Looking at the catch 22 that our success as a people has resulted in this year. On one hand, our unprecedented success as a people allowed us to sustain the important legacy institutions that provide the necessary basics for so many people in our communities. However, in our focus on providing and sustaining, many conversations on progress took a back seat or were thrown out altogether. More important than ever, the conversation that would broaden the tent needs to be pushed further. Yes, during the pandemic we’ve been more accepting of individual practices, but will that remain? And how do you measure that, because if we can’t measure it did it really happen?
I’ve noticed that over the past several decades we’ve moved to make our organizations more business-like. But I’m not sure we’ve stopped to understand what that means. Yes, we may be more efficient and focused, but is that good for the Jewish community or the institution? At the same time, we’re not applying business principles in other ways. Let’s take the simplest business goal, grow market share. This is a goal that is shared whether you are a company like Levi’s or a Jewish institution. If we look at the market, the Jewish community has been losing market share for years. We all know this to be true and in turn we are tasked with growing our market share. Now imagine that our market was for pants and instead of for “Jewish Community” and the reality is that most of our customers no longer wear denim. What would a business do and what would a Jewish organization do?
I’ve come to a simple truth in life, whether it be in sales or development work:
Either you are trying to convince people they need something, or you’re providing something people need.
So, with the Levi’s example in mind, have we as the Jewish community acknowledged what people are telling us and started providing alternatives to denim or are we just offering more colors of jeans and trying to convince people they still need denim?