The Future Church - A Church Communications Podcast
Church Media + Communications

E020 - What is "The Wall?"

James: Today we're talking about something you referenced last episode called "the wall", what is "the wall" Joanna?

Joanna: For me the wall is a giant wall in my office area that has all of our projects and sticky notes all over the place. I'm going explain that in this episode.

James: Joanna you're gonna to talk a little bit more about this thing called "the wall" and we're gonna actually attach some pictures on the website. Some reference photos of the actual wall that you're talking about. But let's talk a little bit about what this thing is and what its purposes is?

Joanna: Yeah basically it's the brain of all the projects of communications laid out visually on this wall. So we have it almost like imagine like a spreadsheet only it's on a wall. So that's a big chart with projects we have coming up projects we've actually started working on. There is a column for creative there's a column for It's in process there's a column for It's being distributed. We even have all the way on the other end we would have a column for a delivered and then debriefed if necessary. And so each project week we'll show you the photos. Each project has its own horizontal line and then we're tracking the projects all the way along with all of the things under that so there would be a separate piece of paper for print in a separate piece of paper for the video for that a separate piece of paper for the digital we're working on for that. So each project like Easter or Christmas or a new launch of youth program they would have their own call their own kind of heading and then we would move that project along in there. Now here's ultimately what it does, for our team it visualizes really quickly what we're working on and where projects are. So when my team meets every week we meet on Mondays we get to a lot we sit in front of the wall and we look at where projects are and how far they've moved along and where where things are stuck. We can literally see that that sticky has been stuck there for the last two weeks what can we do to move it forward on the wall and the other thing is kind of like we've been talking about yesterday on the podcast is around what it does for the boss or what it does for other ministry teams that come in and swing by our office with requests or want to come in grab a cup of coffee and say hi and hang out on our couch it allows people to see what we're working on not the details nitty gritty that's happening in of course our emails and our Slack group and our project management tools digitally but allows people to see what we're working on and where we do or don't have space to take on more. I want my boss the shadow mission is I want my boss to see it a quick glance when he comes into my office. Look at all the stuff we're doing. So if he comes in with another great idea of something that he wants us to do, we can look at the wall and kind of say OK so we're like what are we not going to do in order to accomplish that thing you're asking us? And a lot of the time he'll be like oh oh no actually that thing I had in mind it wasn't that urgent. Oh we can do that like next month. But because we have the visual of the wall to look at together it gives him an idea of all the productivity we're actually a part of what we're really accomplishing. And when they come in with more requests they can begin to see how that might affect the other things we're already doing. It's a quick visual reference without them having to go up and look at every little piece of paper and all the details because sometimes it's hard to see in creative world. What do those people do all day? And it allows them to see what we're doing all day.

James: Where did this idea come from? This Isn't something that I think you've done forever. I've been to the church office and I thought this is only something that I've noticed recently in the past little while. So what got you to a point where you realized I need to put something big on the wall that everyone can see?

Joanna: The biggest thing for us is that our team grew. And so when we're working on projects with more people it became more complex. And so as our jobs became more complex we needed a way for the whole team to be on one page about it for our team meetings and things like that. And so perhaps a mini version of a wall if you're working by yourself is just some sticky notes on your wall like a few sticky notes beside your desk or wherever you work or on a bulletin board at your cubicle just to sort of show all the big level projects that you're working on at that time so that if anyone comes by they can kind of see what you're working on and for you it's something so satisfying in a digital world of holding that little piece of paper and moving it along the wall towards completion it just feels satisfying like you're really doing something.

James: And I think it's important to encourage people that you don't have to be a big team in order to be implementing some these ideas like there are a lot of people who are a solo communicator in church and they are the only person and they might not even be full-time. They might be doing this 20 hours a week but it's important for us to encourage them to start getting organized because it's going to help them take some pressure off it's going to help them even as you're saying communicate with whoever their boss is what they're doing and how they're doing it and whether or not they're going to be getting overwhelmed or they're working on too many things. Burnout is really common in church roles and especially communications roles because we have a tendency to want to help people and to take on too many projects and then what happens is things get disorganized things start falling behind and then you break trust with people and you burnout really fast as you just get exhausted. So it's important to really say to people like try out some of these tools whether it's an online project management or just making your own version of the wall at home in your cubicle in your tiny office in your big office. Put it somewhere and start visualizing what's going on in and where projects are. And that's only going to help you and it's only going to help others who work with you.

Joanna: And if your dream is to grow your team or get more hours if you're a part-time person and you're trying to go to full-time or you're a person who wants to grow your team the more you can show your boss and the team that you work on all the things that are really happening in your world it allows them to understand how actually significant it would be and how much more you could accomplish if you had more people involved.

James: And you are also working on skills that are that are going to be helpful for you in your job in your career. Look at this is like training you are learning to project manage and if you have those skills and abilities ready to go so that when growth does happen you are then prepared and not falling behind again that you are now prepared to add in other people to your system so that everyone can grow well and healthy right. Like it's not you're not going to run into problems where we've grown so fast and I have no idea and I'm not a project manager. You're starting to build those skills to become a project manager as well as a communicator.

Joanna: Yeah. So I mean just just for fun like if people build a wall or have a wall whatever that looks like for you. I want to see it like tag us in a picture of it. It would be fun to see your wall.