Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Setting Foundation Stones

. . . many software products make it all the way through the development cycle with little thought to the users’ experience, and when executives, sales people, or QA testers finally get their hands on the functioning product and start sounding the alarm bells, interaction designers are brought in to clean up the mess. With increasing demand for design “swat teams” to rescue fully developed but flawed software that is scheduled to ship within months or even weeks, the critical question becomes: how can you avoid getting caught up in the chaos that frequently permeates “crisis-mode” engagements?. . .

Following a tried-and-true process is one of the best ways to ensure that you can stay focused on your design effort (rather than getting bogged down with project management tasks) and deliver a consistent level of quality regardless of the length or urgency of the project. . .

When time is tight, there’s a strong temptation to roll up your sleeves and jump straight into detailed design. Don’t. Diving into detailed design without doing the necessary foundation-setting work is every bit as perilous as diving into development without a clear design. http://www.cooper.com/journal/2008/07/bringing_sanity.html
The same is true not just about software development, but many (most?) other physical/tangible products, as well as many (most) non-physical things as well. I'm thinking about families, churches, ministries. . .

Families need solid foundations from the very beginning Too many couples get married without doing the hard work of "foundation-setting." Do they know more about each other beyond "Wow! He/She is really HOT!"? Have they discussed all the topics that a good pastor inquires about during pre-marriage counseling, like finances and children (when, how many, adopted or biological, and most importantly, if)? These are just two of the foundational building blocks that are required for a strong marriage and family. (Having these discussions doesn't guarantee a divorce-proof marriage, of course, but not having them almost guarantees trouble in the future.)

Churches and ministries are much the same. We wouldn't encourage people to "dive into detailed [ministry] without doing the necessary foundation-setting work," would we? For instance, should someone become a pastor without first understanding what exactly he believed? Can he explain the gospel to others? Is his theology well-developed? Does he know why he believes what he believes? Does he know enough about himself to know if he's well-suited for the task of shepherding a flock? Does he know his spiritual gifts?

It's clear that a solid foundation is needed before someone dives into ministry.

And yet. . .

How many youth groups are traveling this summer on a "mission trip" somewhere? Are they prepared and trained?
Do they see it as a mission?
1. The act of sending, or the state of being sent; a being sent or delegated by authority, with certain powers for transacting business; commission.
2. That with which a messenger or agent is charged; an errand; business or duty on which one is sent; a commission.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?db=web1913&q=mission]
Do they know why they're going, or is it promoted to them as just a fun, cool adventure?

And now, much like the "crisis mode" of some software development, we are in a "time is tight" situation. Our society seems to be crumbling around us, fraught with relativism, secularism, individualism, and a dozen other -isms. The economy, the war, education, and other issues our politicians claim to have answer for. Abortion, gay marriage, religious rights, and other social issues of concern to conservative Christians.

The temptation is to dive in and "DO SOMETHING!"

But I fear that without the proper "foundation-setting work", the proper preparation, we may make things worse instead of better.

That's why Arizona Christian Worldview Institute exists. To help with the hard work of setting those foundation stones. To help people understand why they believe what they believe. To partner with the churches in the task of disciple-making.

More to follow in a later blog.

Let the conversation continue.

1 comment:

Suzy Thompson said...

I'm glad that you found my article on software design inspiring, though I was certainly surprised to find it quoted on your website. It seems that this pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, atheist daughter of a lesbian has more to contribute than you might have thought. For what it's worth, I agree with you that families need strong foundations. I just define the term 'family' more broadly than you do.