I don't like puzzles. Over the years, my extended family like many others, will set up a table over the holidays with a puzzle to work. This year was no exception. My sister set up a table with four chairs around it and laid out a puzzle of a festive scene. She asked me if I wanted to help and was surprised when I declined. The reason that I don't like puzzles is that I see them as just another problem to solve. I spend most of my time helping churches solve problems, and I really enjoy it. I just want the problems I solve to be worth solving
. I just don't count puzzles among things that need
a solution. But...
As usual, this episode started me thinking. I think that there is a lot that can be learned about ministry by examining how a puzzle is conceived, designed and completed. Have you ever tried to work a puzzle without a picture? It would not be pretty! How about taking the pieces out the box one at a time and placing them in the correct location without any context? It would be impossible. I want this simple analogy to illustrate the importance of each part of the process using terms prevalent in both business and ministries. This will involve the work of a Visionary, a Strategist, a Manager and a Worker which is in this case, a Puzzle Builder.
It all starts with a Vision
by the work of a person or group that acts as a visionary. A person who dreams up an image of the puzzle to be constructed and the number and shape of pieces it should have. From this point forward, the vision will be represented by the box cover.
Next, a Strategist
will devise an approach to take in order to make the vision a reality.
- This will involve carefully understanding the vision (the puzzle box) and the challenges present in accomplishing the project.
- Decide how success will be measured. (a completed puzzle on time)
- When will work begin and when should it be completed.
- Who should be involved in building the puzzle? Skill level? Abilities?
- What will the environment be like? Table, chairs, lighting etc...
- What approach will be used to complete the puzzle? Pieces facing up, edges first, divide pieces by color etc...
- Refer to the Vision as needed.
will then work to make sure that the strategy is implemented according to the plan. This must be done with the understanding that all of the puzzle builders have other jobs to do and that this project can't be completed at the expense of those jobs.
- Understand the value of the vision and the importance of the strategy.
- Choose a suitable location and arrange for everything to be ready.
- Schedule people to work on the puzzle at the right time.
- Educate and train the puzzle builders on the proper methods to be used.
- Monitor progress and make sure that work is proceeding according to the plan.
- Consult with the Strategist and Visionary as needed.
Finally, a Puzzle Builder
will go about the tasks of building the puzzle.
- Understand the value of the vision and the big picture of the strategy.
- Understand their individual role and responsibility.
- Perform their assigned tasks and complete the puzzle.
- Consult with the manager as needed.
You may notice that the vision and high level strategy is present in each step along the way. I believe that job tasks must be performed by a person with an accurate context of the bigger picture. By making this clear at every step, the puzzle (your grand initiative) will be completed.
I realize that this is making a big deal out of a pretty simple task and I know that no one actually goes through all of these steps to work a Christmas puzzle. In addition, in many cases, the same person may perform one or even all of the roles mentioned. I just wanted a good way to illustrate the differences in the carious roles of a project.
At the very least, I have found a useful purpose to building a puzzle!