Bit Market -- "There's no market for drill bits -- the market is for holes."
In management circles the story is told of the new CEO who took over a 100 year old company that had manufactured drill bits but had been floundering for a decade. The old vice president for marketing, wanting to impress the new chief brought to their first meeting elaborate color charts illustrating the "bit Market" -- detailing the total market for bits, and the company's market share of the "bit market."
When the detailed presentation finally ended, all eyes turned to the new CEO who changed the mind set of the company with one dismissive comment: "There is no market for bits...” –there were audible gasps around the table followed by long pause, then the new CEO finished, “the market is for holes." Pausing a few moments for the thought to sink in, then the CEO stood to his feet and dismissed the meeting.
As a result of that single meeting, and the dramatic way the new CEO introduced a different style of thinking. From then on the company would look for "ways to make holes" not for how to better manufacture drill bits. The customer needs drill bits only so long as bits are the best way to make holes. The moment a laser device arrives which makes a hole better, cleaner, safer, and cheaper, drills bits will go the way of the horse and carriage. It is focusing on the ends not the means.
"The market is for holes" applies to churches too, (which often think like 100 year old companies). Face it, there's absolutely no "market" for Sunday school, morning services, Sunday night carry-in dinners, Tuesday evening calling programs, or Habitat for Humanity. The market is for the holes: discipleship, worship, fellowship, evangelism, service. As soon as a new program makes a better "hole" than Sunday school we should unleash it to accomplish discipleship. When someone invents a better way to have collective worship we can dump the Sunday morning service. Same with fellowship, evangelism and service.
But what is instructive about this model is how it causes us to ask of everything we do, "What is the hole?" And, "Is there a better way to make it?" "Bit market" calls us to examine everything we do to state its purpose, and ask if there is a better way to do it.
So what about "pastoral calling?" Church offices? Church bulletins? Midweek mailers? Sunday night service? Pulpits? Overhead-screens-in-worship? Pioneer clubs? Praise bands? Youth groups? Youth conventions? Choirs? Camps and retreats? Altar calls? And a hundred other "bits" of the church?
So what do you think? What "bits" are we still trying to sell where there are better ways to make the holes?
So, what do you think?
Responses to this column are welcome at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=161502633
Keith Drury January 3, 2012
Original 1984 recording: http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/strategetics/leadership/33.mp3