“It’s an obsession with sticking to the core business, and doing everything possible to defend & extend it — even when rates of return are unacceptable and there is a constant struggle to improve valuation.”–source
The chart above illustrates Wal-Mart Disease best–on the surface there are no glaring signs of trouble–it’s the lack of significant growth that foreshadows the upcoming challenges.
The article describes it another way:
“Doing more of what it’s always done – hopefully a little better, faster and cheaper.”–source
If your ministry has experienced a plateau then there is an opportunity for innovation and change that can lead to significant growth. Micro-improvements that make your events, leaders, and volunteers a little bit better will never lead to the future that God has called you to.
Here’s what scary about Wal-Mart disease: the consumers (or target audience for ministries) still experience positive results. In Wal-Mart’s case it’s small savings on a variety of household items; in ministry it’s often the comfort of history or tradition and the ease of attending/participating in something known versus unknown. As years go by dollars become pennies and leaders scramble to refine execution to a level that promotes micro-management and ultra-conformity. This type of culture often drives entrepreneurial leaders with the capacity to lead change to the fringes or to other ministries where their gifts can flourish.
“The Disease is keeping Wal-Mart from doing what it must do if it really wants to succeed. It has to change. Wal-Mart leadership has to realize that what made Wal-Mart once great isn’t going to make it great in 2020.”–source
Some things your ministry can do to fight Wal-Mart Disease:
- Empower leaders as soon as possible.
- Spend a lot of time with your core group of leaders dreaming about and praying for the future.
- Asking this question when planning anything: “How does this event provide a increase in leaders, volunteers, or resources?”
- Centralizing communication channels to free up time to invest in the future.
- Saying NO to lots of things that are a reaction to the present.
How do you fight Wal-Mart disease in your ministry?