Pro Bono (III) – Integrity

Final comment on Pro Bono from Triggers by Howard Marshall’s (Pro Bono I – Commitment, Pro Bone II – Excuse):

When we find ourselves in a position where we have an excuse to do less than our best, how many of us grab the pro bono excuse as a lifeline?

Integrity is an all-or-nothing (like being half pregnant, there’s no such thing as semi-integrity). We need to display it whatever obligations we’ve made.

We don’t need integrity to live up to our smart commitments – the ones where there is an obvious payoff for showing up and doing our best.

The true test is delivering top-shelf performance with our stupid commitments 0 the kind we didn’t want to do in the first place and got talked into.

We know this is the right think to do, but caught up in a challenging environment – we’re tired or overextended, we have better options, it costs more than we thought, the White House is calling with a more glamorous offer -0 we think more about our situation than the people counting on us 

Pro Bono (II) – Excuse

More on Pro Bono working from Howard Marshall’s great book Triggers way (Part 1 at Pro Bono I):\r\n\r\n

“When we find ourselves in a position where we have an excuse to do less than our best, how many of us grab the pro bono excuse as a lifeline?

“By pro bono, I don’t just mean that we’re not getting paid for our expertise (like high powered lawyers representing nonprofit organisations for free) but rather any voluntary activity that’s a persona choice – whether it’s coaching out kid’s soccer team or washing dishes at a soup kitchen or mentoring at-risk teens at the local high school or agreeing to give a speech.

“We create causal equivalences between volunteering and our level of commitment. We think that because we raised out hand to HELP OUT we can raise our hand to OPT OUT at the inconvenient moments. This is how our fine and noble intentions degrade into good enough outcomes. This is how our integrity gets compromised. “

Pro Bono (I) – Commitment

More than ten years ago I went through a selection process to become a priest in the Church of England. It was decided that after training I would become a full time priest and receive a full time salary. More than ten years later and I have just started to receive a salary. And between selection and now I have worked full time, at my own cost. Pro Bono. Like any job it can be very pressured and I regularly get this advice from friends during pressured times:“You’re a volunteer! Just don’t do it!” Why?! I don’t get it. Like most people, what I do is not driven by a direct connection between money and task, although obviously having absolutely no money would bring everything to an end. As a professional, as a person, why would I NOT follow through on a carefully considered commitment? Howard Marshall in his great book Triggers (my best book of the year so far) put it this way:

“Pro Bono is an adjective, not an excuse. If you think that doing folks a favor justifies doing less than your best, you’re not doing anyone any favors, including yourself. People forget your promise, remember your performance. It’s like a restaurant donating food to a homeless shelter, but delivering self-dated leftovers and scraps that hungry people can barely swallow. The restaurant owner thinks he’s being generous, that any donation is better than nothing Better than nothing is not even close to good enough – and good enough, after we make a promise, is never good enough.”

Project Proformas for Charity Projects

“How can charities and churches develop Good Ideas for Local Projects?” was the question some of us asked last year as we thought about how a group of local churches could have an impact on Nine Elms on the South Bank.

To facilitate this further I developed a proforma to guide the thoughts of creatives and leaders through an analytical process to determine the focus, cost and time required for a typical project.

Two examples are shown here, one for a Centre for Spiritual and Personal Development, and one for a Family Hub to serve some local estates. Forfor a working copy to use email me at and I’ll send you a copy.

100 Days

There’s a management idea that the first 100 days is the period after joining a new organisation where a new director or CEO can observe the culture as if from outside. After that it’s no longer possible to see it with fresh eyes.

On a different tack, Tom Peters ‘posts a blog’ in his book WOW! called ‘100 Days’ where this is instead about an executive at Apple who dedicated 100 days a year to employee performance reviews. To each of his 25 direct reports he gave 2 full days twice a year on one-to-one development of personal development and direction.

Tom’s comment: believe in people development? Then put your diary where your mouth is …

One Person One Task One Year

Here’s something to think about.

At the end of 2014 I took over a major project for a very large church. By the end of 2015 the project had been radically reshaped, a team of about 20 leaders had been brought together, over 600 people had been consulted, over 200 people had individually contributed to the outcome, resources had been released, finance had been obtained (and a considerable amount spent!), a full professional team had been engaged, the creativity of hitherto hidden people had been brought to the foreground, assets had been analysed, the status quo had been challenged, energy levels have been raised, along with expectation, hope, challenge, purpose, and clarity. It’s hard to move hundreds of people but one way it is possible is with …

One Person. One Task. One Year. With hindsight, I wonder what else could have been achieved in the same year with the same people and the same resources?

Or …

The right person. The right task. The right timescale.

Acts 14 – Paul’s early church planting strategy

Acts 14 gives us Paul’s simple outline for planting emerging churches:

  1. DELIVER the Message of faith to people who have never heard: Paul and Barnabas started their preaching at the local synagogues. Meeting with little interest among people of faith for their message they move on to a fresh audience outside existing places of worship who were delighted to have the opportunity for a new spiritual experience.
  2. DEFINE the new core of disciples: in each new place they visited they established a strong core of disciples, those who had heard their offering and accepted the next step.
  3. DEVELOP the new churches by building up their faith and understanding. In Eugene Peterson’s version of the New Testament, The Message, it says that Paul and Barnabas ‘added muscle and sinew into the lives of the disciples’
  4. DIRECT new faith communities into appropriate structures for security and development. Again in The Message, they ‘hand picked leaders in each church. After praying (and fasting) they presented these new leaders to God’
  5. DEPART. Paul and Barnabas didn’t hang around. Their job was not to act as continual nursemaids, but with faith and confidence in the work of God to grow the church they left these new communities to grow and mature on their own. They went back to Antioch, from where they had set out some months before, and reported on the successes they had experienced. The New Testament commentary on the venture? ‘Launched by God’s grace and now home by God’s grace. A good piece of work’.

We could learn from that approach: this was a clear package of work. It had a beginning and an end and clarity in between What could we achieve with this sort of clarity? (see One Person One Task One Year)