I spent an entire day with technical artists from around the world yesterday during the Technical Director’s Retreat Day hosted by the WFX Conference in Dallas. It was inspiring and reassuring; sobering and sad, all at the same time. It is great to see so many churches working hard to make a difference in the world through the use of production technology. It was amazing to be surrounded by fellow technical artists trying to get better at their craft while trying to help each other through issues we all face. On the sobering and sad side were the people who are at the end of their rope, who feel misunderstood by their leadership, and who are ready to throw in the towel.
There was one universal theme that stuck out to me that all of us, as technical artists can work on: Defining Expectations.
At one table I sat with, pretty much everyone had issues with expectations. Whether it was what a senior pastor really wanted, or if it was being realistic about how long something would take to accomplish or how much something would cost; expectations were lacking at many churches. The thing about expectations and the technical arts is that for most non-technical people, things just magically happen, and there is no understanding of what it actually takes. If we need someone to define expectations for us, we have to push them, we have to help them define them, we need to have data that supports our perspective.
Leaders need information and to say you don’t have enough time or money is an answer that doesn’t work for most senior leaders I know. They need to understand what you need to do the job, not just that you need more than you have now. The next time you work on a video project, document how much time each phase of production took. Now you have defined, with this much time and this much money, that this is the product you can expect. Documenting how you spend your time is an amazing tool to communicate reality so that expectations can be set.
There is an apt quote in Charles Dickens’ book “Great Expectations”:
“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”
Work with your leaders now to define what can be expected and change the outcome of your next project.