I love to experiment. For many years my experiments were conducted in the kitchen. Cooking is a passion I began when I was very young and have nurtured throughout my life.
Experimenting in the kitchen is a great adventure. With a few basic cooking skills such as knowing your ingredients, understanding how to manage time and temperature and having the right tools, you can create something really great…or not! The good news is, in either case you learn a lot, both about what NOT to repeat and what worked WELL that you want to try again. The other good thing about a cooking experiment is that you can always save the recipe and make adjustments the next time you make it. I have also learned through experience how to correct certain mistakes midstream – a little hot water can bind a hollandaise, a small amount of lemon can brighten the flavor of a flat broth or sauce, a little flour can thicken a gravy or soup. I am also risk tolerant enough to try experiments “live” where I will make a dish I have never made before for dinner guests that very night. Not every dish works perfectly, but there is something about the excitement and energizing intensity of “flying without a net” that I really enjoy (most of the time).
Last weekend Serving Leaders held such an experiment – called Faith & Work 2.0. The ingredients were thoughtful people who love God, sound content, healthy conditions for real dialogue, great facilitators (thank you Sean Purcell and Francois Guilleux from CCO-XD) and of course good food and snacks! Cultivated from a conversation I had last fall with Gideon Strauss of the DePree Center for Leadership, we dreamed of an event that would offer the opportunity for people working in a variety of sectors to come together, present case studies of real challenges they face in integrating their work with their faith and receive wise counsel, new perspective and practical ideas and insights they could field-test in their vocational lives.
The case studies were robust, the dialogue rich and helpful and a wonderful by-product of the two days were the relationships that were formed. We added some additional ingredients “on the fly”, including asking the talented Sean Purcell who can integrate and draw real-time key elements of the conversation to document the case studies in pictures. By the end of the weekend we had 4 long “story scrolls”.
Friday night we enjoyed a tour of PNC Park with Architect David Greusel who shared his “Kingdom Vision” for a common good civic building. David also got to experience the fruits of his labor from 12 years ago as the ballpark literally crackled with life and energy for our resurgent Pirates throughout the evening!
When the rain poured down on Saturday morning just as our groups were to walk outside to the adjacent building for their dialogues, we called an audible and quickly rearranged the room to accommodate everyone right where they were. We made many small adjustments to the facilitation, design and the timing all throughout the weekend, which may have appeared planned to most of the group but were really the team doing our best to respond to what we saw occurring and keep the energy and momentum up! And of course, I have a running list of all the things we might do differently next time to improve the experience and outcomes.
All in all, it was a worthy experiment – much was learned; everyone enjoyed their experience and the verdict is: keep the recipe, make a few tweaks and try it again for a bigger dinner party! After all, you can’t just do the experiment once if you really want to create something new that offers lasting value. Can’t wait for version 2.1!