Dee Hock is the founder and former CEO of Visa. In 1984 Hock resigned from Visa to spend 10 years in almost total isolation, working a 200 acre ranch in California.  

Wikipedia relates how, at his 1991 Business Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Hock explained his decision: “Through the years, I have greatly feared and sought to keep at bay the four beasts that inevitably devour their keeper – Ego, Envy, Avarice, and Ambition. In 1984, I severed all connections with business for a life of isolation and anonymity, convinced I was making a great bargain by trading money for time, position for liberty, and ego for contentment – that the beasts were securely caged.” Unfortunately Wikipedia does not tell us the end of the story. However anyone who knows their Bible and their own heart knows that isolation is not salvation.

Nevertheless, Hock clearly had lots of time to think. On her blog today, Linda Stone passes on Hock’s observations about how “technology is evolving us, how we are evolving technology, and how both are evolving culture.”  I think we can bypass the evolutionary bit and still benefit from the observation, especially if we apply it to sermon preparation and delivery. Hock said:

  1. Noise becomes data when it has a cognitive pattern.
  2. Data becomes information when assembled into a coherent whole, which can be related to other information.
  3. Information becomes knowledge when integrated with other information in a form useful for making decisions and determining actions.
  4. Knowledge becomes understanding when related to other knowledge in a manner useful in anticipating, judging and acting.
  5. Understanding becomes wisdom when informed by purpose, ethics, principles, memory and projection.

A successful sermon gets through all five points. Some sermons don’t get beyond “noise!” But perhaps most sermons get stuck somewhere between steps 3 and 4. The push from 3 to 4 to 5 is such hard work isn’t it?

What do you think?