Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top 10 Lessons From The US Navy

Here is a fantastic post from Guy Kawasaki's blog: How To Change The World:

Very few people have the opportunity to experience life on a nuclear aircraft carrier up close and personal. Recently, I had the extraordinary experience of spending a day and a night at sea in the Pacific on board the USS Nimitz. I was part of a Navy outreach program to give ordinary landlubbers like me a perspective on the mission and operations of a naval strike group.

I was excited. Who would turn down a chance to get on top of a nuclear power plant driving 100,000 tons of steel through the ocean, with 5,000 men and women handling scores of aircraft, carrying thousands of pounds of bombs and missiles, burning thousands of gallons of jet fuel a day, with margins measured in inches, and tolerances of seconds? What could possibly go wrong?

As a Prius-driving, granola-eating, anti-gun, Left-Coast Californian, I do not fit the stereotype of the typical armed forces booster. I am inclined to favor green technology over weapons of mass destruction. But I discovered during my visit that many of us who are working in non-military organizations, and who may not have given a second thought to the Navy as a model, would do well to understand how a small city floating on the ocean works. From startup entrepreneurs to seasoned executives, we can learn a lot from the U.S. Navy, from the enlisted men and women as well as from the commanding officers.

When we got to the Naval Air Station on Coronado Island in San Diego, we received a quick slide presentation before we flew off to the Nimitz, a hundred miles or so off the coast. Then again, when we met with the admiral on the ship that evening, we got another slide presentation. There were five or six dot points on the powerpoint slides outlining the mission of the Navy, but frankly I can’t remember them all. All I can remember is the impression that, fundamentally, the mission of the U.S. Navy is to make the world safe. It’s a pretty ambitious objective. You may approve or disapprove of this as the best use of taxpayer money, but if you spend any time on a nuclear aircraft carrier, you have to admit they do a pretty impressive job.

During about thirty hours of immersion with sailors and pilots (and public affairs officers), I realized that were several principles at work that make the Navy so successful—principles that are not at all unique to running an aircraft carrier—representing important lessons for everyone interested in entrepreneurship, innovation, teamwork, and management:

  1. Inspiration: Having a big, meaningful goal is a tremendous force for inspiration, motivation, and cohesion. The Navy’s mission is not some vague, abstract, feel-good paragraph in a business plan; it is very concrete, and very easy to understand and internalize. In addition to defending America, fighting terrorists, and rescuing victims of piracy, the Navy takes enormous pride in their role in helping the tsunami victims in 2004, and in helping the Katrina victims in 2005. While everyone I talked with had his or her own particular story, everyone had a distinct and powerful pride in what they had accomplished and in the people around them. It was frankly astounding. Even in the best organizations, in my experience, such a core consistency of pride is extremely rare. Of course, most organizations don’t have a mission as inspirational as the U.S. Navy.
  2. Perspiration: If everyone buys into the goal, you can get an amazing amount of work done, including regular sixteen hour days with very low pay. The Nimitz does not offer a 9-to-5 workday. Some days, crews are on the flight deck for fourteen or sixteen hours, into the wee hours of the morning, inhaling noxious fumes and making sure every plane gets back safely. And then after the planes get back at midnight, the maintenance crew is still at work making sure the planes are ready for the next day. A maintenance chief told me that, given the age of the planes and the stress of carrier flying, it is typical that a plane requires twenty-five hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time. That seems inefficient, but the alternative is unacceptable. You don’t want to fly a plane that is anything less than 100 percent maintained.
  3. Teamwork: As much as the movie Top Gun created the impression that it’s about competing to be Number 1, the ethic in an actual operating situation is intensely about team performance. Watching the crews maintain, fuel, setup, and pilot F-18s for flight, it’s clear it’s not about who’s the hottest dog on the deck. Every single person counts on other members of the team to enable them to get their part of the job done, and no one person can take credit for success, or benefit from another’s failure.
To read the other 7 lessons click HERE.

Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

3 Critical Issues Facing The Church Right Now

For those of you who couldn't make it to the last Vision Youth Network I thought I'd offer a brief summary of what I spoke on.

With the pace of ministry nowadays its easy for us to feel like hamsters running madly on a hamsters wheel... going nowhere. Ministry is unlike most jobs where you can see results in a fairly short space of time. Building into people takes time.

Unfortunately, with this long wait to see the fruit of our labour, we can veer off course and end up never seeing the fruit we have been working so hard for.
It is for this reason that we must ensure that we are headed in the right direction.

With this in mind I see 3 major issues that we seem to be unaware of in our ministry:
1) Biblical Illiteracy
2) Cultural / generational semantics
3) Orthodoxy needs Orthopraxy

1) Biblical Illiteracy

A Barna study showed that of Christians, only 3% of under 25yr olds and 9% of over 25yr olds have a Biblical world view as determined by the following 8 criteria:
a) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
b) That God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator of the universe and He still rules it today.
c) Salvation is a free gift from God and cannot be earned.
d) Satan is real.
e) A Christian has a responsibility to share his / her faith in Christ with other people.
f) The Bible is accurate in all of the principals that it teaches.
g) Unchanging moral truth exists.
h) Moral truth is defined by the Bible.

2) Cultral / Generational Semantics

We live in an age of Truth Relavitism where there are no absolute truths. Truth is simply relative to some particular frame of reference. Hence we hear people say things like, '... that's true for you but not for me.'

So when you're communicating one thing your audience could be interpreting something different altogether!

Josh McDowell explains the difference in our younger generations semanitics compared to ours in the following chart which is from his book: The Last Christian Generation (pg22)


Your Understanding

(Adult Culture)

Postmodern Understanding

(Youth Culture)


Accepting others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices.

Accepting that each individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal.


Give due consideration to others beliefs and lifestyle choices without necessarily approving of them.

Wholehearted approving of others’ beliefs or lifestyle choices.


Embracing people for who they are, not necessarily for what they say or do.

Endorsing and even praising others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Moral Judgments

Certain things are morally right and wrong as determined by God.

We have no right to judge another person’s view or behaviour.

Personal Preference

Preferences of colour, food, clothing style, hobbies, etc. are personally determined.

Preferences of sexual behaviours, value systems, and beliefs are personally determined.

Personal Rights

Everyone has the right to be treated justly under the law.

Everyone has the right to do what he or she believes is best for himself or herself.


Being free to do what you know you ought to do.

Being able to do anything you want to do.


An absolute standard of right and wrong.

Whatever is right for you.

3) Orthodoxy Needs Orthopraxy

While people may have a grip on orthodoxy (right beliefs) it seems that very few have a good orthopraxy (right acions).
Numerous stastics from Barna and other researchers indicate that there is a minute difference in lifestyles and behaviour of Christians!

Once again out of Josh McDowell's book (pg17) The Last Christian Generation, we see that while 91% of Christians and 90% of non-Christians were satisfied with their ethics and character, that 63% of Christians had physical hurt someone in the last 12 months when they were angered (this is compared to 67% of non-Christians.
74% of Christians cheated on a test as compared with 76% of non-Christians.
The list could go on...

This all paints a grim picure.
I in know way feel that I have a substancial grip on the solutions but let me give you some of my preliminary thoughts:

1) The reason we have Biblical Iliteracy is due to a lack of discipline. People are too lazy to read the Word of God. They prefer spoonfeeding through 5 min devotionals or listening to the latest podcast etc.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control / discipline. (Gal 5: 23)
We need to ask God to work the fruit of the Holy Spirit into our lives.

We also need a new standard by which to live. Mirroring the world can no longer be acceptable!
And with this we need higher levels of accountability.

2) We should not assume that the semantics we mean will be the semantics that our audiences interpret.

3) We need new success markers. No longer can orthodoxy be enough.
We need a new measurement of success as ministry leaders. Bums on seats doesn't cut-it!
We need to recognize and reward those who are truly walking out their orthopraxy.

Well that was a basic overview.
What are your thoughts on the above? I'd love you to leave a comment and share your thoughts with us. Lets journey together.

Godspeed & Kaizan