Last night I had the opportunity to sit in a room with the vice presidential team and CEO & chairman of Christianity Today International. I was invited by a new friend, Marshall Shelley, who is one of the VP's for CTI as well as the Executive Editor of Leadership Journal.
We gathered at the McDonalds corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. (Amazingly, I did not see one golden arch, but I must say that the campus is pretty impressive)
The conversation was a great one. I was intrigued as I watched their team passionately communicate their desire to take their magazine family (Campus Life, Christianity Today, Today's Christian Women, Leadership, and a bunch more...) to the "next level" and stay culturally relevant towards their market audiences.
Somehow I got invited to contribute to the evening by offering candid and straightforward feedback. (And God only knows that I'm usually pretty good at it...)
Through the course of the evening, we discussed everything from design to how to make their magazines more interactive (a.k.a. Perhaps a blog?) They even had a guest consultant present - Dr. Sumir Husni, a journalism professor from The University of Mississippi who's known as "Mr. Magazine."
More than anything, I think the most encouraging aspect of the evening was watching an "established" organization like CT vulnerably opening themselves up to criticism and new ideas. They begged for honesty and candidness.
How many of us in our organizations are intentionally putting ourselves in a place to hear people's perceptions about our churches, businesses, schools, etc...
If you are a pastor of a church, why not ask the non-returning visitors why they didn't return a second time? (But if you do that, make sure you let them know that you aren't necessarily trying to get them to come back, but that you just really value their input.)
If you are a business person or in sales, why not ask your former client why they didn't renew their contract with you?
Great job CT! And great job to any organization that has the guts to do the same. It's really the only way to go to the next level.