Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

 

What Happens When Leaders Disconnect Goals from Values?

Posted on: May 4th, 2017 by Hayim Herring No Comments

Disclaimer: Like many of my blog posts, this blog is about leadership and Jewish values. Examples that refer to President Trump are to illustrate enduring points about leadership.)

About nine months prior to the 2016 presidential election, I dramatically cut back on my news consumption. Many respected journalists and political experts refused to accept that candidate Trump was going to totally disrupt presidential campaigns and continued to seek “evidence” Trump eventually would behave more like a “normal leader.” Often, their analyses masqueraded as speculation and gossip. Post-election, some of the better journalists across the political spectrum have regained their footing and are working their investigative and analytical skills more critically about the nature of President Trump’s leadership. My interest in raising the question, “What kind of leader is Donald Trump?” comes trying to understand what Jewish wisdom has to say about a leader who consistently says and does one thing and then within a short time frame, does the opposite.

Not too long ago, we used to call this lying and, in my mind, it still is. Donald Trump redefined campaigning, just as he is redefining the office of the presidency, and it’s possible that more people like him will now consider running for public office. Politicians will devise their own strategies for dealing with someone like Donald Trump. But how can clergy use their public voice to express dismay over any leader who lies regularly about significant issues by asserting one position, only to withdraw it soon after?

Hayim Herring Consultant

Here’s a very relevant insight from an ancient sage, Rabban Gamliel, who lived in the first Century C.E. – a very politically active time in Israel. He said, “Not all who engage in much business become wise” (Avot 2:6, Sefaria translation). Though ancient, this rabbi’s insight sounds fresh. He warned against equating business acumen with overall wisdom. True, an experienced business person may have abundant talent in one specific area, but that experience does not automatically confer any virtues upon that individual. It’s the same as anyone who shows a level of athletic prowess or artistic brilliance. At a minimum, it means that they have a deep unique talent in at least one area of life. But excellence in one area of life does not automatically make someone wise or virtuous in other areas of life.

People like Donald Trump have built their reputations around being “winners.” Winning is a goal whose means are amoral, meaning that morality or other virtues, if they are at all considerations, are secondary to “winning.” Whether an amoral leader seals a “deal with the devil” or seals a “deal with the deity” (our better angels) is irrelevant. That doesn’t mean that values are unimportant, but such considerations are utilitarian means to the end of “winning.” If they help, fine. If not, that’s also fine. It’s winning that counts, not so much how you get there.

The drive to be a success in business is a goal, and goals lack inherent moral values. Some successful business people become truly wise and realize that success is a privilege to use in service of others. Some experienced business people never become wise enough to realize that winning for its own sake turns them into amoral leaders. And amoral leaders are likely to make a higher percentage of immoral choices. Why? Because whichever partner offers the better odds of achieving the goal of winning-regardless of beliefs they hold or reprehensible actions they’ve taken-is the best partner.

For my clergy friends: if you want to try to anticipate Trump’s next move, then try and think like a person for whom winning overrides moral considerations. Then, acting morally, have several scenarios that anticipate possible next moves and mobilize accordingly. As we might see more individuals with strong business backgrounds who believe that goals override values, seeking to unsettle the political establishment in future elections, remembering that, “Not all who engage in much business become wise” (Avot 2:6, Sefaria translation) is good advice to guide us in preparing for rocky political roads ahead.

Wanted: Greater Innovation, More Entrepreneurship

Posted on: January 5th, 2017 by Hayim Herring No Comments

More on: Leading Congregations in a Connected World: Platforms, People and Purpose
Now at a 40% Time-Limited Discount

This blog post is one of a continuing series on Leading Congregations in a Connected World: Platforms, People and Purpose, my newest book on congregations and nonprofits, co-authored with Dr. Terri Elton, Associate Professor Leadership at Luther Seminary. Whether We researched and wrote about Jewish and Protestant congregations and nonprofits that are navigating a paradigm shift in minimizing more cumbersome, hierarchical ways of working and fostering more fluid and creative networks to advance their missions.

Are innovation and entrepreneurship the same?

Innovation and entrepreneurship are significantly different although they’re often used interchangeably. Innovation means doing something that already exists in new ways or introducing something that is brand-new: either completely unprecedented or new for an organization although others have done it. Entrepreneurship is the ability to see and seize new opportunities. It’s also having a start-up and bootstrap mentality- using limited resources to test ideas until you decide to scale them up or close them down.

What are examples of “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” that illustrate the difference?

An innovator might work at improving “religious (or Hebrew) school” by introducing a new curriculum or a new professional development program for Jewish educators. An entrepreneur will look at the paradigm of religious school, determine that it needs to be replaced and change it to an after school Hebrew immersion program. By discarding the reigning paradigm and its assumptions, everything – from curriculum to fees, will not only be new but also evolve rapidly because there is no template for it. Skilled entrepreneurs will continue to see additional opportunities to improve this paradigm and scale it, and identify other ways to expand its impact and possibly create new start-ups, for example, focused on developing teacher talent for this new paradigm and providing experiential learning for families.

Can Denominations Innovate?

Each denomination has innovated at various times. For example, Reform Judaism has innovated in Jewish music and social justice; Conservative Judaism in its approach to Jewish law as both evolving and binding; Orthodox Judaism on its emphasis on the compatibility of traditional text study and secular learning. The Reconstructionist Movement is entrepreneurial in its ability to perceive new opportunities but has had to rely de facto on other denominations to scale them because of its relatively small numbers. Chabad is truly entrepreneurial because it consistently leads in identifying new opportunities and scaling them globally.

What About Nonprofits and Congregations on the Local Level?

In our book, we identified four pathways to innovation or, more accurately, three innovative pathways that we believe any congregation or nonprofit can pursue. We also studied two entrepreneurial organizations, one congregation and one nonprofit. These four pathways are:
reiterating the role;
cracking the code;
fusing the model; and
breaking the mold.
Only the fourth one, “breaking the mold,” meets the criteria of entrepreneurial.

Should Congregations and Jewish Nonprofits Be More Innovative and Entrepreneurial?

To summarize, entrepreneurship involves both an organizational orientation and a skill set. An organization may periodically innovate, but may not be considered especially innovative. On the other hand, an organization is either entrepreneurial or it is not. It can’t be partially entrepreneurial because being “entrepreneurial” is an all-in commitment that is hard-wired into an organization’s DNA. Entrepreneurial organizations are structured “laboratories,” with ongoing experimentation, success, failure, learning and advancing.

Congregations and Jewish nonprofits need to be more innovative if they want to continue to have impact – just look at any study on established Jewish institutions within the past decade and the conclusion is clear. They are innovating, but the pace of innovation is too slow. But not every congregation and Jewish nonprofit can be entrepreneurial. Even if they could, it wouldn’t be desirable. Why? Congregations and nonprofits also play a critical role in helping people reflect on the value of change. they are places where leaders can ask, “Just because we can change values and traditions, should we? What do we gain and what do we lose?” But cultivating organizational cultures that support greater innovation in more established Jewish organizations, and supporting entrepreneurial Jewish organizations is the very desirable for the future of the Jewish community!

Some Things are Meant to Be—and Maybe Now is Your Time….

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014 by Hayim Herring No Comments

 

Last April, I read an Alban weekly newsletter about a collection of essays on Protestant seminary education, called Keeping the Faith in Seminary Education. This volume was edited Ellie Roscher, a Protestant, female millennial with personal seminary experience. Having worked for many years on rabbinical and continuing Rabbinical education, I was naturally intrigued by the topic. And I also know that Protestants and Jews have some of the same struggles in creating vibrant religious communities, so a collaboration on this kind of project would likely generate some new ideas. I didn’t know Ellie, but thought that there was no downside to tracking her down and learning more about her project. Yes – I admit that I was already thinking then about perhaps editing a book with her on rabbinical education.

Hayim Herring-WordCloud

Coincidentally or providentially, it turned out that she was moving back to her hometown in Minneapolis. Shortly after she arrived, we met in person. I can’t say that I expected that she would agree at our very first meeting to be involved in co-editing and writing a part of a book. But I guess that some things are meant to be, and not only Ellie, but her publisher, Andrew Barron of Avenida Books, also quickly came on board.

 

So here is your chance: especially in light of the Pew Study, if you are a rabbinical student, rabbi, or educator of rabbinical students or rabbis, we want to hear your unmediated voice on the nature of rabbinical education. Please click here to find out how you can potentially contribute an essay to a volume that needs to be written—I hope that I’ll catch you at one of those moments of interest, just like Ellie’s volume found me. And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

 

Thank you, Rabbi Hayim Herring

 

P.S.-for Ellie’s version of the story on our collaboration, visit her blog. And—first we wrote our own recollections of our meeting and only then did we read one another’s posts. Uncanny how similar and still distinctive they are!

 

 

Leadership in a Time of Flux

Posted on: February 2nd, 2012 by Hayim Herring No Comments

By Colin_K on Flickr

The recently concluded World Economic Forum‘s 2012 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland has posted the uncurated library of content, blog posts, tweets, videos and more from the meeting on its website.  One session that caught my eye was titled “The Davos Debrief: Leadership and Innovation Models.”

This session discussed how leaders are usually held accountable for not dealing effectively with crises, “when the real problem is the failure of organizational structures to respond to newly developing situations.”  It highlighted the Eurozone debt crisis, noting that while Europe has “plenty of leaders,” its existing organizational structures are not capable of handling these unanticipated problems that the EU is now facing.  In other words, they weren’t built to adapt to radically different realities.

(more…)

Remixing in Your Synagogue

Posted on: July 5th, 2010 by Hayim Herring 10 Comments
Unique, break-through inventions are very difficult to achieve. Most innovations are not completely “innovative.” Rather, they build upon and incorporate prior efforts, while adding some new features. In a recent article in Fast Company Magazine by Farhad Manjoo, entitled The Invincible Apple, the author notes that Apple’s claim about making revolutionary projects is somewhat overstated. Manjoo writes,

To use a musical analogy, Apple’s specialty is the remix. It curates the best ideas bubbling up around the tech world and makes them its own. It’s also a great fixer, improving on everything that’s wrong with other similar products on the shelves.

Think of some the great big Jewish programs that seem to have burst upon the scene: Taglit-Birthright Israel, PJ Library, Moishe House and most recently, Hebrew Charter Schools. The quote above about “remix” can just as easily apply to these initiatives. Taking young adults to Israel, parents reading books to children, young adults who share something in common living together and acting on their values, charter schools—none of these are completely unique. But, they are conceptually brilliant because they are simple, powerful, elegant and well-executed. (Full disclosure: I have work and continue to consult for some of the philanthropists behind these ideas.)
Now, consider some of the work that your congregation does: adult learning, youth work, prayer. Without new resources, is there some area of congregational life that lends itself to a “remix?” Have a discussion with your staff and volunteer leaders, and see what emerges. Remember—“big ideas” can start with a series of small changes that don’t involve new funding! Please share your thinking with readers of Tools for Shuls. I’m eager to hear from you.
Thank you,
Rabbi Hayim Herring

Courtesy of Apple

Unique, break-through inventions are very difficult to achieve. Most innovations are not completely “innovative.” Rather, they build upon and incorporate prior efforts, while adding some new features. In a recent article in Fast Company Magazine by Farhad Manjoo, entitled The Invincible Apple, the author notes that Apple’s claim about making revolutionary projects is somewhat overstated. Manjoo writes,

“To use a musical analogy, Apple’s specialty is the remix. It curates the best ideas bubbling up around the tech world and makes them its own. It’s also a great fixer, improving on everything that’s wrong with other similar products on the shelves.”

Think of some the great big Jewish programs that seem to have burst upon the scene: Taglit-Birthright Israel, The PJ Library, Moishe House and most recently, Hebrew Charter Schools. The quote above about “remix” can just as easily apply to these initiatives. Taking young adults to Israel, parents reading books to children, young adults who share something in common living together and acting on their values, charter schools—none of these are completely unique. But, they are conceptually brilliant because they are simple, powerful, elegant and well-executed. (Full disclosure: I have worked and continue to consult for some of the philanthropists behind these ideas.)

Now, consider some of the work that your congregation does: adult learning, youth work, prayer. Without new resources, is there some area of congregational life that lends itself to a “remix?” Have a discussion with your staff and volunteer leaders, and see what emerges. Remember—“big ideas” can start with a series of small changes that don’t involve new funding! Please share your thinking with readers of Tools for Shuls. I’m eager to hear from you.

Thank you,

Rabbi Hayim Herring

New Rituals: You Won’t Believe This One!

Posted on: December 3rd, 2009 by Hayim Herring 8 Comments

Last week I asked you to share new rituals that you had heard about. Thank you for responding! While some of you responded on this blog, others wrote to me through Facebook or Twitter. Aren’t social media wonderful for purposes like these?! In no particular order, here is a summary of your ideas, plus a few of my own:

• Rabbi Mel Glazer: has an entire service on Blessing of the Pets, which he instituted years ago on Parashat Noach; many Synaplex™ synagogues have done so as well.
• Gary Stern: suggests creating an “Ally of the Jewish People” ritual, for someone who hasn’t formally converted to Judaism, but wants to actively participate in the life of the Jewish community.
• Rabbi Daniel Alter: bat mitzvah in the Orthodox community and zeved ha-bat (ritual for naming a new-born Jewish girl). Rabbi Alter notes that within the Orthodox community, many new or recovered rituals have been inspired by Feminism.
• Additionally, there has been a growth of rituals outside of the Orthodox for girls and women, GLBT Jews, and bedtime rituals for children.
•  Lighting a yellow candle for Yom ha-Shoah, invented by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs: tinyurl.com/ykevgax.
• From Rabbi Mordechai Rackover: at the secular synagogue in Tel Aviv they make Havdallah between Yom ha-Zikaron and Yom ha—Atzma’ut.; Also from Rabbi Rackover: Men going to mikva on the same day their wives do (in observance of the laws of family purity).
• Developing non-Orthodox Chevrah Kadisha groups which are based in synagogues or the community-see Kavod v’Nichum, an organization that has lead this initiative: www.jewish-funerals.org.
• Creating just workplaces in kosher restaurants and providing a certificate attesting to it: www.utzedek.org/tavhayosher.
• Sending e-greeting cards for Jewish holidays, often with decent artwork.
• Holding an ecological Tu b’Shevat Seder.
• Holding a Tikkun Leil Shavuot—something that has taken root outside of the Orthodox community.

And, I also heard a few miscellaneous comments worth noting:
• A number of people recommended www.ritualwell.org, which is an excellent user-generated resource for new lifecycle rituals. (You can also find out about the history of the “orange on the seder plate” ritual there.) Also, a few people said that they search the Reform Movement’s website: www.urj.org.
• Rabbi Kerry Olitzky found that men are not experimenting with rituals in the same way that women are.
• Jonathan Freed wrote: “My father purchased me from our Orthodox synagogue for $1 following my Brit Milah,”—is anyone familiar with this one?

Thank you for your help and I’ll be doing further analysis in article that I’m writing about ritual. So—if you remember additional ones, please don’t hesitate to add to the list.

Rabbi Hayim Herring

The Challenge of Innovation and Communication!

Posted on: January 30th, 2009 by Hayim Herring 5 Comments

Here’s one of my favorite stories about the challenges of communicating:

A lawyer was interviewing a man regarding his decision to divorce his wife, and asked, “What are the grounds for your divorce?”
He replied, “I have about 5 acres.”
“No,” he said, “I mean, what’s the foundation of this case?”
“It is made of concrete” he responded.
He said, “Do you have a grudge?”
“Yes,” he replied, “it can hold two cars.”
“Sir, does your wife beat you up?”
“Yes,” he said “several times a week she gets up earlier than I do.”
Finally, in frustration, the lawyer asked, “Why do you want a divorce?”
Looking perplexed, he answered, “My wife says I don’t communicate well.”

According to the Jewish tradition, God did not communicate with the Jewish people at Mount Sinai only once. Rather, the classical rabbis teach that every day God’s voice still emanates from Mount Sinai. (Pirkei Avot 6:2)

Without stretching this analogy, there is something important to learn from this rabbinic teaching: communicating once about critical matters is not enough. No matter how many times you think you have clearly explained a change-related matter, you probably need to continue working at it.

Often, there is a small cadre of people directly assigned with implementing a change and they’ve probably been working at it for some time. They are close to it and understand from the inside out. But, it probably took this group some time to gain clarity on their mandate for change. So if even those who are most intimately associated with the change require time to digest it, consider how much effort is really required to communicate on a broader level.

There are a few strategies that can help you communicate effectively:

When I Googled “communications strategies,” I received 36,800,000 hits—a sign of the challenge of communicating in a multi-media, information-saturated age. So here’s my question: what are the most effective means you’ve found to communicate a change?

Rabbi Hayim Herring