Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Over the last twenty years or so there has been a proliferation in the need to have statements of visions and values - companies, organisations, corporations all desire to cling to these comfort blankets of memory jogging. No criticism. My church no less, exists to bring:

Glory to Christ
Growth to his Church
Good News to the Community

Snappy eh?

That is not to say that we never do anything else. Sometimes we go walking, bowling or drinking. We used to do these things because they were fun but now we can justify them as part of growing the church, developing relationships and making new ones. I always felt my drinking was good news to the local community, especially the landlords of the Somerville Arms and the Cask and Bottle. Back to the point.

I have a fair degee of cynicism about vision statements and value-lists, personally. I feel that any organsiation without a self-evident purpose ought to give itelf a good talking to.

My partner's shop is not a shop but a lifestyle destination. Sorry but next Saturday afternoon I'll still be watching the Cup Final despite the great temptation to go lifestyle destinationing.

Which brings me, laboriously I admit, to the point. Yesterday I witnessed an organisation listing its core values. To the five original values of its founders it had added three new ones. One of them was 'Excellence'. Why?

Would you not try your best in all circumstances to do good work? Would you not make the occasional calculation that doing three pieces of work in a good enough way (so that the clients are satisfied) is preferable to doing two, or even only one, excellently? Even God thought his creation was only 'good' at the end of each day and 'very good' when he had finished it.

I do not strive for excellence. I strive to keep my customers happy. As a freelance I charge £21.50 an hour (reviewed every September). If someone asks me to write a set of notes for an all-age service, or for teenage Bible reading at a set fee of, say £75 then I need to do that work in three and a half hours. If it takes longer then I am reducing my income.

Now I could write quite stunning material (OK fairly stunning) for £75 if I took a week over it, constantly reworking and self-editing. But I couldn't pay my bills on £75 a week. So I strive for adequate, try to have high standards and, based on repeat business, keep my customers satisfied. (They know my system). Excellence is over-rated. Value isn't.

Go and do something so self-evidently good that your clients will know what you exist for and how well you do it. Now. I'm off to the gym.

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