My hero, Peter Drucker, believed:
“For the organization to perform to a high standard, its members must believe that what it is doing is, in the last analysis, the one contribution to community and society on which all others depend.”
For more than 30 years I have believed that DeathCare makes just such a contribution. This belief makes it, in my mind, a noble profession and it is the specific reason I have chosen to plant my career flag in it. I am not persuaded otherwise by the frequent attacks made on it by outsiders. Nor am I discouraged by the knowledge that it hosts any number of ignoble characters.
For the last several weeks I have been discussing leadership. There is a disturbing absence of positive leadership in our profession. It concerns me that the current emphasis on metrics, albeit necessary for the management of the business, threatens to turn us into shop foremen instead of leaders by rewarding the mundane over the essential. after all:
“you manage a business, you lead people”
You can prove this to yourself. Who are the heroes in your firm?
- The arrangers with the highest average sale?
- Those who create repeat customers?
- Those who win over new customers among the guests attending services?
Perhaps they are the same. If so you are lucky.
When I was President of Brown-Wynne Funeral Homes some of our heroes, or should I say Heroines, didn’t have a license. Our focus was different then. We weren’t as concerned about profit-per-customer. We had a longer and bigger horizon in mind. A vision that is, in my opinion more sustainable than the direction our current metric obsession has the potential to take us. Maybe that’s why we enjoyed a 70+% market share.
A couple of comments in this video jumped out at me:
- “…are we spending our lives mired in measuring the mundane.”
- “We don’t have to choose between inspired employees and sizable profits, we can have both. In fact, inspired employees quite often help make sizable profits.”
One last point before you view this video: the point is made that “When the only tool you have is a hammer everything begins to look like a nail.” I will paraphrase his use of this as follows:
“If the Casket has been our Hammer…then our nail has been the early 20th century model of success.”
What I would do:
First, I would advise you to take an introspective step. If you are truly a “command and control” person, ignore this post. Stay the way you are. Keep your nose in your Excel worksheets. This is not for you.
If you really want your business on the right track I would share this with my key people first. We know from research that consumers see us as dark, lonely mysterious places. What would it be like if we could overcome that?
Then I would view the video together and ask the questions he has asked. How, why, who.
Finally, I would commit to weekly meetings to pursue this agenda.
DeathCare is on the cusp, like so many other industries and professions, of transformational reinvention. Many practitioners will mistake dressing up what we have to sell as reinvention. It is not. For us to succeed means we must leave the place we are and become something that may surprise even us. We must transform the image consumers have of us so that they see us as the place they can go for solutions to their problem.