I was asked the question the other day from one of my closest friends, “What business are you in?” Now considering that he’s a close friend, he knew exactly what I sold and into what market place I sold it, but the question is one that needed to be asked, and asked on a regularly basis.
The context for that particular morning’s conversation was business excellence and the continued honing of our skill sets etc., etc. So naturally my mind tended to analyze such a question from the typical business bent, even rephrasing it into the particulars such as…
… is Bertolini Sanctuary Seating a marketing driven company that has chosen to market the best church chair on the planet?
…or are we a manufacturing company that strives to manufacture a product (church chairs) with unparalleled value for the particular market we serve?
…or are we a sourcing company that looks for the best materials on the planet to repackage or reconfigure into a product (church chairs) that sells to the masses?
…or are we a company that designs and value engineers products (church chairs) to exceed our customers needs?
…does the product (church chairs) we market and build need to be a chair or are we building skills set that apply to any product we set out to market and build?
…where would someone like Jim Collins with his hedgehog theory, place Bertolini Sanctuary Seating when it comes to this simple but important question?
Okay, as the leader of an organization with an annual business plan, and core values that hang on our conference room walls, and mission statements that we memorize, and a code of ethics that we adhere to, and standards and that need to be met (all very important, just not the stuff that going to last through eternity, and often not what gets me up in the morning), I have to ask what is this question really asking?
“What business are you in?”
So here is the point my close friend was helping to remind me of…
Yes, it’s true as a company we need to execute and wrestle through all of the business disciplines that are listed above; but at the end of the day, as the leader of that organization, I have the same obligation to the people that call Bertolini Sanctuary Seating their home as a local church pastor has to their congregation. What that means is that I will train them, hold them accountable, encourage them, and cast vision to ensure that they continue to have a positive impact on their families, on each other, on our customers and on our communities.
When you look at in those terms, the business that I am in is the people business. As a Christian who has been given the opportunity to lead, my primary role in business is to mentor and build up people who demonstrate the core values that hang on our conference room walls, who live out the mission statements that we memorize, who exemplify the code of ethics that we adhere to, who successfully implement the standards that need to be met. All in a way that exemplifies Gods love. While this is not always easy to do, it is the only business activity that will pay eternal dividends throughout the years.