The other day I read a great article from The New York Times about hobbies. The report covered how to find a hobby. It defined a hobby "as any enjoyable leisure activity that we engage in voluntarily and consistently when we are free from the demands of work or other responsibilities." Up until then, I thought I did not have a hobby. But now, knowing that definition, it turns out I do.
For as long as I can remember, going back to my teens, I have loved taking deep dives. I'd be reading something or watching the news and something would call my attention that I'd then go and learn about. In many cases, I'd even create some sort of business or enterprise plan for a new iteration of the thing. And I really enjoy doing that. So, amazingly, it turns out that researching is my hobby.
Earlier this year, I had a fascinating conversation with some MIT folk about Human-centered Design (HCD). Wikipedia describes HCD as "an approach to problem solving that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process." HCD really interested me. I have been researching it ever since. Specifically, I've been thinking about how HCD might inform the work of TryTank. The TryTank framework has three steps: research, ideate, execute. Even though the structure was created before I started the deep dive with HCD, those of you familiar with HCD will recognize similarities.
Slowly, I've have been adding more and more research into the experiment idea process. And the more I do this work, the more I realize HCD can really help us discern where the Spirit is leading us. Think about it, a church is really all about relationships. Doesn't it make sense that those very human relationships would play into church innovation?
What this means is that I will be doing more research, both qualitative and quantitative. More interviews with people. More focus groups. More observing how people experience church and how that might change for the better. So, if you're partnering with us on an experiment, don't be surprised if I ask to visit. Researching with you is part of the work!
In a way, doing this research is an experiment itself. Might us doing the work this way lead to better trials that have a more profound impact? We're going to find out.
This is still very exciting work. And I'm glad you're with us on the way.
The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija is the founding director of the TryTank Experimental Lab.