Posts

The Real Finish Line: Maximising Missional Potential

How do you know your BAM project is achieving all it can for the Kingdom of God?

This is a challenging questions to answer for many leaders of BAM projects.  Often at a loss as how to measure anything spiritual, it leads to those nebulous statements such as: ‘Jesus is the centre of everything we do’ when questioned.

But it doesn’t have to be nebulous.

It IS possible to measure the progress towards your spiritual goals, but in order to do that you need to know what the target is.

Key Concept – Missional Potential

Not all BAM projects are able to impact for the Kingdom at the same level.  When we opened a data entry company that had Christian employees working for Christian customers, we realised that this was a very limited ‘fishing pool’ from which we were able to impact the Kingdom through evangelism.  The enterprise just didn’t ‘touch’ many people who were not already Christian.

As a response, we opened a bakery in a much busier part of town.  The bakery, by way of the nature of its business model, had many more interactions with people ‘far from God’ and so had much more potential for reaching people for Christ.

Is it fair to expect the data entry business to achieve the same level of spiritual fruit as the bakery?  We think not.  So what is the standard we are measuring the projects by?

The answer?  Each project needs to maximise its missional potential.

The Real Finish Line

By evaluating what the full missional potential is for your project, you now have a target to shoot for.  A finish line to work towards.

If we simplify the missional discussion to evangelism only, then the maximum missional potential for the data entry project is understandably far smaller than that of the bakery.  At the data entry project, we could potentially reach our suppliers (people who provided and fixed our computers for example), but our customers and staff were already Christians.  We would need to look for other areas to impact for the Kingdom of God.  Perhaps introducing discipleship for the staff that they could take home, and maybe evangelism training for them to use within their communities outside of work.

The bakery, however, was in a different league of missional potential.  Almost every interaction was with someone far from God.  We were based in an impoverished community, and both our staff and workers were not Jesus followers.  So considering what our outreach goals could be would need to be much more ambitious if we were going to maximise the missional potential of the bakery.

Are Quantifiable Targets Possible?

The idea of maximising your missional potential may be intuitively easy to understand, but how do you lead an organisation to targets without something quantifiable?  This may be a primary reason why BAM projects tend to shy away from measuring themselves in terms of spiritual fruitfulness:  They do not feel equipped to know how to measure what feels like a God ordained process.

We agree that people coming to Jesus is a God ordained process. At the same time, we feel it is possible to measure the project’s effort of effective exposure (EEE) to the gospel.

Our experience both doing effective outreach ourselves, and also comparing notes with some of the best in the world who do it, is that there are steps that lead to effective evangelism that can measured, and this is where quantifiable goals can be created.

For instance if you use the Four Missional Milestones referenced in the A Case Study – Applying Outreach In Business, it is possible to do analysis on the potential of your project to reach each milestone, and set realistic goals of applying the techniques necessary to reach those milestones through your project.

Application

For example, the first milestone is Connect, with a goal to get to the second milestone Share.  Your first step may be to analyse all the potential people your business touches that might be far from God.  From there you then analyse how many of those interactions are potential for EEE.  You then can set a target for 1) training your Christian team members with the skills for EEE, 2) measuring their performance of achieving EEE in Connect to Share.

Ultimately, you can measure numerically how much of your missional potential you are realising in reaching Connect, and the how many of those reached in the Connect phase are getting to the next milestone Share.  From there, you measure how many are moving from Share to the next milestone Gather and on and on.  You have now quantified your missional potential and are setting SMART goals that help you understand how much of that potential you are realising.

Conclusion

Understanding your project’s maximum missional potential can be a key step in achieving the Spiritual Bottom Line your project exists to fulfil. It allows you to set realistic goals for your team, and measure outcomes that can then be relayed back to investors, supporters or other key stakeholders who are supporting the project in order to see God glorified through the project.

It also helps to prevent you from going red-faced when asked what you are achieving for the Kingdom as you tell the questioner that ‘Jesus is the centre of everything we do’.

 

Article first published on the Business and Mission website, reposted with kind permission.

Business and Mission.org is a network of leaders each with decades of international entrepreneurial experience, but also comparable experience in effective outreach. The network was founded by Colin Crawley. Colin served for 8 years as the CEO of a UK missions agency based out of central London and prior to that served as the Executive Director for a California based global Business as Mission group for 5 years. Colin has a global background having lived in Hong Kong, the US, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. He enjoys meeting and learning from other leaders from all over the world who are passionate about seeing God’s Kingdom come.

 

 

Procurement and Technology Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this sixth and final part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Procurement and Technology.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

Human Resource Management Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this fifth part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Human Resource Management.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

The Role of Business Leadership Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

This article picks up where we left off last year in the series on Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

As we continue examining the way the value chain analysis can be useful, we need to keep in mind that these activities do not operate in isolation or for their own purposes. The activities in one functional area impact other areas and must be coordinated to help the company achieve its overall strategic objectives.

For example, if a firm takes a differentiation strategy in which its products, services, brand and marketing messages are unique from its competitors, then every functional area must seek to add value to achieving that objective of uniqueness. A company like Apple spends significant money on R&D, quality components and exceptional advertising to set its products apart. Primary activities including inbound logistics (sourcing components), production (quality control processes), and sales and marketing (advertising) must all support this objective, as well as the support activities of procurement (spending the necessary money to ensure differentiation) and human resources management (hiring, training, evaluating and compensating the kind of employees who will maintain the standards of excellence needed).

Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. As we start the new year, we are highlighting articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

Read more

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever: A Response

by Ross O’Brien

Like Mats Tunehag in his original article Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever, I hope that one day followers of Jesus whom God has gifted for business will naturally recognize their vocational call to the marketplace as a call to fulfill the missio Dei, the mission of God.

God’s purpose in the world is to redeem all creation from the effects of sin and restore all creation back into right relationship with himself. As followers of Jesus we have the blessed privilege and responsibility of co-working with God in this mission. I agree with much of what Mats say in this article and in general.

However, I question a few points, which reflects some of my own mental pilgrimage on BAM.

1. What’s in a Name?

Granted, I am an academic and we tend to try to define and describe everything, sometimes to an extreme. However, there is value in recognizing the unique similarities and differences in various phenomenon. The word “missions” for example means different things to different people. For some, going down the street witnessing to people who look a lot like us is referred to as missions. Serving food in a homeless shelter is also called missions. Going on a one-week mission trip a few states away is missions as is moving your family to a foreign country for a lifetime.  Read more

Marketing and Customer Service through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s value chain as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also sought to use the tool as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this third part of the series, we examine marketing and service, the final two primary activities in the value chain.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Marketing

Marketing Through a Traditional Lens

Marketing covers a broad spectrum of activities including branding, selecting a target market, product development, pricing, promotional strategy and distribution. A recognizable brand can add significant value to a firm. You can go almost anywhere in the world and people know the Coca Cola brand. According to statista.com, Apple’s brand was worth almost $235 billion in 2017. That number is not Apple’s market cap, it’s the value of their brand, an intangible asset. Ensuring the quality of the company’s products and services, creating effective advertising, and extending the geographic market are three ways to improve the value of a firm’s brand.  Read more

Operations and Outbound Logistics Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In Part 1 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. We looked at Inbound Logistics as one of the primary activities in the value chain.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. After all, while our names might be on the legal documentation as “owners,” we realize that the business belongs to God and we are co-laborers with him in restoring creation throughout the marketplace.

In the second part of the series, we continue to examine the primary activities of the value chain, this time focusing on operations and outbound logistics.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Operations

Operations Through a Traditional Lens

In a manufacturing business, operations include the activities of making products, inventory management, work flow management, facilities, personnel and equipment management. In a software firm, operations involve developing software; in an accounting firm providing the accounting services for their clients, etc. In our little coffee shop example, the operations activities include making and selling coffee and associated products. Knowledge of the best processes and combinations of quality ingredients are vital. The right equipment and knowledge of how to use it is also essential.  Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

Read more

Identifying and Maximizing BAM Success Factors Part 1

By Paul Harrington

In this new series on ‘BAM Success Factors’ we invite guest authors to share what they consider the key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. To open up the series, Paul Harrington gives us an overview of the most important BAM success factors he has identified through research. 

BAM Success Factors Part 1: Professional and Technical Considerations

Starting a new career in a part of the world that is not your cultural home is a big undertaking for anyone. For those who wish to use their businesses as a means through which God can reach the world, the challenge can be even greater. Everyone involved in the Business as Mission movement wants to make sure that every practitioner that takes the bold step of setting up a business with Kingdom values in a new context succeeds. Thankfully, many of the keys to success for BAM practitioners are known and have been validated by scholarly research.

BAM practitioners aren’t the only group of people who live and work outside of their home countries. Many companies and governments, including the military, as well as mission agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) send their employees to work around the world. While government and military techniques do not necessarily provide insight into how BAM practitioners can succeed, research done by and for private employers, NGOs, and mission agencies provides insight into the factors that lead to successful deployment of their personnel and have relevance for BAM practitioners.

Success means different things for different people. Since business as mission is a unique discipline with defined goals that might include the fourfold bottom line – achieving the financial goals of the owners of the company, social impact goals of the community in which the business works, goals to protect and enhance the environment, and spiritual impact goals – success in a business as mission enterprise can be measured.  Read more