Sunday, May 07, 2017

“the main textbook”: Built for change review number 10

builtforchange Here is the 10th review of my book, Built for Change. It is also the 1st review in a more academic publication (St Mark’s Review No. 238, December 2016 (4)).

It is easy to find leaders and books that espouse the need for creative thinking. It is rarer to identify proven processes and principles for implementation of change. Built for Change goes beyond rhetoric in order to explores case studies, theological reflection and reflective practice of how innovation can be collaboratively fostered. As an out-of-the-box thinker, Baptist pastor, and Uniting and now Presbyterian theological educator, Steve Taylor emphasises that innovation at its best is a collaborative team project, facilitated by systematic and careful process.

By the way, Taylor is also carefully well-structured in his writing – I plan to show this book to postgraduate students as a model of clear writing, easy to follow structure and practical theology from a reflective practitioner. Yet creativity is interspersed in Taylor’s writing – the book starts with an outro (explaining how Taylor’s work at Uniting College for leadership and theology drew to a close), and ends with an intro (as he began at Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership). The middle section of the book “Leading deeply” functions like a musical bridge to drive the themes deeper with theological reflection. He explores Jesus as innovator (and encourages KPIs – ‘Kingdom Performance Indicators’), evaluates case studies of how tradition can be reshaped to bring “fresh words and deeds”, and correlates theological models of leadership with the “Lead with your strengths” tool (useful for identifying what roles are present or missing in a team).

My favourite part of the book, however, is the foundational first section “Leading outwards” exploring case studies of change. Taylor explains how Uniting College and its faculty team was “built for change” while Taylor was principal, and how it established indigenous learning, young adult program and digital delivery. Taylor explains how he invested time in relationships, looked for partners for projects, and offered new ideas when the timing as ready. He grounds leadership in Paul’s example in I Corinthians 3 and 4 – as servants who listens, gardeners who plant diversity, builders who structure collaborative processes (for example, dreaming, brainstorming, clarifying, workshopping), resource managers who face reality, fools who jump out of boxes and playfully ask “I wonder”, and parents who parent (in contrast to the “paidagogos” or servant who is paid to walk a child to school and correct homework). He discusses how he sought to bring each model into his leadership, for example to listen by asking his team: “Tell me about your call, what about your work drains and replenishes your sense of call, and what do you do?” He also unpacks case studies of innovation facilitated by collaborative leadership in a rural community café, a community garden in Kings Cross and a creative worship resource incorporating the contextual work of 30 artists. The stories show that innovation is not best birthed from the hired holy guru, but emerges from within a group as they respond to local needs, or even ask their community to partner with and help them. Finally, Taylor offers innovation frameworks that complement his biblical models: Lewin’s force field, proposing experiments, anticipating the change curve, and progressing change through tacking.

The final section returns to personalised concerns of “Leading inward”. The chapter on time management suggested a few new tools beyond a handy “to do” list, including refocusing on call and the most important, beginning a big task at the end of the day to get the momentum going for the next day (and noting the next tasks to do), and utilising Evernote software. The chapter on “Leading limited” was brilliant in developing innovations from areas of weakness not just strength; for example, Taylor describes how he playfully took milk and cookies to classrooms to seek feedback from students on an issue the faculty were stuck on. Finally, Taylor discusses the leadership tools of journaling (including colouring and “Celtic knots”), breath prayer, asking the significant question “what could I do differently?”, and basic skills for chairing effective meetings.

Built for Change emerges out of thoughtful theological reflection, but Taylor also offers practical snippets such as this meeting checklist:
• How might the forming Scripture speak to the decision-making?
• Is the room aware of progress?
• Are all voices being heard?
• Are points of agreed decision clear?
• Are unresolved points named for ongoing work?

In previous books and papers by Taylor I have been inspired by the innovative approaches to church and theological education that Steve Taylor brings to his vocation – Built for Change lifts the lid on and helps make accessible the processes and thinking that he uses. These are not solely tasks for senior pastors or principals, but for team members who see a need or have the spark of an idea and are willing to serve/garden/build/manage/fool and/or parent it into reality. I will be returning to it for inspiration and ideas for my leadership and am already thinking of how to workshop the models as I teach missional leadership and congregational transformation. It will also likely become the main textbook for a new innovation and change management unit I am planning, offering as it does a unique mix of biblical models, innovation tools and case studies – all grounded in local Australasian contexts. I have personally ordered a dozen copies as presents for colleagues in theological education and mission training, so I think I can say with integrity that I count this as highly recommended.

This review was originally published in St Mark’s Review No. 238, December 2016 (4).

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here. Review 7 by Darren Cronshaw is here. Review 8 by Uniting Church Moderator, Sue Ellis, is here. Review 9, by American Lanny Vincent is here.

Posted by steve at 05:20 PM

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Unique mix of biblical models, innovation tools & Australasian case studies

builtforchange Here is a 7th review of my book, Built for Change. This one is by Rev Dr Darren Cronshaw. There is a longer, 750 word version, being submitted to an academic journal, but the highlight version reads wonderfully.

Built for Change goes beyond rhetoric and explores case studies, theological reflection and reflective practice of how innovation can be collaboratively fostered. As an out-of-the-box thinker, Baptist pastor, and Uniting and now Presbyterian theological educator, Steve Taylor emphasises that innovation at its best is a collaborative team project, facilitated by systematic and careful process. The book is a model of clear writing, careful structure and practical theology from a reflective practitioner. It will be recommended reading or textbook in some units I am writing and I have personally ordered a dozen copies as presents for colleagues in theological education and mission training, so I think I can say with integrity that I count this as highly recommended.

Darren Cronshaw
- Mission Catalyst – Researcher, Baptist Union of Victoria www.buv.com.au
- Head of Research and Professor of Missional Leadership, Australian College of Ministries www.acom.edu.au
- Pastor, AuburnLife Baptist Church www.auburn.org.au
- Adjunct Professor, Swinburne Leadership Institute

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here.

Posted by steve at 06:03 PM

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Mission Seedlings: 1/5th of what I’m currently working on

This pictures expresses 1/5th of the KCML Strategic plan. It is shaped by one insight: that the best place to train for mission is on mission.

nms-graphicver2

To quote Andrew Norton, Moderator of the PCANZ, “The Presbyterian Church Of Aotearoa is at a very critical time and desperately needs the development of leadership at every level in the church and more particularly in the creation of new and innovative forms of ministry in our changing times – we can not continue business as usual.”

KCML is thus looking to work in collaboration with a range of partners across New Zealand to establish New Mission Seedlings as places to learn in mission. This involves training leaders by engaging in local mission in order to attend to national priorities.

The strategic priority of New Mission Seedlings has been shaped by

  • KCML team retreats in December and March
  • external input from key stakeholders within the Presbyterian Church
  • discussion of drafts with Assembly Executive Secretary, KCML Advisory Board, Leadership Sub-committee, Presbyterian Development Society, a joint Leadership Sub-committee/PressGo/KCML working group, Northern Presbytery Council
  • pieces with Pacific leaders, Central and Alpine Presbytery, South Island Ministers, 150th Synod, Press Go Board
  • the 5 parts of the KCML strategic plan were “strongly endorsed” by Leadership Sub-committee in May
  • “enthusiastically endorsed” by Council of Assembly in June
  • received with excitement by Synod of Otago and Southland executive in July

Last week I reduced the pages of written documentation and powerpoint slides to one picture. That’s part of what I’ve been working on recently.

Posted by steve at 09:29 AM

Sunday, July 31, 2016

accessible yet substantial, incredibly helpful: Built for change book review

builtforchange Here is another review of Built for Change, by Peter Armstrong, a Uniting Church minister in Queensland. It is the first review to pick up on the creative (innovative) structuring of the book and to note the way that each part of the book offers differing ways into innovation, collaboration and leadership

Innovation is what Steve’s book is all about. Innovation, collaboration and leadership!

The sub-title of the book is ‘…a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership’ and it is very much born out of Steve’s own work and ministry in this area. Even the book itself is somewhat innovative in the way it is set out, beginning with the ‘final chords’ of an outro and concluding with an intro. Within the metaphor of music Steve takes the reader on a journey that he himself has travelled, into the experiences, observations and reflections of collaborative innovation in the context of leadership.

The three parts of his book (between the ‘Outro’ and the ‘Intro’) are (i) Leading Outward; (ii) Leading Deeply; and (iii) Leading Inward. Each part offers differing ways of looking into innovation, collaboration and leadership. Steve offers a biblical framework from 1 Corinthians 3 and 4 looking at six roles and actions – Servant (Listens); Gardener (Plants); Builder (Structures); Managers (Resource); Fools (Risk); and Parents (Guide). He tells the story of experiences on the ground of innovation, collaboration and leadership – both observed as well as engaged. He opens up a theology of connection where leadership theory can converse with theology. And he reflects on tradition as it provides the historical context and cultural values of innovation, collaboration and leadership within institutions and communities. The final section looks at the leader personally, and again from practice and principles, Steve offers wisdom and encouragement for anyone on this journey themselves.

I found this an incredibly helpful book in that it captures wonderings and provides ways to both reflect on and engage my own sense of call to these areas. It is easy to read, in that it is accessible in its form and language, but it is substantial because, for me, it has generated so much more wondering and visioning for what is ahead for me and the church that I call home. I certainly would recommend “Built for Change” to anyone who is wondering or seeking to practice ‘fresh words and deeds’ in this time when innovation, collaboration and leadership have much to offer our church and wider community. Thanks Steve for taking the time to put all of this into a book for others to glean.

“Built for Change” is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here.

Posted by steve at 10:41 AM

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Built for change: review by John Littleton for South Australian Anglicans

builtforchange Another review of my latest book Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership. This one was initially sent to Anglicans in South Australia.

Dear friends, I bring Steve Taylor’s new book to your attention and commend it. I enjoyed the holistic, collaborative and theologically reflective leadership demonstrated in this book. The book is a challenging and rewarding read. Careful reading provides evidence of a reflective practitioner at work. An account of adaptive leadership in practice is combined with a connectional theology of leadership and an analysis of Jesus the innovator as reported in the Gospels. The word innovation takes on a “Christological shape.” Chapter 8 is entitled “Leading myself” and introduces a section on practical and personal leadership strategies. The book shares stories and offers insight into a personal spirituality of change.

Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership explores the six strengths that change requires, and demonstrates that collaborative change is both practical and possible. Steve wrote ‘Built for Change’ around the concluding of his placement as Principal of Uniting College in the Adelaide College of Divinity in 2015 and transitioning into his new role as Principal for Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin, New Zealand.

“Built for Change” is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here;

Posted by steve at 09:31 AM