Several months ago I began something with our staff that has been a huge hit. It’s simple. Any staff can do it, whether in a church or a business application. And it boosts staff morale and excitement when we do it. I encourage you to try it with your staff. It’s called a “Blue Sky Thinking” morning. In this post I explain what it is and how you can do it to supercharge your staff morale.
“Blue Sky Thinking” is a creative brainstorming technique to help leaders think outside the box. The origin of the phrase, although rather obscure, implies the emptiness of the sky and thus, blue sky thinking means thinking with no preconceptions (i.e., thinking outside the box).
Before I give you our steps, I’ve listed below the benefits I’ve observed in our church staff.
- It stirred creativity.
- It allowed freedom to not have to ‘produce’ something. Rather it provided space to focus on issues we tend to put off.
- It fostered deeper relational connection when we shared what we learned.
- It encouraged our staff to affirm each other.
- It made us more vulnerable to each other as some tears have even been shed.
So, here’s what we do.
STEP 1: I schedule the first Tuesday of each month for our blue sky day. I send an email and ask each staff person to spend at least two hours alone that morning in a place that encourages creative thinking and minimizes distraction. They may choose a coffee house, a park, their office (with the shades drawn to block distractions), or even their home. The key is to pick a place as distraction-free as possible.
STEP 2: During their blue sky session, I encourage them to dream, pray, and think about some ministry or personal issue they need to give attention to. The sky’s the limit. I send these questions in the reminder email a few days prior to spur their thinking. They don’t answer every one, but they pick one or two to stir their creativity.
- What is a problem I need to solve in my job? What can I do about it?
- What is a process I need to improve? How can I improve it?
- If I could, I would (do this in ministry)….
- What gives me the most energy in ministry and how can I tap into that even more?
- What’s going really well in my role and how can I infuse what’s making it work into other parts of my job?
- What is God impressing on my heart?
- What if what I am currently doing in ministry just quit working all of a sudden. What could or would I do differently?
- What is God teaching me and what do I need to do in response?
- What is an area I’ve not thought much about, needed to, but have not scheduled think time?
- What is a wild and crazy idea I have? Play around with it.
STEP 3: That day in our staff meeting after we’ve finished our blue sky sessions, we each share what we did in our time. Each staff person takes about 5 minutes to share. I then give us an opportunity to ask questions or comment. Sometimes no one comments. Sometimes the comments are very profound and affirming. I take notes and always affirm each staff person for something I noticed in their blue sky session before the next person shares.
Every time we do this, our morale gets a boost and each of us leaves that staff meeting feeling affirmed and excited.
I encourage you to try this simple experience and see what it does to your staff’s morale.
What kinds of team experiences have boosted your particular staff’s morale?
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