Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

One Word That Can Unleash Creativity

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Our team has a lot of creative conversations. Some are organized, some are on-the-spot. We love to creatively propose solutions from building systems, following up with first-time guests, tracking the health of our volunteers. In my world, almost everything can become a creative discussion.

Since discussions are based on the ideas we think and the way we communicate those ideas, we choose to be specific with the words we use.

We discovered that for our team, “Should” implies that there is a right solution, and everything else must be a the wrong solution. For instance, “What should we do about….” sounds like there is one right solution to the situation, and everything else is a “shouldn’t”: Here’s what a conversation would sound like:

“What should we do about people standing in the foyer and coming into service late?”

“Well, we should announce that service is starting.”

“No, we should flicker the lights 5 minutes before service…”

“No, we should flicker the lights 10 minutes before service…”

“Yes, that’s what we should do!” (but what if it didn’t work… was it something we shouldn’t have done?)

The trouble with what we “Should” do is determining what is right or wrong – black and white – good or bad. ?And who would define that 5 minutes before service is right and 10 minutes before service is wrong? We’re not really trying to discover a right or wrong answer, but rather trying to discover the best option – and discovering the best option goes beyond this conversation, but it starts here. ?

Instead of creating list of 2 options (either / or) and then presenting the one you think is what we “should” do, we’ve discovered that we can create a much more productive conversation by swapping “Should” with “Could”. Instead of “What should we do about…” our discussion sounds like “What could we do about…”

So instead of “What should we do about people standing in the foyer and coming into service late?” we would ask “What COULD we do about people standing in the foyer and coming into service late?”

Now our discussion sounds like this:

We could: flick the lights before service, make an announcement, have a countdown timer, turn up the music, turn off the music, stop serving coffee, both flick the lights and make an announcement, have someone dancing around in a chicken suit…

Well, we get some pretty ‘unique’ ideas… but often hidden in those crazy ideas is a gem of an idea that someone was just throwing out because we could… and it opens the door if we’re not happy with trying one of the other options with… “What else could we do?”

Consider for your team what these conversations would sound like:

How should we present this idea? ?/ How could we present this idea?

How should I deal with that volunteer? / How could I deal with that volunteer?

When should we hold that event? / When could we hold that event?

We should do XYZ / We could do XYZ

How long should this video be? / How long could this video be?

Don’t take my word for it. ?Give it a try. ?Next time you’re having a creative discussion, trying using ‘Could’ where you would have used ‘Should’. ?After the ideas seem to run dry, say “Cool. ?What else could we try?” and see if any other ideas come up. ?If it doesn’t work, you’re not any farther behind. ?If it works, tweet me: #SwapShouldWithCould – ?I want to hear about it!

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