Richard Passmore just wrote an interesting post here which speaks on innovation and adaption. Which is the preferred way of working for pioneers, you might ask?

At first sight, innovation is what a pioneer should be. Innovation is about new….new ideas. Richard writes it though as a ‘feeling forward’.

For me, a pioneer in ministry is more entrepreneur. And entrepreneurs have a mix of innovator and adapter about them.

Here’s 5 reasons why a pioneer is a mix of both

1. Entrepreneurs aren’t inventors. Dyson reinvented how a vacuum cleaner sucks. But he did not invent the vacuum cleaner. He innovated a new technology (cyclone) to improve an existing one. Pioneer ministers sense their way through opportunities.

2. Innovators are joined-up big-picture thinkers. Ever heard of ‘its not what you know, it’s who you know’ said with a sense of jealousy? Well it’s true. Networks are what makes it work. Having a broad knowledge allows you to combine ideas in new ways. Dyson did big picture thinking. Pioneers will not look at one thing and try to make it work in another context. Rather they see problems and solutions that haven’t yet been connected and then do so in surprising ways.

3. Pioneers steal like an artist. Being an artist I can tell you that we use references, other people’s ideas, and remix it to our own needs. We adapt what others have used previously to tell our own story. So we adapt what is already there. We work out how another artist worked, then take the useful bits. But in doing so we innovate new solutions, then add our own twist. Another way to say it is standing on the shoulders of giants.

Richard is quite right, innovations sometimes need working out how they were arrived at so that if it works it can be repeated. But that’s quite hard for the innovators to do…they are innovators. It’s based on intuition. We need both however. And a true entrepreneur will have both skills.

4. When you have the building blocks you can scale and see connections. Dyson took his cyclone technology, or rather his understanding of air flow, and put it into hand dryers and air coolers. He broke down what it was that worked, and then reapplied it.

it’s the building blocks, the fundamentals that we can use to remix. It’s like building with Lego. There are a set of basic shapes which can be remixed over and over…and add some interesting shapes too of course. For a pioneer it’s essential to know what is working so that you can see the other opportunities where it can be used. Pioneer ministry is about finding tribes, then building that tribe and understanding how Jesus relates to that tribe….how the tribe can express it.

5. So an entrepreneur goes and works out what happened so they aren’t a solopreneurs. He is an adapter. Because it’s not just about doing something new or once. It’s about scaling and building something bigger than yourself. If you can’t systematise it, then no one else can run it for you. You can’t scale it to have a greater impact. You also need to break it down into small blocks so you can work out what to lose because it is not an efficient system. The danger of solo-preneurs is everything revolves around them and if they aren’t there it all falls apart. Entrepreneurs innovate, adapt, systematise, then get out to let someone else run it whilst they go do it again.

So if a pioneer is to be an entrepreneur they need to be both. To innovate, and to adapt.

Its an approach that I take with telling people about Jesus. You can read more about that here.