Creating an Innovative Culture

by Jay Kranda | Mar 23, 2018

This post originally appeared on  Jay is the Online Campus Pastor at Saddleback, and helps churches leverage online strategies to expand their ministry's vision.


We are terrible at planning for the future. I’ll get back to this in a moment, but first Amazon Go. Amazon just opened a cashier-less store in Seattle. Crazy right? Will the store work? What does this mean for working jobs? So many questions, and Amazon doesn’t have all the answers yet, but they do have this store. Amazon is jumping into the storefront space not as an expert, but as a company with an idea. 

It’s not an experiment if you know in advance it’s going to work. If you want to be inventive, you have to experiment a lot, which means you will fail a lot.
— Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

The guts of Amazon Go is the machine learning software. Some speculate they have been working on this for years and have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars. Nobody knows for sure, but this store didn’t just pop into their mind a few months ago. This plan has been in action for a long time and us, the Amazon addicts, are just now seeing it. 

I couldn’t work for the CIA or the previously secretive Amazon Go project. When I have a fresh idea I love shouting it to the mountains. Carrie Mathison could get it out of me in seconds. I have no idea how more movie plots and Apple product leaks don’t happen, but somehow this idea had been kept quiet for the most part. As I talked about in a previous post technology companies are always evolving. Like sharks, companies like Amazon need to keep moving forward or they will die. They staff a whole department that handles this concept of the future called Research and Development

I know your ministry doesn’t have millions to dive into machine learning software, but I do think you can encourage some R & D activity easily. You don't need a whole department, but you do need a little vision. If all the great ideas are limited to your upper leadership, then you'll be limiting your success rate to a few people. Inspire everyone part of your ministry to get involved in the R & D process.  

5 Ways To Create A Culture Of R & D: 

  1. Schedule an hour a week for your team to test any idea
  2. Allocate budget for testing new software, subscriptions, and/or support tools
  3. Encourage people to consume books, blogs, podcasts, videos, and attend conferences outside of their current expertise to expand their reality
  4. Learn from others in your field or similar areas. Steal the best ideas! 
  5. Reward new ideas and not just the best ideas. They don’ have to all work. Remember the Amazon Fire Phone? That didn’t go great, but Amazon kept trying new things. You can't let your culture think failure is the end. 

The future is a scary, unknown place, but we only get there by taking steps forward. Don't get too confident in what is working now and start discovering what the future can look like with some R & D.