What are some of the biggest mistakes businesses have made recently? Are camp and conference leaders at risk of making the same blunders?
TheStreet.com, a financial news and comment Web site, reported in an Oct. 18 article about the “5 Biggest Business Mistakes” large companies have made recently, most notably the decisions (or lack thereof) that led to Blockbuster filing for bankruptcy.
Here is a summary of those top five “critical business mistakes” and the companies that made them:
1. Failure to recognize and respond to a changing environment. (Blockbuster)
2. Not paying adequate attention to the customer experience. (ToysRUs)
3. Failing to develop a cost-effective, customer-centric infrastructure. (Sears)
4. Using inadequate hiring practices. (Borders, which has had four CEOs since 2005)
5. Not implementing a system to ensure accountability. (BP)
You can read for yourself this brief article and perhaps see parallels to what we do in the camp and conference world. I can see relevance for our movement and for my job in each of the five mistakes.
1. Are we aware of the changing demands or expectations of our market (i.e., today’s camp and conference guests)? Are we asking them what they want, and are we watching the trends in culture and in the hospitality industry? If we fail to respond to changing needs, we could end up like Blockbuster—out of touch and potentially out of business.
2. Apparently ToysRUs hasn’t spent enough time walking in their customers’ shoes. But creating a positive, potentially life-changing guest experience is one of the hallmarks of camp and conference ministry. It is critical that we stay in touch with the way guests respond to what we offer. Where point 1, above, focuses on market trends and looks at what potential camp/conference guests may grow to expect from the industry as a whole, this point considers what individual guests experience on your property, from arrival to departure.
3. The words cost-effective ring out from this line about infrastructure. Do we use an online registration process? Does it work for our guests? Or does it leave them frustrated? And if we implemented it to help save money while making it easier on our prospective guests, is that the actual result we’ve experienced? Or, like Sears, are we forced to spend extra staff time (and therefore, money) compensating for what the system does not do?
4. Hiring well is one of the hardest things for most leaders and organizations to master. We know what we want and need, and we think the candidate at the top of the list can help us accomplish our mission through a specific role. But are our hiring practices sound, reliable and repeatable? If not, we may end up re-hiring again and again, like Borders.
5. This seems so basic: Who is responsible? Where does the buck stop? Who has authority to make decisions in any situation that might arise at camp? If any process or project does not have a leader assigned to it, blaming, dodging and finger pointing are likely to occur, just as with the BP oil spill. Who is in charge of what?
This week, the CCCA national office staff held an offsite enrichment day, and several of these issues came up in our discussion. We took time to ask and answer the questions, “What are we doing well?” and “What can we improve upon?” I was encouraged by our team’s engagement and participation as we talked about how we can serve members better. And I think we may have begun dialogue that can help prevent CCCA from making, or even passively allowing, some of the kinds of mistakes listed above.
We also spent a good deal of time revisiting our vision and mission, which sparked good ideas and comments, but most importantly, reminded us all of why we are here.
Regrouping, refocusing and listening to each other can provide tremendously valuable insight, even to the point of helping us avoid some of the biggest mistakes made by businesses and ministries. Have you set aside time recently for such an exercise? Any advice for others who are interested in doing the same?