Power of Imagination and Vision in Leadership

In “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes,” Maria Konnikova discusses the power of imagination for solving problems. One of the traits of Holmes was to be able to separate facts from conjecture. Then, he used the power imagination to assemble and re-assemble the facts until he hits upon a solution.

Bill Hybels, founder and leader of the Willow Creek Community Church, discussed a couple of weeks ago his vision of a way to build community (or communities) among the 6,000 or so people who attend each of the three weekend services.

Backing up a little, when Hybels was in his early 20s, he was captured by a vision of how a church could be. Called an Acts 2 church, it was an organization that spread because of the changed lives of the people. As he executed the vision over the past 30 years or so, he continues to hold the vision and to try to keep it going.

Another vision came to him. People usually sit in the same section. Ever notice that even in large conferences, people will sit at the same table each day for the keynotes? Well, Hybels noticed it. Fact plus imagination plus vision.

Why not build communities of the people who always sit together, but who probably never interact more than to say, “Hi?” He imagined a gathering of the people in the group periodically. A leader of the section who would assume the leadership role of welcoming people, organizing short small group gatherings.

Then Hybels took the next step of leading the effort himself. He has a large staff. He could have delegated. He had a personal vision of the community he imagined.

They began to recruit section leaders. Every week, he teaches and interacts with them. This was how he implemented the vision.

Vision, imagination, action. A powerful combination.

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