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What’s your TBO ('The Big Opportunity') for 2015?

Monday, December 29, 2014


“How you see your future is much more important than how you see your past.” Zig Ziglar

“Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the time of year when one hears comments like, “I can’t believe another year has gone by!” or, “Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?” or, “My, how time flies!” or, “Wow, has this year ever flown by!” or, “Is it 2015 already?” or, “Time is just moving too fast!”

Prolific author, management guru and Harvard professor John P. Kotter is cognizant of the rapidity of the speed of change in our ever-changing world. His 2014 book Accelerate (XLR8): Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World provides some helpful insights as we peer into the new year with our businesses.

The book proposes that each company needs to balance the system of the traditional hierarchy with a new system built for an environment where change has become the norm.  This new system is more agile and network-like but is determined to operate in concert with the hierarchy in a “dual operating system.”  In other words, within our bureaucracy, we need to liberate certain people to operate free of bureaucratic layers.  While some in the company need to focus on management, reliability, quality and efficiency, others must be nimble, swift, and creative, ready to grab opportunities.

While Kotter reviews his well-known differentiation between management and leadership and also his 8-stage process of change (which he calls here the “Eight Accelerators of Action”), one item that caught my attention was the idea of the big opportunity (or "TBO").  In contrast to vision statements, a TBO is a window into a winning future that is realistic, emotionally compelling, and memorable.  Such an opportunity begets a change vision which begets strategic initiatives.  

A TBO is a product of change in an organization’s environment (such as new markets, new advances in technology, or new demands being placed on an enterprise by competition or turmoil), changes inside the organization (such as new products or new people), or both.” 1

What might be the TBO(s) for IBEC in 2015?  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog theme…but they must, according to Kotter, “…be rational (why us, why now, why…), emotionally compelling (a sincere, positive, authentic appeal to the heart) and memorable (clear, short, no jargon).

Here is an example of a TBO for IBEC in 2015:

We may have the opportunity and resources over the next year to create a series of compelling BAM Talks by experts in the Business as Mission world.  This will lay a bedrock foundation for internet viewers to learn what BAM is and why it is important for all of us, and also hear stories of BAM at work.  It is exciting to see so much interest in Business as Mission, but it is important to provide a consistent foundation and real-life stories as we face the challenges of the early 21st century.  We cannot miss this opportunity or we would fail the church in America, and business people who are trying to follow Jesus with their professional capacity.


“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” 
(Paul of Tarsus)

1 John Kotter, Accelerate – Building Strategic Agility for a Faster Moving World, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, 2014, p. 133.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures


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A kingdom-minded business perspective on Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2014


There are many ways to say “Merry Christmas” or to give a Christmas greeting in the languages of the world.  The greetings above represent “Merry Christmas” in most of the languages served by IBEC consultants.  Despite cultural and linguistic differences there is one commonality – the Christ of Christmas! 

The continuity of Christ – from beginning to end– gives us a kingdom-minded business perspective on Christmas. We see that Jesus was "in the beginning" and "His kingdom will never end."

The Great Creation Mandate
In the beginning God took man and put him the garden to work it and take care of it  (Genesis 2:15) and he said to him, “…be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it…rule over every living creature…”  (Genesis 1:28). Jesus was there.

The Great Commandment
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Jesus spoke it.

The Great Commission
“…Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus commanded it.

The Great Throne Finale
“…there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language…” (Revelation 7:9).  Jesus will be there.

Many times in business planning we are encouraged to ask ourselves what the end might look like.  If the beginning started out with God at work and man invited to work also…and if Jesus invited us to love our neighbor and for much of the world that looks like the dignity of a good job…and if the Jesus of Christmas desires all peoples to worship him and follow him…then the end might look like this:

“Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?  All nations will come and worship before you…” (Revelation 15:4).

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Sustaining vision for an abundant life

Monday, December 15, 2014

Entrepreneur and IBEC Board member, Dave Kier reflects on purpose in what we do.  At this time of year, young entrepreneurs may wonder if all the work and uncertainty are worth it.  They may be trying to live one day at a time, having lost the vision to “change the world”.  The story that Dave relates below may encourage you to push on to a better future and not give up.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10b NASB®

Earlier this year I renewed an old acquaintance who was a POW during the Vietnam War. Just five days before he was to return home, Charlie Plumb was shot down and captured to be tortured and imprisoned in an 8 x 8 cell for 2,103 days in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”. (Read the phenomenal story, “I’m No Hero” about how he and 19 other POW’s learned how to keep a disciplined mind never allowing the enemy to get them to feel sorry for themselves and give up.)

In the news of late was a story on our soldiers returning from the Middle East and how disillusioned they are as they return home from fighting a war that took too many lives and left too many limbs behind for what seems to be no purpose.  They return home without declaring victory and then a few are told to go back to war again knowing that victory isn't the objective. Since we fight long drawn out political wars today, our soldiers don’t return to parades with confetti. Instead, they return home as if they punched a time clock for the last time and now must look for another job. The government reports that 22 veterans commit suicide every day - 22!  Even the greatest generation is suffering from this virulent epidemic as possibly they too are now wondering what on earth they fought for.  Many come home today with PTSD. Life for them suddenly lost its purpose. It’s a sad thing that is happening. Very sad. 

 On the other hand, Charlie said that none of the Hanoi Hilton POW’s left suffering with PTSD. How can that be? They were physically and mentally abused for nearly six years.  They couldn't speak to each other. They were constantly told they were forgotten. They had no reason to keep living – except – the faith that they would one day return home. They never stopped believing in God and in their country. They had family they were determined to see.  They had something to live for. They never let go of hope. Charlie came home to spread this message of hope through his experiences. He told me last week that though he could now retire, he is already filling up his speaking schedule for next year (Click here to watch videos highlights from talks and interviews).  He has to get the message out – a message of hope!

It seems to me that we try to manage life today rather than build it. We recently interviewed a man for a job and the longer we talked, the more enthusiastic he became as he talked about how he loved to make work easier and more productive. Most managers interviewed talk about how they manage or maintain work.  Too many people wake up to make it through another day instead of waking up to make today better than yesterday. It seems as if even those of faith are also losing their sense of purpose.  Jesus didn't create us and give His life for us so we could make it through another day.  Jesus came to give hope and He gave us His Spirit to enable us to press on.  Jesus came to reveal to us a future to live for.  Jesus came to give life – not existence – abundant life!  

David Kier, Owner of DFS Feeds and IBEC Ventures Board Member

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Part 2: Entrepreneurs, business developers...or both?

Monday, December 08, 2014


Last week Dave Kier surfaced the question of “Leadership” versus “Followership”.  He drew a distinction between the founder (or entrepreneur) in a business and a manager.  He talked about leaders and followers.  In Part 2 of this theme we consider the importance of all types in the development of a Kingdom business team.

Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller, Outliers, says, “No one — not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.”  He makes the case that success has a high correlation with the opportunities offered and the people in our path.  As an example he cites the teacher who allowed Bill Gates unlimited access to a time shared terminal in 1968.  That teacher created a differentiation for Mr. Gates and gave him the boost he needed for greatness.

Gladwell continues, “The people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.”  We often think of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.  But do we credit the impact of Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes?  Of course Steve Jobs had his Steve Wozniak and John Sculley. Walt Disney had Roy Disney, Fred Harmon and Margaret Winkler.  Bill Gates had his high school buddies Paul Allen, Ric Weiland and Kent Evans and college friend Steve Ballmer.

Dale Losch in his book, A Better Way – Making Disciples Wherever Life Happens, 2 talks about the whole body of believers and differing roles in business start ups.  He refers to “ground-breakers” — pioneers who are ready to be agents of change (p. 125).   These are the entrepreneurs who seek out opportunities and strategies.  Their new ideas, methods, directions and opportunities break new ground— for the business and for making disciples on the spiritual frontiers.

Losch continues by describing the “business developer” — men and women who have the ability and experience to develop and grow profitable and sustainable business opportunities.  They have exceptional business, organizational, human resource or leadership skills. They strive for results and are accountable for both the business growth and for making disciples.

Entrepreneur Ernesto Sirolli suggests that God has never created a person who can do all of the following: “make it; sell it; and keep track of the money.”  He continues to make the case for a business team to fulfill the dream of the entrepreneur. 3

So what does this mean for Business as Mission start ups?  Just as “it takes a whole village to raise a child,” so it takes a team to start and grow a business.  It takes leaders and it takes followers; it takes all kinds of people of character; people with capacity to learn and grow and work together.  

Good to Great author, Jim Collins, refers to insuring having the “right people on the bus.” Collins insists that “great vision without great people is irrelevant” and he says great companies define the right person as a person with character and innate capabilities, that being more important than knowledge, background and skills.  But the point is — a bus with a visionary driver is not accomplishing much unless there are people on the bus — the right people!  

Let us determine as we build Kingdom businesses that we take the time and care for everyone necessary for success.  Most people will not be the boss or the entrepreneur or the leader; they may be the accountant, the IT expert, the marketer, the language and culture expert, the product developer and so on.  We are in this together — for business success and for Kingdom results.


1  Gladwell, Malcom. Outliers: The Story of Success, Little, Brown and Co., 2008
2  Losch, Dale. A Better Way:  Making Disciples Wherever Life Happens, UFM International, 2012
3  http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen?language=en
4  An African proverb
5  Collins, Jim. Good to Great.  Harper Collins Publishers, 2001


Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Part 1: Leadership and Followership

Monday, December 01, 2014


Again we share the insightful thoughts of entrepreneur David Kier, owner of DFS Feeds and an IBEC board member.  His thoughtful wisdom reveals an important concern for Business as Mission start-ups: do we emphasis the entrepreneurial leader at the expense of the business builder? This is Part 1 of a two part series on the importance of a team in a business start up.                          

The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.

It is enough for students to be like their teachers and servants like their masters.”

Matthew 10:24-25 NIV


In business we speak a great deal about the importance of leadership.  At a recent Business as Mission conference the emphasis was on the entrepreneur, that trail blazer who goes to distant lands to become a leader by starting a business.  Thousands of books are written on leadership, but not many on “followership” - except in God’s spoken word written for us. The media focuses on that leader who leads the charge into all kinds of situations. Kind of strange isn’t it? Most of us are followers not leaders. Oh, we are all leaders in some fashion but not all bear the title in the workplace, in church, on the team, and so on.

Not many of us are cut out to be the person who skillfully directs a group of people to become super effective.  Let me tell you a little secret: most of us entrepreneurs aren’t good leaders – as if you didn’t know already! We are great doers…but not necessarily great leaders. We’re a frustrated lot. I read in a business book years back that “Inside every business, there is someone slowly going crazy.” That someone is the founder! He just wants to go and do things and build something and not mess with all the details or figure out how to get people to understand their jobs. 

Jesus gave a very important principle for life and one we have trouble with in the world that highlights the leader: it’s okay to be a follower. It’s a great thing to be second in command or not in command at all.  If you are young, first be an awesome student of the organization and don’t worry about becoming a manager. Learn the culture. Learn the business. Learn the people and in so doing, learn yourself and who you are.  If you turn out to be one that can be given the charge over a group of people – well – you will still have to keep learning and be under more pressure. 

We all are accountable to someone. One of the greatest lessons learned in life is to know who you are and understand and accept your position in life. Another lesson:  if you can’t submit to God, you will likely have difficulty submitting to your fellowman.  Follow well today.

David Kier, Owner of DFS Feeds and IBEC Ventures Board Member

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