Rebounding isn’t what we think it is

Having just read this from Marginal Revolution15899410007_68d3927ba1_z, here are a couple of thoughts about rebounding (we are in the middle of March Madness).
The article makes an interesting claim – that the this year’s two best NBA rebounders don’t “block out”. ** Blocking out means making (usually violent) contact with the nearest opponent as soon as you realize a shot has been taken. Coaches from elementary school to the NBA teach blocking out and it’s pretty much accepted as gospel that “great rebounders block out.” Except they don’t – at least this year in the NBA.

In fact, it turns out that the two best rebounders (statistically) in the NBA this year only “block out” 5 and 10 times per hundred shots (respectively). Take DeAndre Jordan (rebounding maestro of the LA Clippers) – his team rebounds better when he’s not in the game. That is,

the Clippers get to more missed shots when the NBA’s leading rebounder is NOT on the floor.

How can that be?

Simple, Jordan doesn’t box out. Around 95% of the time, he goes straight to the glass and grabs the rebound. But here’s the interesting part – he’s taking rebounds from his teammates.

To understand this, consider the ‘ideal rebounding team’. What coaches envision in the ideal rebounding team is one where all five defenders make perfect block out contact with each of the offensive players. 263317276_bfed2f0f74_zThe benefit of this (for the defensive team) is maximum real estate – where the rebound will land. If I or my 4 other teammates control that landing spot on the court, we get the rebound. But that doesn’t happen very often (even though coaches dream about it and even talk as though their team does it every possession. Just go to the Nike coaches clinic in Vegas and listen then watch that coaches’ team on video. There’s a huge gap between reality and desire.)

In fact, it doesn’t happen on the Clippers – when DeAndre Jordan is on the floor. He doesn’t box out, he goes to the glass. And at least some of the time he’s taking rebounds from teammates. This is good for Jordan’s stats, but bad for the Clippers. Why? Because they’re not maximizing their rebounding every possession. It’s great for Jordan, because his agent can say to the Clippers (and other NBA suitors)

“He’s the best rebounder in the game. Pay accordingly.”

But his individual maximization isn’t the Clippers’s team maximization. They would actually be better off if Jordan ‘boxed out’ more than 5 times per 100.

Which brings us to Doc Rivers, the Clippers (future hall of fame) coach.

  • What should he do?
  • What can he do?

These aren’t the same question.
Doc Rivers should try to get Jordan to “box out” more. If he truly wants the Clippers to win more games that will mean getting more Clippers rebounds. ** Rebounds limit your opponent’s extra shots and give you more extra shots.
What he’ll probably do is keep Jordan happy and let him swipe the glass without boxing out more than 5% of the time? Why? Because it looks like Jordan is a great rebounder and it’ll keep him happy.

Customers – for church

helpWho do you want to help?

Who you believe Jesus misses the most?

I know, he loves everyone, but who does he like?

If you want to know, ask yourself an easier question: Who do I like?

Guess what. Jesus likes them too.

How do I know?

Because Jesus likes you and he likes me. So of course he likes our friends.

When you consider your church’s customers you have to focus on two things:

  • Who do I know (and like)?
  • Who’s local?

Liking matters. Don’t discount it. Humans have been doing business with family for thousands of years. Why? Because in low-trust environments, blood is way thicker than water.

If I can see you, or sit at a table with you, there’s a much greater chance I’ll trust you. If we’re Twitter friends, I’ll find you entertaining, but trust is still a long way away.

Facetime is primetime.  facetimeWe trust people we can see. So flip it around. If you want to know who your customers are, think about who you’re seeing – today, or this week.

These are your potential customers. These are the people who can tell you their story – and listen to yours. If you don’t know them, they can’t know you. Facetime is primetime.

This primetime is also local. If you drive the same streets, get coffee at the same haunts, get groceries at the same market, that’s common ground. Common ground is the only currency when it comes to deep, spiritual work.


Because we have to know each other’s names. The rules change when we learn each others names – and we need the rules to change. We have to trust each other. No trust = no chance.

To see this think about 2 circles: your church and your community.

2 Circles

Notice two things. Every church sits inside a bigger community and the community is always bigger than the church.

Let’s redraw that picture though – it’s not quite right.

gray area




This shaded area is crucial. It’s your space. Sure, you spend time in and with a church, but that’s not the extent of your community. We go to soccer games with community (non-church) people. We watch the Seahawks with all kinds of people. Why?

Because we like them & they like us.

This shaded circle is the like-circle (yours & your church’s) potential customers.

If we really want to understand this shaded circle we have to shift from bounded-set to centered-set. Imagine two churches: A & B.

Church A looks like this:Bounded Set

It has a very distinct boundary between itself and the community. Sure you can come in from the community – if you agree to the rules, the dress-code and the statement of faith. (Lie detector tests may be administered without prior notice. Sort of kidding.)

Church A has a hard boundary. Like a surgeon protecting her sterile field, Church A is vigilant for germs.

Church B looks like this:open boundary

There’s a boundary between Church B and the community but it’s permeable. Church B is also trying to move (individually & corporately) toward the center inside the circle (let’s call that the Jesus dot.)

Church A is a bounded-set church. You’re either in or out. Church A is binary. Church B is a center-set church. There’s no clear in or out. We’re just all trying to get ever closer to the Jesus dot.

Remember that like-circle? That’s where we get to go seriously center-set.

By prayer, solitude and reflection, we’ll find out who Jesus is missing the most – who he really likes.

To understand the like-circle, we have to go ancient – all the way back to the 14th century. A 14th century monk once said, “Pray until you have to do, or do until you have to pray.”

Putting his words into practice we get this:

pray doWe can start at either end. If you know what to do or who to do it with, then start doing. Keep doing until you have to pray.

If we don’t know what to do, that’s fine. Pray. Pray for who in that like-circle Jesus misses the most. The Spirit is quite good at telling us “who”.

If you have a who, great. What about what to do? Pray about that too.

The most powerful thing you can do – at that point – is to pray behind their backs. Go ahead. It’s America. Don’t tell them, that’ll wreck it. Just pray – for them.

Eventually – you’ll get an idea. Something you can do with or for them. It’ll feel like you thought of it yourself. That’s OK. Blame God if you want. Don’t do it yet. Keep praying.

Eventually you have to do it. You just will. Now you’re on the doing side. Keep doing it until you have to pray.

Our customer problem in the church has nothing to do with marketing, digital presence or biblical thinking. The problem is us – and our lack of imagination.

When it comes to imagination, we’re impoverished. We literally can’t think of the people (names and faces) that Jesus misses the most. The good news is we don’t have to think of them ourselves.

It’s only on us to ask. The technical word for this is prayer.

Jesus said the fields were white with harvest. Clearly he was seeing something the disciples weren’t.

Here’s the really good news – Jesus isn’t selfish. He wants us to see with (his and his Dad’s) eyes. He wants us to share his vision – so it’s ours and his.

But – we have to ask. “If anyone will open the door, I will come in and dine with him.” He’ll share. Facetime is primetime.

Post-retirement Boomer Church

Here are Bob Lefsetz’s predictions for 2015.

My favorite is:

14. Baby boomers will continue to run the music business. No significant change will happen until they retire, which is at least a half decade off.

Applied to the church, I’d say it this way:

Baby boomers will continue to run the church. No significant change will happen until they die (or get too old to care), which is at least a half decade off.

In the music business, I get it. Those damned Boomers have spent their whole lives waiting for the payoff in control of the money machine. In church, I don’t.

The founder of our movement, a working stiff (carpenter), told us two things about just this sort of situation:

      Don’t lord it over each other when you do get your hands on the levels of the machine.
      If you want to keep your life, you’ll lose it.

This isn’t complicated. Church Booomers can’t have it both ways. Talking to them, I hear them wanting simultaneous things happening:

      Keep this church exactly like it is. (I like it this way.) &
      I want you (younger generation) to come right now.

The youngers have shown they’re not interested. They’re voting with their feet and those feet aren’t coming into your church. So you’re left with two options:

  1. Stop complaining about their ‘not coming’. If you want to keep it like it is, fine. It’s America. Nobody is forcing your church to change. But you do have to stop complaining. You want it your way. Cool, keep it that way.  But you don’t get to complain about their no-shows.
  2. Try something and see if the no-shows show up. As a mentor used to say to me,

“Jeff you can’t look at that problem and have it stare back at you, or you can try to do something about it.”

Lefsetz is right, nothing’s gonna change for a while. But it should would be nice if it did.

Paramount Records just wanted to sell furniture

My Human Geography class is studying culture right now. Specifically the difference between popular and folk. As I was preparing for that, I remember watching this Charlie Rose interview with Jack Black.

Black makes a couple of important points:

    Paramount was only interested in selling furniture (they didn’t care about the music)
    They would put anyone in front of the microphone if they thought they could sell 10 records
    They exposed the greater United States to a whole bunch of different kinds of music that would have long-lasting cultural impacts.

It reminds me of Gary Vee’s post about depth. As Jack Black says, “Each of these people – women and minorities – are getting to tell their stories in their own voice.”

Here’s the Spotify list that will give you a portion of the Paramount period.

“God created war so Americans would learn geography”

I heard this quote on the Tim Ferris show with Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding. During the show, Potts mentions this quote (attributed to Mark Twain):

God created war so Americans would learn geography.

Being a human geography teacher, I know this to be true. Many of my students don’t remember 9/11, they were toddlers or smaller. They don’t remember our 2nd go-round in Iraq, much less the first in 1990-91.
So when Obama gives a speech about ISIL, they wonder several things:

  • What is he talking about?
  • Where in the world are the places he’s talking about?

Vox (in their 14 maps that explain ISIS) has done a great job of showing this critical geography to us.  Here’s one of the maps that shows ISIS control.

isis control vox mapIn our Theory of Knowledge class this past week, we assigned groups of students to represent each of the players involved:

  • Turkey
  • ISIS
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Kurds
  • Israel

What’s amazing is how fast my students could get up to speed on the complexity and dynamics of the region.  Secondly, when each group presented what their country wanted, you get a sense of the challenge involved.  Every country wants something different in this part of the world and there’s very little commonality.

Regardless of what you (or I) think should happen in this part of the world, or what American involvement should be, we should take Twain’s advice and learn the geography – if for no other reason than it’s a gift (divine or otherwise).


Mid-terms are not Presidential elections but they could be close

One of my AP US History students asked me if this was the most that a party had controlled the House of Representatives. I didn’t know so we looked it up.
Here’s what we found:
Combined--Control of the U.S. House of Representatives - Control of the U.S. Senate.png
Combined–Control of the U.S. House of Representatives – Control of the U.S. Senate” by ChrisnHoustonFile:Control of the U.S. Senate.PNG
File:Control of the U.S. House of Representatives.PNG. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Look at the second box (that’s the House).

Turns out in the 1940’s the Democrats controlled almost 80% of the House. Republicans have 244 out of 435, so they’re getting there (56%). To reach those 1940’s #’s the GOP would have to win almost 90 more seats.

Then my student asked a different question:

Does a whooping in the House mean the GOP will win the 2016 presidency?

Not so fast. Why? Because the geographic map (top-right) is misleading. We have to pay attention to where the populations are located. As Obama showed in 2008 & 2012, winning the cities by enough to offset the rural areas was a winning gig.
Here’s a population proportional map of the House.

Where the voters are still matters. It’s not real estate, it’s voters. We’ll see in 2016.

1st Step to a Better Meeting? Admit the 1 you just ran sucked

H/T to Fast Company for this.
I try to stay out of meetings as much as possible. I find them brutal and these ‘types’ in this video are immediately recognizable.

If a meeting is inevitable, I propose these three things:

  1. Follow Jason Fried’s advice and don’t have the meeting in the first place.
  2. Follow Seth Godin’s advice and do not ask this question
  3. If you must have a meeting, plan, plan, plan it well. As the great John Wooden once said:

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Catalonia, Presidents and Flags

Will Catalonia secede from Spain? This Nation article seems to think so.

    Here’s a key quote:

“For Spain, the secession of Catalonia—and the Basque Country, which wouldn’t take long to follow—would mean the departure of two of its wealthiest regions and would therefore be a significant loss.”

But Colm dismissed my argument:

“But this loss would bring about greater political stability. It would be advantageous for everybody.”

As Juan Enriquez says, “People assume stability where there isn’t any.”

Juan Enriquez – PopTech 2006 from PopTech on Vimeo.

In his book, The Untied States of America, he shows how

No U.S. President has ever been buried under the same flag he was born under.

Catalonia and Spain are in a similar space.

Why the Blazers are Smoking the NW

We’re only 5 – 7 games into the new NBA season, but I like this early look at why the Portland Trailblazers are so much better than the rest of the Northwest Division.

I compared a team’s offensive and defensive efficiencies with the current NBA average. Obviously, you want positive numbers (above the league average). The Blazers are solid on both fronts, the Jazz only on one. What they get on one end of the floor, they give away at the other end.

The Thunder are obviously missing their two stars and the Timberwolves are missing K-Love.