The meeting had adjourned. Abruptly. The children and staff returned to their work stations with a uneasy feeling in their gut. The hard questions were left sitting on the table -- a sustainable future seemed out of reach. The staff longed for a vision that would inspire them, encourage them, empower them to work together. They couldn't say this, but they longed for the synergy that Mom and Pop once brought to the store.
Paul was the oldest. He returned to his office. He sat behind his over-sized maple desk. On the wall behind his desk hung his MBA and certifications from the Management association. On the desk sat piles of papers and books neatly stacked. In the middle of the desk lie a to-do list with items struck through in proper order.
He was anxious. Over the years, running the store was like the change in seasons; one always knew what was coming next: orders for goods and services occurred with regularity, deliveries happened without fail, staff did their job without supervision. It was a well oiled machine.
Or at least it used to be.
The Store faced new challenges. It's brand was tarnished. Sales were slumping and the staff were anxious. Uncertainly hung in the air like the thick winter fog. That staff meeting left Paul's mind racing, his heart pumping, and his face flushed. He sat alone in the quiet of his office and let out a big sigh. Staring into empty space he murmured to himself, "When did this get so complicated?"
"The product sells itself," said the youngest in the family. "If only that were true", mused Paul. When the Store was the only store in town selling product, perhaps that was true. Today, however, stores have popped up all over town. Oh sure, the Mom and Pop store still had the "true product" that was the signature of the store. But other stores sold variations on their products and each had achieved some success doing so.
The more Paul thought about their dilemma, the more difficult it felt. Reputation, sales, competition: these were only the touchstones of what he feared might be the real challenge facing the Store.