I love to read. I typically read two dozen books a year or more. I wish I had more time for reading, in fact. Lately, I’ve tended to alternate between fiction, or fun books and business-type books. A few weeks in church, our pastor mentioned a book he had been reading which sounded very interesting. I immediately went to my Amazon app and put the Kindle version on my wish list for purchase when I got home. The book is Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud. I’m more than 3/4 of the way through now, and while there are a few standard business book clichés (you have to prune the rose bush…), it’s been very good.
The other night, after finishing another chapter, I started thinking about the concept of endings, and how it applies to the life of a TD. It occurred to me that there are probably three types of necessary endings you’ll encounter as a technical leader. And, because I’ve heard 10,000 sermons in my life, I will structure this series as an alliteration: Processes, People and Personal. Today we’ll talk about the first, and hit the other two later this week.
Ending a Process
I’m not going to go into all the questions and diagnostics Henry goes into in the book—I suggest you buy it and read it. But I want to talk about when it’s time to change the way we do things.
It’s been said that the last six words of a dying church are, “We’ve always done it that way.” I think the same can be true of a ministry, and in our case the technical ministry. Now, it’s true that change can be hard and many people don’t like it. However, we can get stuck doing something the same way over and over out of habit, without really noticing that it’s no longer effective.
When I arrived at Coast Hills in 2009, the tech team had gotten into a system of completely clearing the stage every weekend of every single cable, snake, wedge, mic stand and even extra risers. Then the next Saturday, we’d set it all up again. Most of it in the exact same place. At some point, that made sense; the church used to do a lot of outside events—sometimes several a week—which required a clear stage.
But by the time I got there, we were doing a few a year. It simply no longer made sense to pull everything off the stage. But everyone was so used to it, it has a hard change. It was also hard work; it typically took 4 guys 90+ minutes to set up every week. Sometimes, we were cutting it close when it came to getting things line checked before the band showed up.
As I looked over the process, it occurred to me that we were doing a lot of work and re-work unnecessarily. Within the first year, my new ATD and I embarked on building a bunch of new custom snakes that could live on the stage all the time. We build custom length cords for things that stayed in place, like the drum kit and piano. After a few months, we got to the place where we could have the entire stage set by one person in under 30 minutes. Think about that; we went from 360 man-minutes to 30! Talk about being more efficient. Strike was similarly speed up.
We used all the extra time to come in later, and spend more time together as a team, and less uncoiling and re-coiling snakes.
Now, you would think that everyone would be thrilled at this. But some weren’t. We lost a few of the old guys who were upset at the “new way” of doing things. But you know what, they were grumpy old sound guys who really didn’t do much but complain about everything all weekend anyway. So I was kind of glad to see them go.
Sometimes, you will find yourself in a situation where you have been doing something for so long that you don’t even know why. But things change, and if you’re not regularly evaluating what is working and what isn’t, you’re not as effective as you could be. And you’re probably working too hard, as well. Look over your processes. See if there are any that need to end. Are you still making cassettes that nobody ever pick up? Maybe CDs? What are you doing that you need to stop doing so you can be more effective? Find a way to stop it and move on.
Sometimes, there will be a person holding you back. And that will be the topic of the next post.