The 90/10 solution

By Ken Behr

I always smile when I hear someone that claims they are giving it 150 percent.

I certainly understand why they are making the claim, they are trying to communicate clearly that they are extending every effort to accomplish a task.

Most of us understand that 150 percent is arguably impossible. One of the things I teach as well is that 100 percent is also not a good objective when it comes to church processes, procedures and systems. A more reasonable objective is to achieve 90 percent of what is desired as the additional effort to achieve it all requires a huge expenditure of resources, both capital (money) as well as time that can be better used on other endeavors. In fact studies have shown that often 90 percent of the desired result can be accomplished with as little as 10 percent of the effort: A 90/10 solution.

Let’s assume that you are leading a church that is looking into a computer system that has capabilities that include children check-in, small groups, membership, giving and volunteer tracking.  Being a good leader you assemble the heads of various ministries, announce to them that you are going to be purchasing and/or developing a new system that handles the handful of tasks you have already identified and invite them to become a member of the selection and implementation team.

After a few meetings, the newly assembled team now has some very specific requirements that includes all of the above plus: historical giving information, archived membership information, a social-media interface that provides both Twitter and Facebook updates, a project management system, the ability to track an unlimited number of designated funds, the ability to record prayer requests, track class registration, import and display family and individual photos and another twenty or so desirable attributes.

If the team was actually insistent about achieving all of their objectives including a desire for the resulting system to be so flexible that anything forgotten can be easily added on in the future, they would find that the cost of implementing the 100 percent solution would be extremely expensive. However, if they selected a solution that would hit the ground running and provide 90 percent of all of the desired attributes, the costs would be about 10 percent of the 100 percent solution.

It is actually pretty simple to understand that the first 90 percent of almost any project can be accomplished or implemented with about 10 percent of the effort. This applies not only to church computer systems but also decisions that we make on a daily basis. A chef may take a trip to his favorite market possibly in a different city to select exactly the right cut for a dinner party while those of us with more modest expectations can stop at the local grocery store and find something already cut, packaged and priced at a much lower cost.

This 90/10 approach also applies to church construction, video and audio equipment, furnishings and publications. It is much better stewardship of resources to understand that being able to provide a 90 percent solution is not only much more economical but also allows other projects, ideas and ministry wishes to be considered and funded.

Give 100 percent to those things that are clearly directed by the Lord. Do 100 percent discipleship, encourage 100 percent unity, and develop 100 percent parents. Do more ministry by embracing a 90/10 solution for those things that are desired but not needed.

Ken Behr is an executive pastor at Christ Fellowship, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. [ www.gochristfellowship.com]

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