Less Clutter, Less Noise: 2) Is it always better to have more choices?

scissorsIf you know me, you know I love Chipotle. Whether in Philadelphia or Pueblo, CO the beauty of Chipotle’s menu is its simplicity and dependability. I usually get the same thing, Chicken Soft Tacos with black beans, pico de gallo, sour cream and lettuce…and don’t forget the chips & guac with a Diet Coke. It’s been that way for years – and I don’t see it changing any time soon. What I love is that Chipotle has done a masterful job of dumbing the menu down for me – helping me with my menu choices instead of offering me too much which could leave me disappointed and not wanting to come back another time. Chipotle provides minimal choices that they do outstandingly well. Even if I (God forbid) changed my mind and ordered a carnitas burrito with extra cheese, I know I would be getting quality at a good price.

As I have been thinking about today’s blog, I am struck by the importance of the points Kem Meyer makes in the second chapter of Less Clutter, Less Noise. How often do we in church leadership feel the need the compulsion to let everyone know everything we do in hopes that everyone will get involved in every area of the church and live as one happy, harmonious family? (Read that again to feel the weight of that sentence) And what’s the disastrous result? Too much clutter, too much noise. Kem says, “Life is overwhelming enough as it is. Your church or organization shouldn’t be piling more on top of an already mounting problem, especially when people are looking for answers that will make a difference.” So ask yourself, what is my mission at my job? To confuse and frustrate people? Definitely not. I hope you resonate with the mission statement that we hold close to our vest in the Communications Department at Christ Community Church, “Remove barriers that keep people from experiencing all of Jesus.”

We have worked hard to create environments and experiences that are honoring to our congregation and that take their needs into consideration first…not the other way around. This has not happened over night. It has been a conscious effort to view our ministry from the eyes of the consumer. Kem is a genius at this type of strategy that puts the value on the person and their experience rather than simply puffing up the organization. Kem also believes that at the end of the day, having choices is not a bad thing. The disservice we do to our audience is not presenting those choices in appropriate and honoring ways that produce satisfied customers (that are connected to Jesus).

When was the last time you viewed your communications pieces with the eyes of your audience? Are you overwhelmed with disappointment that you don’t know where to begin or what are the logical next steps? In one of Seth Godin’s recent blogs, he also points out a pitfall to too much communication, “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit. And it’s hard to go backward. More is not always better. In fact, more is almost never better.”

So don’t be afraid to cut, trim, take out, take away, reduce, edit, simplify, and even eliminate (did I just say that?) and then repeat steps where necessary.

Questions to consider:

  1. Where do I need to cut, trim the fat, and edit so the most important is truly “most important”?
  2. Where am I (or what I am producing is) getting in the way of people experiencing the fullness of Jesus?

1) The Myth: You Are In Control of Communication <– Less Clutter, Less Noise project –> 3) The Myth: Advertising Creates Interest

Brian is currently serving as Communications Director for Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL. A graduate of Messiah College, Brian has spent a good deal of his career in Philadelphia, Colorado Springs and most recently in the Chicago suburbs. Brian loves his wife, kids, Italian beef from Portillo's and his iPad...and yes, in that order.

26 Responses to “Less Clutter, Less Noise: 2) Is it always better to have more choices?”

  1. Nicole Lamarre Jan 14, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Excellent article, Brian. We were talking about this very thing in a communications meeting last week. I am thinking it's time to re-read Less Clutter, Less Noise :).

    • Thanks Nicole…I think I'm going to keep it as a must read 1x every year to stay fresh. Hope all is well at Point Harbor!

  2. Love your presentation of this chapter. Needed to hear again " Kem is a genius at this type of strategy that puts the value on the person and their experience rather than simply puffing up the organization. Kem also believes that at the end of the day, having choices is not a bad thing. "

    All this reminds me that sometimes I forget my primary audience. If I do that, all is lost.

    Thanks Brian.

    • True that, Wayne! The sad fact is they'll easily forget you too… One of the most important lessons I have learned this year is the importance of recognizing our communication is a two-way street and requires both sides to achieve success.

  3. PaulSteinbrueck Jan 14, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Brian, thanks for leading the conversation with today's blog post. I love the mission statement of your communications department: “Remove barriers that keep people from experiencing all of Jesus.” It really makes it clear that you're priority is to serve the people instead of promote the church.

    That statement is right in line with this insightful statement Kem makes in the chapter, "The value we provide grows in direct proportion to how easily people can find and say yes to their next step." More options we present, the more confusing the choice becomes, the harder it becomes for people to figure out which option is best for them, and the less likely they are to respond at all.

    • Thanks Paul…I'm also fond of the phrase Clutter Creep…pretty soon, we all become overwhelmed by so much information, we should be featured on the show, Hoarders!

  4. Beautifully written

  5. Well done, little brother. You continue to make us all proud. I have not yet read LessClutter, Less Noise but feel compelled to buy it as a result of your summary.

    Don't worry about putting me on your list of items you love :)

    • Whew…that's a load off my mind.

      BTW – everyone in ministry should read the book, it's not just for Communications Directors. Makes a great stocking stuffer!

  6. Buy it, read it, people. :) Great post Brian!

  7. Well spoken. All about keeping it simple…the less the better.

  8. Brian, thanks so much for this post. We struggle with the "too many choices" at our church. We have soooo many ministries, mission opportunities and things that people are doing (most are very God honoring things), that it is easy for guests and even members to get lost in the noise. This year it is my goal as Communications Director to radically simplify our messages and our communication pieces. I have been feeling this ever since I read Kem's book last Summer. I am looking forward to it…the message of Christ is so simple and it can get lost in all the "clutter". I believe Less Clutter Less Noise is an anointed message for all of us who are ambassadors of His message. I am on a high and can't wait to read what others feel. Thanks again to Paul, this is rockin my world.

    • Sarah…I wish you Godspeed in 2011 as you seek to simplify and de-clutter your communication. I can't tell you how freeing it is – but it's going to take you a while…so hunker down for a long winter. I encourage you to bring as many key leaders into the discussion because your simplification will be a reflection of what's most important at your church. Look forward to hearing how things go for you. Drop me a note and keep me up to speed on your progress!

  9. Great summary! I am all for ministry that is simple, focused and intentional!!

  10. What a great summary – when I read this chapter I hit myself over the head a few times. We are struggling big time with communication – how do we get information out to people in the best possible way? Some people want to know every little detail of things we are doing – and constantly ask "how do we get this information out there?" So in trying to please them, we probably publicize more things than necessary – in more forms than necessary. I'm not sure that I know the answer to what it is we stop saying – but this chapter (and your summary) helps me think about it in a new way.

    • Hey Crystal…thanks for posting. What I would recommend is a complete shift in thinking. If your information is that important, people will find it. So make sure the info you provide is simple, accurate and has clear next steps. By a process of elimination, you will find out what is most important to your congregation than the other way around.

  11. What Kem is saying in this chapter applies to all communication and I thought I'd apply it to websites specifically.

    I work a lot with websites and one thing I find is that in just about every organization, everyone (every ministry, department, etc) wants to be on the homepage or have a link to their page of the website put prominently on the homepage. And I've seen homepages where exactly that seemed to happen. The homepage was really long and appeared to link to everything on the site.

    It seems simple enough, if your ministry is on the homepage, you will get more attention. But what a lot of people don't think about is that adding something doesn't just add attention to that ministry, it also takes away attention from all the other ministries on the site. The more links you put on the homepage, the less each of those links is worth because visitors are less likely to see it or pay attention to it.

    It's important to decide what are the most important things are that we want to communicate from a website and focus on those things on the homepage. That means being willing to say, "no" to adding things to the page…or taking some off.

    • Great points Kurt! Sometimes we need to ebb and flow and realize the world doesn't always revolve around us and that there will be seasons when our information rises to the surface and is of such great importance, everyone needs to read it.

  12. Someone once told me the most important things in an art gallery are not the pieces on display, but what's in basement. If you make everything important, nothing is important.
    I am taking a serious look at how much information we put out there, and what methods of communication we need for each.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Less Clutter, Less Noise: Kicking Off the Group Blog Project | Christian Web Trends Blog - Jan 14, 2011

    [...] 2 [...]

  2. Tweets that mention Less Clutter, Less Noise: 2) Is it always better to have more choices? | Christian Web Trends Blog -- Topsy.com - Jan 14, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by OurChurch (dot) Com and Phil Makower. Phil Makower said: RT @kemmeyer: Less Clutter. Less Noise. Myth #2: Mo choices! by Brian Beatty- http://bit.ly/eik9P5 (@OurChurchDotCom) Join the convo. [...]

  3. Less Clutter, Less Noise: 3) The Myth: Advertising Creates Interest | Christian Web Trends Blog - Jan 17, 2011

    [...] 2) Is it always better to have more choices? <– Less Clutter, Less Noise Christ follower, husband, father, bald guy, church communications director, massage therapist, Jesus freak, wanna be writer… Twitter: @rickphillips communications advertising, Less Clutter Less Noise, marketing Less Clutter, Less Noise: 2) Is it always better to have more choices? [...]