due diligence by inspecting the wall carefully in the middle of the night.

This is the lesson I want to focus on today. Nehemiah does his homework before he starts talking to people about his vision and recruiting them to collaborate with him.

As a venture capitalist, I’m constantly having people pitch me ideas for their businesses. The most frustrating pitches are full of vision but with no evidence to back them up. I ended up hanging a sign on my office wall that says, “The facts are outside the building.”

In other words, the important information about your idea won’t be discovered simply by brainstorming in a conference room at your office. Get out of your building and do interviews or focus groups or pre-sales to try and see if any of those magical people we like to call “customers” are interested in your solution. No matter how smart and creative the idea you have is, you should ground that vision in the reality of the marketplace.

Once you’ve got it, take that feedback from the market and use it in your narrative to recruit people to join your cause. When Nehemiah starts telling people why he’s arrived (after his three days of diligence), he weaves the things he’s observed and experienced up to that point directly into his message.

You have been working and praying through your vision over the last few days. Now it’s time to get started!
·       Leave the building and talk to people about your ideas.
·       If you validate your critical assumptions, start recruiting people and resources.
·       Support your story with evidence for what you’ve learned.

If you do this, you will build products and services that make the world the way it ought to be. Just as or even more important, you will find more purpose in your career by moving closer to a reflection of God’s innovative heart.

Adapted From: Redefining Work - You Version