Flying Blind or Flying Uniformed

by Tom Ehrich on April 17, 2015

While my wife browsed TJ Maxx for summer trousers, I sat on a curb outside and observed people going in and out of TJ Maxx. Here is what I observed:

Perhaps 95% of those entering TJ Maxx were female. The majority of them were middle-aged white women. Of the women under age 40, the majority were Asian. Those entering with babies were almost all Asian.

I didn't see a single African-American customer, or Hispanic customer, and only one South Asian.

More than half of those who went in came out empty-handed, having browsed but not purchased.

This wasn't a text-while-walking crowd. Most came in alone. These were "lumpy" people, looking (I speculated) for affordable fashion to make them feel less lumpy.

None of these observations has any value component. They are simply a profile of those entering this one store. But imagine how helpless you would be as manager of this TJ Maxx branch if you didn't know who your customers were. If the manager is smart, he is measuring everything I observed and far more. How long each customer stays inside, the exact percentage who purchase or don't purchase, the actual average sale, what they bought, where they browsed. And how the metrics are changing.

Imagine trying to lead a church and not having such metrics available to you. How would you know how to serve people if you didn't know their gender, age, race, socioeconomic circumstance, average stay time, and what "products" they actually consumed. You would always be guessing, and in all likelihood, you would be guessing wrong, because you would assume the next twenty people in the door would be like you.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Leadership, Vision & Planning

Living His Faith: CEO Models Wage Parity

by Erin Weber-Johnson on April 16, 2015

The more you have, sometimes the more complicated your life gets."   - Dan Price

On April 13, 2014, 30-year-old CEO Dan Price of Gravity Payments made a startling announcement  to his 120-person staff. Over the next three years, Price intends to raise the minimum rate across the company from to $70,000. Today, his company pays an average wage of $48,000. 

To ensure all of his employees are compensated at this amount, he anticipates a decrease in his salary to $70,000 from about $1 million dollars. He plans to keep his salary at this amount until the company earns back the profit it made when the new salaries came in to affect.

What motivated him? Not politics---instead what drove him was inequality. Price is more concerned about the well being of his employees then his own salary. He notes, “Of all the social issues that I was in a position to do something about as a business leader, this was a worthy one to go after”

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Advocacy, Stewardship

Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources for Caring for Creation

by Brendon Hunter on April 15, 2015

Greening Our Faith

In this month’s Vital Practices Digest, we highlight 5 ways for congregations to practice their commitment to caring for our earth home and all who inhabit it. Our 5th resource is a suggestion for congregations interested in the practice of year round stewardship and gratitude.

It’s easy and free to access these resources for your congregation. Subscribe to ECF Vital Practices and receive Vestry Papers and this Vital Practices Digest in your inbox each month.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Advocacy, Buildings and Grounds, Outreach

Low and High Context: Bridging the Gap

by Richelle Thompson on April 14, 2015

It’s morning in the office, and my instinct is to head straight to my desk, fire up the computer, scroll through email, and wrap my brain around the day’s agenda.

But others think I'm rude. They like to start with friendly chatter, checking in, getting coffee, warming up to the day with conversation.

Neither way is “right.” They are just two styles of communication. But knowing that—and finding ways to bridge the disconnect—is key to healthier staffs (and churches!).

At a conference last week, Denise Trevino of the Diocese of Texas led a workshop on communication styles. I’ve attended a lot of these kinds of things, so I expected it to be more of the same. I was surprised.

She expounds on a concept developed by Edward T. Hall, an American anthropologist. The idea is that people communicate and deal with conflict on a spectrum of low to high context. Low context folks are direct, focused on action and solution, and adaptable to change. High context people prioritize relationships and storytelling.

There’s a lot more to it, but the bottom line is that it’s sometimes hard for low and high context people to find common ground. Take the situation of my morning routine. For me and my low-context self, I like to start the day with a focus on the work ahead. After thirty or forty minutes, I tend to be more social. High context people may think I’m standoffish. Or that I don’t care. Or I’m rude. On the other hand, I stew: why don’t they want to get started on the day’s work?

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Change, Communications, Leadership

Who's in Charge Here?

by Linda Buskirk on April 13, 2015

Alleluia! Gosh, it feels good to say that again. From the darkness of the Easter Vigil it suddenly rang out: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” The victory is won! We are bold and jubilant.

This is so different from the Friday before when we quietly contemplated the evil Jesus endured to take away our own evilness. At Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Rev. Dr. Thomas P. Hansen stopped us from wallowing in our dust. He looked to John’s accounts of the passion which present Jesus in control, not as a victim.

“In John’s description of the crucifixion, evil did not win the day. Jesus did not die the victim. He was victor. He was not a helpless sufferer, but king. With this insight, John carefully crafted his Gospel and his account of Jesus’ death. …Jesus in charge every step of the way.

“The cross was not forced upon Jesus. He willingly accepted it. He did not lose his life. He gave it. He was not killed. He chose to die.”

Father Tom’s Good Friday homily reminded us that our God had a strategy for victory. He had the power and confidence to see His plan through until the resurrection, and until now and to eternity.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Conflict, Leadership

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