Communications Inside West Ridge

Work Smarter, Not Harder

March 11, 2013

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first hour sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

The most successful projects I’ve been a part of have one thing in common: at the beginning, time was taken to establish the problem needing to be solved and the objective of the project. Without this crucial beginning, the failure rate, frustration and time wasted grew exponentially.

In my early days of working primarily with design and websites, I would get a project and jump right into creating. I would open up Photoshop and get to work. Occasionally, I would end up with something good. The majority of the time, I would find myself stuck because I had no foundation to work from or filter to make decisions by. I was working harder, not smarter. This was difficult when working by myself, but chaotic when working with a team.

Use this 5 step process for getting projects from problem to solution:

Define the objective

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What does success look like?
  • Who needs to be involved to make this a success?

Map out timeline

  • Map out the plan to meet the objective.
  • Start backwards from the target finish date and build a timeline that works for team.
  • Build milestones along the way to stay on track.


  • Execute the plan.
  • Filter decisions on if it helps solve the problem.


  • Get feedback and critique on what is right, wrong, missing and confusing.

Deliver & Critique

  • Measure success of the project by if it met the objective.
  • Celebrate the wins and learn from things that didn’t work.

Case Study – Groups Video

In January of 2013, we had a GroupLink event at West Ridge designed to get people in our church connected in small groups. Through talking with our Small Groups Pastor, we discovered there were some consistent barriers for people getting engaged in small groups. We would consistently hear from people things like “I don’t have enough time”, “Isn’t it just a Bible study?” and “I don’t know enough about the Bible to be in a small group”.

To help solve this problem of small group misconceptions, we shared a simple story with our church of a couple who overcame those barriers. The only objective of this video was to break down barriers for people engaging with small groups. Turns out, it worked! This video played a part in one of our biggest turnouts ever for GroupLink. We saw more people than ever join or start new groups, with many of them pointing back to the video as the reason why. It met the objective.

Before you start a project, or chop down a tree, sharpen the axe. Work smarter, not harder.