Given that the ‘Global Festival of Families’ is happening this week, I couldn’t help but reflect with my business brain on what a mess the Catholic Church is in. In purely business terms it is classic case study material, with every aspect of business being affected from revenue, to consumer base, leadership, culture, management, HR policies, and much more.
So, if you gave the following facts to any business or marketing student as an assignment, with the task of developing a business or marketing strategy to address key issues, what do you think they would recommend?
- Declining consumer base for the past 20 years, and with an accelerated decline in the past 10
- 50% of the consumer base feeling ignored, or at best not wanted (women)
- And other significant consumer cohorts not even acknowledged, e.g. LGBTQ
- Revenue from weekly sales (collections) has declines radically, reflecting the decimated consumer base
- Talent attraction a critical issue, especially in the more mature and developed markets. So much so, that the business is forced to run a skeleton staff rota and reduce substantially their offering (masses, etc.)and bring in contract staff (lay people) to help with the basic operations (communion)
- Governance is poor, with scandal after scandal rocking the entire organisation, leading to huge numbers of court cases and developing into major global PR stories, from sex scandals to child abuse to financial scandals
- HR policies are poor with dismissable on-the-spot behaviour being hidden and the offenders being promoted and/or transferred to another office or region
- The top jobs and the senior management team are exclusively male with no gender or diversity policies in place
- The board is exclusively male
- Consumer understanding is poor as none of the staff can identify with the target market and their circumstances, e.g. married. in relationships, children, grandchildren etc. so it is difficult
- Market research and consumer views are ignored
- Some advisors that have been brought in to help address some of the issues above have resigned their roles, some very high profile people e.g. Marie Collins
- And there are many, many more problems….but at the risk of boring you…
So what recommendations would the students propose? A root and branch overhaul of the organisation? Replacement of the top man (with a woman?) and his senior staff with fresh blood, reflective of the consumer base (men and woman, allowed to marry, have relationships, kids , LGBTQ, etc.)? A new Mission, Vision and Values? A new statement of strategy? A cultural overhaul, driven from the top? Gender balance and diversity embraced? A brand relaunch, involving an aggressive marketing campaign online and offline, to attract back defectors, lapsed consumers and new consumers? A root and branch review of all HR systems and policies? A positive communications and PR campaign. The list goes on?
And how long would it all take to implement and to start seeing immediate results. Obvious isn’t it?