the difference between a professional and a volunteer

A Professional can cover his mistakes...most of the time.

A Volunteer doesn't have the experience or knowledge to do such and therefore watches the mistake explode in all of its glory for all to see.

Ever watch a cat fall off of something? It usually gets right back up and either has this look of confidence "I meant to do that!" or this look of disgust "Who pushed me and caused me to fall!".

That is a Professional.

the point of diminishing return

So where is the spot where things are Excellent but still not Perfect?

In the recording world there is a saying that you can work on a song forever. But if you never stop working on it, you will never get it out to the public. So what good is that? So old saying goes that you should ask yourself this question....

Will the little old lady listening on the radio in her convertible hear what I am doing? (or.. Will the audience notice what I am doing?) If the answer is yes, then continue. If the answer is no, then stop working on that and continue on to the next thing.

That is the point of diminishing return.

But how does this translate into live production? Even if you are being paid by salary, you are costing your organization money every hour you put into something. So if you are spending hours working on something that the audience will not even notice, then you are wasting not only your time but also your employer's money.

We were preparing props for a live event. The Creative insisted that we put these little clear glass beads on these tables that were put on and off the stage. Because I was under the person, My stage crew was forced to deal with these little loose beads that wanted to roll all over when hauling these tables. And, we only had 2 minutes to get them on the stage during a blackout. We pulled it off, but because the stage is higher than the flat floor, the audience could not see them at all. Because the beads were so small, they were not even noticeable in the camera feeds as well. It was all done for the ego of the one person.

In my television classes in college there was one point that was hammered into us. Everything done must be proven as meeting an audience need. That is whole point of all productions and even religious services. When you start doing things that is beyond that, you are at the point of diminishing return.

grace for humanity

Beware of loosing your grace for humanity when working with volunteers.

In today's entertainment there are very few live events and even fewer done without lots of practice. On TV you have sports, news, awards shows, and SNL. Everything else is shot and edited, making it able to cover mistakes (yet how many continuity mistakes are seen even in those productions?). Most touring events, whether plays or concerts, have many weeks of rehearsals. Most awards shows have weeks of rehearsals that people don't realize happen as well.

Because we are so surrounded by these perfected programs, it has become an assumption that church techs should be able to pull off something perfect without any rehearsals with a new something each week. There seems to be a lack of understanding that even the true live events have a massive staff of professionals to cover their specialty niche of the production. Yet, in the church world, they can't afford professionals and demand that volunteers pull off the same quality.

Superbowl 2011 halftime was criticized in the media for having so many mistakes. I read an article in a trade mag written by someone on that tech crew. You see because of the freak weather, there were not any rehearsals. So the crew of highly trained professionals (these are some of the same guys that pull off other major events like the Grammys and such) made mistakes that you would normally not see on a major national event. This shows that even professionals, not given the opportunity to rehearse, are human as well.

Now think about the insanity of what many churches are asking of their volunteers and blaming their single staff person for not pulling off... a perfect service every week?

Organizations that utilize volunteers need to find and keep a grace for humanity in clear view.

perfection vs excellence

It seems that some people see these two concepts as being the same when in all actuality, they are not.

You see I am diabetic. I check my blood sugar periodically with a blood sample and a glucometer. But when I see my doctor, I get an A1c test. The glucometer gives me an instant reading of the blood sugar at that moment. I can test again in an hour and the results will be different. But the A1c test gives a general view over 3 months. Both tests are important because I might be all concerned over the details of each glucometer test but when I see the doctor, I find out that my overall success is actually pretty good.

So what does this have to do with perfection and excellence. Perfection is a goal but it is rarely attainable (some would argue never attainable), but Excellence is the result of reaching for Perfection over time. But just because something is Excellent, doesn't mean it is Perfect. And likewise, just because something isn't Perfect doesn't mean it isn't Excellent.

So the pursuit of Perfection is admirable but not consistantly attainable, because we are all human and make mistakes. But the pursuit of Excellence is attainable, even with flaws.