Lessons From the Field
Feb 21, 2011
In my work as a consultant I have the good fortune to meet and interview all types of people. I interview everyone from Board members, community leaders, internal staff, housekeepers to executives. It is always my delight when I meet someone who is “real”; someone who is comfortable in their own skin, with a sensibility about life and not trying to impress anyone. I know when I have found one of the truth tellers because I get “truth- bumps” (AKA good bumps) when I talk with them.
These people are everywhere, sometimes in the most unexpected places. I was recently in a small rural town in the south conducting a program assessment. I met a Board of Directors member who had been the Chief Operating Officer of the largest privately owned agricultural chemical company in the world. Not in the largest in the USA, but in the world!
How did that happen? This man came from humble beginnings of picking cotton, stripping tobacco and working on his grandfathers farm to becoming the COO of an international company. A company that started in that small town in the rural south.
Did his experiences of growing the chemical company have any correlation to growing a hospice?
“What did it take to compete with the big boys?” I asked.
“You’ve got to have the heart and horsepower to make hard changes, you have to be able to be nimble and you can’t do things the way you have always done them if you are behind” he said with a smile.
“You have to have the heart to remove someone if they aren’t doing their job and you have to have the horsepower (people) with the right skills and perspective to move the company beyond the current problem” he further added.
“What did you do to compete?” I asked.
“Sometimes we had to pay more to have our display at the front of the farm supply stores so our products were the first thing customers saw when they walked in and the last thing they saw when they left the store”. “And we developed relationships with our customers; we were the small, family owned company who wanted to meet the needs of our neighbors; and we strategically decided our neighbors were all around the world”.
These principles apply not only to the international fertilizer industry but can be applied to hospice care, or to any other business as well. Here are his suggestions for success:
- Be nimble
- Don’t keep doing things you have always done if they no longer work!
- Have Heart and Horsepower to make change happen
- Be competitive
- Don’t expect customers will remember you just because you have been around the longest or are “local”
- Expand your neighborhood and be a good neighbor
Are you competing or complaining? Decide to meet the needs of YOUR neighbors, then begin!