So the innovation versus renovation conundrum is still driving my thoughts this morning. I’m reading a book, Renovate Before You Innovate, by Sergio Zyman that really illustrates the value of both, but especially doing the innovation AFTER you renovate. His premise: Know your core principles, values, strengths and then you MIGHT consider tinkering. His thought is that “Doing the New Thing might not be the Right Thing.” Neither he or I aren’t advocating against risk taking and daring to do something different. The suggestion is not that we figure out what new idea we can propose and pass off on people, but that we answer what people’s needs are.
Sometimes what I think I need and what I really need are two very different things, but, wow, with a birthday coming I would really love an Apple iPad. I sat next to someone in a meeting and couldn’t keep my hands off of it. I think I just might need one. We call Apple innovative, but they are really renovative. They start with what consumers want versus what they can make and hope people will buy. Renovators start with known needs and are adaptive. Innovators can get so far outside the box that they are answering questions that nobody is asking and that is called futility.
Remember “New Coke”? Well, Sergio Zyman was in charge of introducing it, and it was a flop. Rather than building on Coca Cola’s strengths (“Good Bones”) of authenticity, continuity, and stability; the folks at Coke decided to counter the Pepsi Challenge by innovating and ended up destroying real Coca Cola and came up with a Pepsi-Look-A-Like that was a flop. In Zyman’s words, “What we really should have been doing was giving consumers a reason to drink Coke instead of mindlessly repeating that Coke was part of their life or that it was an advertising icon.” Gosh, sounds like the UMC and many institutions that are trying to decipher the 21st century terrain. Coke reconnected with its customers and 72 days after “New Coke’s” introduction, they went back to the original formula. They innovated and failed. They renovated and succeeded!
Renovation isn’t doing different things; i.e., rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Renovation is doing better things with your strengths, building better things out of existing things. Renovation starts with the assets that are already on hand and delivers a product that people desire. Innovation starts with trying to find out what a company can make and then hopes somebody will buy it. It’s a lot easier to sell what you know you can make with existing assets to people you already know who need what you’re offering.
Does our world still need the Gospel? Well, yeah. Take a look around. The need is evident, but what day is easiest to travel around the city streets of Columbia? Sunday. So what are our core values and strengths that can help us renovate the church? I could answer in a lot of ways, but I’m just going to pick one for today – Community. Facebook isn’t community although it’s better than nothing. Nothing better meets the yearning of one soul to know another soul than real face-time. Communities of faith can provide the small groups, the worship experiences, the festivals, block parties, Bible studies, and pot-luck suppers to help people meet one of their most basic needs: community. What is your faith community’s greatest strength? Offer it and say “Hello!” to relevancy and give people a reason to drink from the Gospel waters!