Good Policy Matters

Imagine the scene.  You are at a dinner party with several of your good friends.  Let’s assume it’s a fancy dinner party… the dinner is served on the fine china, the good silverware is lined up perfectly, the entire setting is beautiful.  And the children are running all over the house screaming at the top of their lungs, throwing baseballs, and the 3 year old is crying because her brother just dumped the ant farm on her head.  All this fits together right?

Of course not.  That would seem crazy to have chaos in the midst of order.  You wouldn’t let children run around doing whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it.  That’s why we have rules of behavior.  Things you should and shouldn’t do in certain settings.  We’d probably all agree that we wouldn’t want to go to that kind of dinner party, so why would we want to run a business this way?

What?  That’s right.  None of us want to work for a place where there are no rules.  It sounds like fun for a while, but eventually someone ends up with an ant farm dumped on their head.

I’m really not a “policy guy”.  As a matter of fact, I much prefer freedom over policy.  However good policies are really, really, really important. Here are a few examples.

1)  You should have a good hiring policy. – Hiring people (and firing people, by the way) is a big deal.  A lot happens when someone joins or leaves an organization.  Lots of people have to do stuff.  Security, IT, Finance, HR, Facilities, Communications, all probably have to do things when someone joins staff.  Now, I’m not saying that you have to give a full month’s notice before a new person starts, but a realistic “heads up” is nice.  Every company operates differently, but let’s just say it’s easier to prepare for a new employee if you have a full week  than if you find out the day the person starts.  And that happens.  All the time.  Everywhere.  It probably took you a while to find the right person to hire.  I’m guessing the world won’t come to an end if they don’t start until NEXT week.  I know you’re excited about this “perfect hire” you just made, and we’re all super excited to meet him/her;  but it will really help everything if we have a desk, chair, computer, paperwork, and maybe even a nice desk lamp for them when they arrive.  Otherwise we are sticking them in the closet for a week.  Nobody likes being stuck in a closet.

2.  You should have a good financial policy. – We’ve all been late on expense reports.  It happens.  But it shouldn’t happen all the time because your financial people will blow a gasket.  And they should.  It’s their job to take care of the money, and by the way that’s also your job.  Good financial practices are there to protect you and the organization.  If you let people do whatever they want with money eventually one of your employees is going to take the credit card and buy a circus.  Unless your core business is, well… I don’t know… the circus, this is a bad thing.   Financial people can be considered control freaks.  It’s not because they don’t like the circus, it’s because if they are good financial people, they will often have to show what they are doing to even bigger control freaks called auditors.  These people WILL blow a gasket if they find “circus” on a reimbursement.  So listen to your financial people.  They are there to keep you safe from scary auditors.

3)  You should have a good IT policy. – Look, no one wants to change their passwords.  You’ve used the same one for the past six years and it’s written on a sticky note on the side of your monitor.  Eventually though someone is going to get into your account and either 1) send viagra ads to your friends, 2) post embarrassing pictures on your Facebook wall or 3) steal confidential employee data.  Yeah.  These are all bad.  So, take care of your computer.  Follow whatever policies that your IT people have in place.  Trust me.

These are just a few and there are plenty more. You might also consider things like a social media policy, a facility use policy, a policy around intellectual property, etc.  So now that I’ve made the case that policy can be a good thing, let’s talk about the arch-nemesis of “Policy”.  Meet… “The Exception”

Merriam-Webster defines Exception as

ex.cep.tion noun \ik-?sep-sh?n\ – a case to which a rule does not apply

We all know “The Exception” as the guy who shows up at the formal office Christmas party in pajamas. No rule applies to him/her.  This person usually works in sales.  Regardless, the exception’s only function in life is to kill policy.

You have policy so that you can have order.  And here is the kicker.  Everything is not an exception.  Let me say that again.  Everything is not an exception.  If it is…policy is dead, the exception has won, and someone just sent viagra emails AND bought a circus.  All jokes aside, this is a big deal.  Policies need to be followed.  If everything is an exception, then you really have no policy and everyone does whatever they want.

So you ask… “What if I have a policy, but nobody follows it?”  Well, now you’ve got one of two things going on.  Both are bad, BUT both can be fixed.  Either your policy is the wrong policy OR someone in the organization needs to enforce it.

Let’s start with having the wrong policy.  If people are constantly “the exception”, take a good hard look at the policy.  Is it fair?  Is it realistic?  Do people need more training to be able to do this?  Start with you.  Ask people how they feel about the policy.  Get good feedback.  Correct where necessary.  Constantly improve.

If you’ve fine tuned the policy but it’s not being followed, you have another issue to solve.  In every organization, someone has to be the chief of police.  Someone where the buck stops.  It’s probably not you, and that’s okay.  Don’t try to become that person.  It will just frustrate you (because you don’t have the authority) and frustrate others (because they see it as a power play).  So find the person in the organization who CAN enforce policy and get them to understand why this is important.  Plead your case.  Explain the risks.  Make sense of it all.  If they value your input and value the organization, you have won the day.  If not, keep trying.  If it is important enough, it is your job to see it through.  If leadership is unwilling to do what is best for the organization, you have still done your part in making the organization better.  Sleep well at night.

So policy can be a good thing, but it’s not the best thing.  Above all, give grace…   None of us are perfect, and we’re going to mess up and be “the exception” from time-to-time.  Grace is huge.  Huge.  Always, always, always put people first.  Don’t let your policies rule you, let them guide you.  There is a big difference.  Grace make ALL good policy even better.  Remember Prov. 16:1-2 “We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.”

Where have you seen good and bad policies?  What is the worst policy you’ve ever encountered.  I’d love to hear about it!

Microsoft’s tablet strategy in disarray?

While I’m not yet a fan of Windows 8, I’ve tried to keep an open mind about Microsoft’s direction with their OS.  Especially when it comes to the tablet market.  Windows 8 seems to make sense if you are using a tablet or touchscreen computing environment.  With that being said, I found this article interesting about the lack of movement of Windows Surface.

Full Article from John Paczkowski at allthingsd.com

If Microsoft is being coy about revealing Surface sales data, it may be for good reason. Early demand for the company’s first tablet is lousy. How lousy? Put it this way: If Microsoft really did manufacture three million to five million Surface tabletsto sell in the fourth quarter, it’s going to have between two million and four million left over at quarter’s end.

Detwiler Fenton, a Boston-based brokerage firm, said in a research note today that Microsoft is likely to sell just 500,000 to 600,000 Surface RTs in the December quarter, far below its previous expectation of one million to two million. The reason: Microsoft’s tablet strategy is in “disarray.”

“Lack of distribution is killing the product,” Detwiler Fenton explained. “Mixed reviews and a [$499] starting price tag certainly don’t help, but lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and others is severely depressing sales.”

In other words, with Surface available for purchase only from Microsoft Stores — and those stores are few and far between — consumers are unlikely to ever see the device, which makes them far less likely to purchase Surface, particularly given its price tag. And with so many other tablets available, there’s not much reason to seek out a Microsoft Store, assuming there even is one in reasonable proximity. Currently, there are just 31 Microsoft stores and 34 smaller holiday kiosks in the U.S. Given that paucity of stores, the average consumer’s best chance of seeing Surface these days is on a billboard.

That leaves Microsoft in a tough spot. Will the company stick to its original plan and continue to restrict Surface sales to its own stores, or will it expand distribution to other outlets in the hopes of clearing out inventory and spurring demand?

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

What are your thoughts about Surface?  I admit that I don’t have any “hands on” experience yet with the device, and yes, even though I love my Macs, I am hopeful that Microsoft is competitive in the tablet (and desktop OS) space!

What do you think about Microsoft’s direction?  Surface?  Let me know your thoughts!

Don’t miss out on the 2013 Church IT Network Roundtable Events

Super pumped about how God is using this to connect technology people from all over the country.  Make plans to be there for one or both of these.

From the Church IT Network Page….  More information at http://www.churchitnetwork.com

2013 SCHEDULE Unveiled! 

In efforts to move our big National event from Spring to Fall (get away from Easter and Spring break and unpleasant weather in Northern States) we’re having 2 National events next year!

National Spring 2013 event >> 2/27-3/1 in Phoenix, AZ at Christ’s Church of the Valley http://www.ccvonline.com/Arena/default.aspx  Schedule will be a mix of training, workshops, presentations and peer roundtable discussion spread over 3 full days.  And like we started last Spring in Dallas, we’ll have a separate Web/Dev track again so be sure to invite your web/dev peeps!

National Fall 2013 event >> Week of Oct 20th (nailing down exact days still) in Kansas City, KS at Church of the Resurrection http://cor.org/  This event will also be a 3 full days of a mix of training, workshops, presentations and peer roundtable discussion.  This event will also kick our web/dev track through the roof by hosting Refresh Cache along side our Church IT Rountable event!  RefreshCache mirrors the DNA of our community so it was a no-brainer to host our 2 events together in 2013.

From the RefreshCache website …
The RefreshCache community is a group of connected web developers and designers from churches, businesses, and non-profits that leverage the power of Church Management Systems. Our purpose is to create an environment driven by innovation, collaboration, sharing, and openness. We seek to empower each other; to share ideas and code, and to shatter the traditional business dependencies on silos and secrecy that plague many ministry organizations today.

We believe that through our God-given talents in design and software engineering, we are in control of our own destinies. With innovation and collaboration, we can give birth to far greater things than a single church IT staff can alone.

More details to follow, but we wanted you all to get this on your calendars NOW!  You’ll want to be at BOTH events if at all possible, so get it in the budget and start convincing your boss now.  We had almost 300 in attendance at our Spring event in Dallas!  Wonder what will happen in 2013? :-)

Starting 2014 our schedule will be a Spring Regional Event (date will change each year based on Easter) followed by a big National Fall Event (late October timeframe).

We’re EXTREMELY pumped to have 2 events next year AND have the location and dates ready for peeps to put on calendars :-)

More info and registration link to follow …

Don’t marry who you love, love who you marry…

Great message this morning from Todd Wagner from John 13:34.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

If you are married (or single and want to be married), I’d challenge you to listen to the message.  You can find the whole thing here.   One quote that jumped out at me was that God doesn’t call us to marry someone that we “love”, He does however call us to love the one we marry.  Everything in our culture tells us that love is a feeling.  However scripture shows us that everything about love is an action, and has nothing to do with how we feel.  (See 1 Cor 13 if you need proof of this).  The American church loves to point at the outside attacks on the definition of marriage as if somehow we haven’t been doing the institution of marriage a disservice all along.  We may say that marriage is between one man and one woman, but what we’ve really been saying is that it is between one man and one woman… at a time…

The divorce rate among Christians is where the church needs to double down, and ask how well you are doing at loving the one you marry.  Is your marriage the kind of marriage that make people want to stop and ask about why you love that way even when it is hard?  Are you treating your husband or wife in a way that shows off John 13:34? There have been many times when I have loved poorly.  Sometimes spectacularly poorly.  I’m thankful that we serve a God who loves broken people and loves to heal marriages that seem spectacularly broken.

What has been the hardest thing for your marriage to endure and what are some creative ways you have learned to better love your husband or wife?

How To Hack Chipotle

For those of my friends who eat Chipotle on a regular basis (looking at you John Cox).  This is worth a read from thoughtcatalog.com.  You can find the original article here, by William Hudson.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/how-to-hack-chipotle/

If you’re reading this, you probably know. But do you know know? Sure, Chipotle is a big deal in your life. You appreciate what Steve Ells, the Steve Jobs of burrito making, has created. It’s not only a big deal, but a good deal, and you know that. But do you know how to make it the best deal? Here’s how.You can get both beans. You will be asked: “black beans or pinto beans?”. This is a Chipotle mind trick to make you believe it’s either or. Actually, it can be both and. Every single day, it can be both and, at no additional cost. Just tell them how it is.

You can get both beans (part 2). Execution is key. If you make your eventual position known from the start you’re going to lose this negotiation with Chipotle. Don’t leave money on the table. Answer the question with just one type of bean, like “black beans, please.” Timing matters. Wait for the beans to be applied to the burrito, then say “can I have pinto beans too?” This method ensures two full scoops of both. At first, you may feel more comfortable acting as if you had not yet considered that you’d like pinto beans too, until just the very moment in which you requested them. You’re still testing the waters. Later, you’ll get tired of keeping up appearances and just execute emotionlessly on the dual-bean option with perfect timing. You’re a rational creature now.

1/2 meat + 1/2 meat = 3/2 meat. Forgetting is natural, like Chipotle meat, so let me remind you that when you add fractions you only add the top part, when the bottom part is the same number. Therefore, when you’re asked what type of meat, and you say “half chicken and half steak”, it should equal one serving of meat. But it never does. Because a scoop of meat is kinda just a scoop of meat, and nobody in Chipotle management has yet introduced new “half” scoops with which to more precisely address this perfectly legal request. So use it. IMPORTANT: Unlike with the beans, you should make your position on the half meats clear from the beginning, otherwise they charge you for “extra meat.”

Ask for fajitas in your burrito. They’re the grilled onions and peppers next to the rice and they’re hiding in plain sight. Why don’t they ask you if you want them every time, like rice, beans, and meat? I don’t know. Maybe they’re trying to keep them from you. Maybe they take you for a sucker. Say you want Fajitas too, and they’ll know that you know know.

Make an informed decision regarding the guacamole. Once you’ve gotten to this stage you’ve said yes to everything, except maybe one out of the three salsas. That’s permissible. You can’t sink the whole enterprise in liquid. But now the guacamole situation requires a real value judgment. Basically, you could get two whole avocados at the market for the price of one scoop. Consider ordering a burrito bowl, and adding your sliced avocado on top. Ultimately the guacamole decision is a value call and you have to look deep within your heart and wallet to make the decision that’s right for you. NOTE: If you forgo the meat, the guacamole is free.

Gift cards. Now it’s time to check out and also time to ask yourself: “What’s my highest-performing investment of the year?” The answer is Chipotle. From now until the end of the year, whenever you buy a $30 gift card, you can use that receipt to get a free burrito WITH ANYTHING ON IT through Jan. 2013. That is why I now have $180 of Chipotle gift cards, for myself. You see, it’s essentially a buy 4 burritos ($30), get one free deal. i.e. a 25% return on investment. Now you just have to use the gift cards through 2013, ideally running out of gift cards on Nov. 1st, 2013, when you can start investing in gift cards again.

The Chipotle app. This is the biggest life hack of all time. When you’re burrito hungry between the hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 4 p.m. to closing, chances are that you’re going to find yourself in line. But you don’t need a helicopter to avoid some traffic. Place your order on the app, and then go DIRECTLY to the cash register to pick up your order, sans waiting in line. This requires only 15 minutes of foresight to allow them to process your order, i.e. the typical amount of time it takes to get to Chipotle.