Increasing Creativity and Innovation on a Tight Budget

Years ago I discovered a way to increase creativity when money is tight.

When you know you need to make a purchase, but funds are stretched and needed in so many other places too, ask yourself this question:

If you didn’t have the money, and it was something you had to do, what would you do?

This question came in handy many times as a church planter, and may have been when I used this question most frequently. I remember once a staff member asked me to consider a non-budgeted purchase. The team in this area of ministry all agreed it had to be made.

I knew as pastor we didn’t have the budgeted funds to make the purchase. I also knew there were many other areas of ministry in our church that were competing for the same limited dollars. (I wrote about this dilemma leaders face often in a previous post.)

But in that exact scenario is when the question came to me.

I asked this powerful question and then delayed in making the decision as long as I could. Honestly, I was only delaying because I didn’t have a good answer at the time. I didn’t realize people were so anxious for my reply. Apparently, it really was a NEED. A few weeks later, the staff member who presented me with the request originally came to me with a different request. They had found a way to accomplish the same need for one-fourth of the cost.

Brilliant. I didn’t know I was solving the problem by asking the question, but the delay forced us to answer the question.

If you don’t have the money, and it is something you have to do, what will you do?

Will this work every time?

No, but the use of creativity and innovation can often be avoided if there is enough money in the budget. Tight budgets cause us to look for ways to accomplish our mission for less. When this happens everyone wins, as there is more resources available for other projects.

What are some ways you have had to be creative because funds were limited?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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  • […] Increasing Creativity and Innovation on a Tight Budget by Ron Edmondson. A small budget can often feel very restricting, but Ron Edmondson argues that “Tight budgets cause us to look for ways to accomplish our mission for less,” which can lead to increased creativity and innovation. […]

  • Yohan Perera says:

    You are absolutely right… When I wanted to launch my blog (www.virtualpreacher.org) I checked with different web designing companies in my country (Sri Lanka) and got them to send me quotes. The cheapest quotes were around US $ 350 – 400!!!

    At that time I was earning much less than US $ 100 per month. The budget was very tight. I was penniless and helpless. But I didn't want to give up. So I Googgled around and found out about WordPress… Wow… It's free, opensource, huge community, support is available, free themes free plugins etc. etc. etc…. I am quite good with Computers which helped a lot…

    Recently I thought,

    "praise the Lord – that I didn't have money to hire a professional to code a blog for me. If I had money and hired a one, I would have to scratch behind him, every time I wanted to add a new feature or modify an existing one and miss all the fun"

    Once again you are absolutely right Ron…

  • Jon says:

    Question for you.
    Why did they bring you a solution that cost 4 times as much as what they finally came up with?

    I work in corporate IT. This niche is by it's very nature expensive. There are times when I know what I need, I know that it will be expensive, we budget for it and we buy it. But on a daily basis my first thought is how can I do this and do it well with the least cost? Do your people have that in the forefront of their processes? That sometimes requires research or perhaps getting expertise that may not be in the hands of your staff, but may be something that one of the congregation does on a daily basis.

    • ronedmondson says:

      It is something we are encouraging on a regular basis, but ministers are not necessarily wired for strategy and/or business principles. Thanks!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

    • Jay says:

      What you mention here about it "may be something that one of the congregation does on a daily basis"–providing the staff has an easy way to share that "need" with the congregation, or more specifically, with the people who actually have the ability…that's what TheCommon.org is all about! Would love your IT input…

      • ronedmondson says:

        I perused TheCommon.org site. I love what you are doing here. Thanks for sharing this with my readers.
        Twitter: Ronedmondson

        • Jay says:

          My pleasure! And thanks for the sounding board!

          Our goal is the same in wanting to develop churches and grow the Kingdom; strengthening communities through shared experiences. Meeting needs is basic and such a simple way to show love. It's not always easy or convenient, but it's almost always worth it, and we've seen some incredible connections made and heard life-changing stories from needs being met that never would have been shared otherwise.

          Churches using TheCommon.org are seeing more, better connections internally, are engaging non-traditional servers, and are partnering with other organizations more efficiently.

          Leaders are no longer Project Managers for every need, Church is decentralized, and the Culture becomes one where service gets into the DNA…

  • herbhalstead says:

    Ron, I could not agree more. I may have even written about this before (searching brain).

    Our vision often overreaches our budget. We labor intently in trying to get what we think needs to be done as inexpensively as possible. If, after we've exhausted this process, we cannot afford it, but still believe it is on our radar, we figure its a matter of God's timing, and move on until the timing is right.

    We recently began developing an online church experience – with zero budget. It's been challenging, but it's coming along nicely. 3 things I've learned so far:

    1 – It causes us to be innovative, not just grab the out-of-the-box solutions.
    2 – It causes us to examine the motives behind what we want to do – is this God's idea or ours?
    3 – It causes us to be flexible and embrace change – we've had to make so many changes to accommodate newly discovered avenues.

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