Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

18 April 2014

Conversion, Attrition, and Retention

Not sure if anyone will enjoy this one, but I recently submitted it as my homework for an assignment as to what is needed for a sustainable organization.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome, as always.

This one was fun because I chose to use some patterns of spiritual and religious organizations and put them into a corporate context.

It also fit fairly well into my blog context: Why do we do what we do, and how can we do better?

If this is you too, Leave me a comment of ideas for other posts, or thoughts that you have!



Sustainability: Conversion, Activation, and Retention

In thinking about what makes a sustainable organization, my mind was drawn towards a broadcast that I have viewed and studied multiple times and contains great insight into what makes an organization sustainable. I have seen the necessary process is the business world, as well as in a religious setting, in which this broadcast was made. I firmly believe that the principles of conversion, activation, and retention are crucial to a sustainable organization. In my current employment, I seek to ensure that this process is covered. Too often, managers are concerned only with making the numbers, reaching the goals, filling the seats, or other similar terms. The ultimate struggle for sustainability can be overcome by understanding the mantra “Any investigator worthy of baptism becomes a convert worthy of saving” (Hinckley, 1999). In a business setting this has similar connotations to saying any client worthy of having becomes a long-term relationship worthy of retaining. If businesses focused on retention and attrition as much as finding and meeting, real growth can occur. In the same vein, a manager must have sustainable employees to ensure a compatible and sustainable future.

In the broadcast, there are three points that the speaker makes to ensure an able retention of the individual, and though they are given in a religious context, I feel them to be most agreeable to a business setting with minor renditions. He mentions three aspects of making sure that one who enters the covenant or partnership, or organization needs three things. A friend, a responsibility, and nourishment from the good word of God (Hinckley, 1999).

Again, in a business setting, these can be seen very similar.

A Friend: To be a leader who seeks sustainable growth, one must have the strengths of friendship: Humility (Collins, 2005), seeking for the interests of others or reducing self-interest (Duska, 2004), valued relationships and high levels of trust (Saunders, 2007), and directing compassion towards difficult conversations (Engels, 2007). The value of a true friend knows of the necessity of having these.

A Responsibility: A leader who seeks to understand the responsibilities of the profession and act accordingly is the epitome of professionalism. If a leader can envision in his or her staff an acceptance that the work that they are doing holds real value, and that they are truly a part of the organization, this will bring about true results. Being professional is not only a way to avoid ethical breakdowns (Duska, 2005) but is a way to have your career as an extension of who you are and part of your moral code. If that leader can then ensure that the products or services offered can truly benefit those they service, they are holding true to the responsibility given to that organization. A majority of businesses have some sort of responsibility to give to the world, no matter how insignificant it may seem. As the manager brings that responsibility to the employees, and the organization brings it to the world, it creates a pattern for sustainability. As individuals of the organization realize the crucial part that they can play as they are given the opportunity, they become vibrant and not stagnant, which is a force of sustainability.

Nourishment from the good word of God: Hear me out on this one. This can mean various principles in the model of what I am discussing. But on even the most basic level of life, to create sustainability, there must be nourishment— a source of vital nutrients that provide the object what it needs. In the business context, it can mean at least two things.

Relating to the last one, one must have nourishment in the sense of understanding that he or she still has purpose in the organization. Having love, trust, and responsibility are good. In order to go further in the step of sustainability, one must have constant nourishment. This can come in the way of communication, feedback, feedforward, counseling, heeding instructions, or hearing and understanding the words of those above us. It can also be seen as the hard part in both religious and business settings - Calling someone to repentance or change. Nourishment can be uncomfortable and helpful at the same time.  

Another way of receiving nourishment is ensuring that the right nutrients are coming from the right sources and sustaining the right things. Eating to be full and eating to be nourished and sustained are two different processes that receive two different results.
There are different types of learning: Informal and formal, developed vs. Ad Hoc, and learner-driven vs. organization-driven (Pannoni & Ricketts, 2010). All of these may provide certain needed guidance at certain needed times, but a sustainable-seeking leader will ensure that the right nourishment is given at the proper times. The dosages of discipline, the measurements of mercy, the recipes of responsibilities, and the conditions of counseling all rest on the sustainable leader.

I believe that a leader who constantly seeks the attributes of a friend, understands the power of responsibility, and knows the sources of nourishment and how to deliver them will be able to create true, sustainable growth.

Collins, J. (2005). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. (cover story). Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136-146.

Duska, R. F. (2004). SIX CURES FOR CURRENT ETHICAL BREAKDOWNS. Journal Of Financial Service Professionals, 58(3), 23-26.

Engels, J. J. (2007). Delivering Difficult Messages. Journal Of Accountancy, 204(1), 50-52.

Hinckley, Gordon B. (21 Feb, 1999). Satellite Broadcast “Find the lambs, feed the sheep”. Retrieved from: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/find-the-lambs-feed-the-sheep?lang=eng

PANNONI, R., & RICKETTS, G. (2010). A New Taxonomy for Learning. Chief Learning Officer, 9(8), 32-35.

Saunders, D. (2007). Create an Open Climate for Communication. American Salesman, 52(11), 25-29.

Trunk, O. (2014). Conversion, Attrition, and Retention Creating a sustainable organization


  1. Hey that is good stuff. A good leader is clearly what is needed to sustain any organization. Hugh Nibley gave a speech at BYU once entitled "Leaders and Managers" (elsewhere it was entitled "Leaders to Managers the Fatal Shift"). You know it's going to be a good speech when he begins by saying “We have met here today clothed in the black robes of a false priesthood.” He goes on to talk about the many differences between leaders and managers. He mentions among other things the "Law of Injelitance" which is "Managers do not promote individuals whose competence might threaten their own position." This spreads of course until the whole organization is ruined. Here is a link to the speech http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=578.

  2. John,

    Thanks for the comments. I really like the talk that you referenced by Hugh Nibley. The intro is definitely classic. I also like the story that he tells about an assignment to compare and relate to a person from the Pearl of Great Price, and a student says he has to be honest and say Cain because of his continually seeking for worldly wealth. Great reference. Thanks for bringing it up... I had forgotten about that one until you reminded me of it.