Welcome to the Era of Chief Executive Customer: From the Many to the One

The above title is taken from an IBM ad appearing in Wired Magazine, August 2012.  Wow—I thought as I read the one-liner—this is becoming so true.  In the fine print of the ad it reads like a commentary, violating all the rules of snappy, precise one-liners.  It is as if IBM is outlining for the reader their philosophy of change, seeking to sell that they “get it”.   For example, because decisions are now made by customers on information directly one-on-one, companies must respond less to the market and more to the actual individual; also, in the past so much of marketing was intended to shape customers’ desires, now marketing must manage its ability to predict what the customer might want.

What might be the parallel to seminary education and to the Doctor of Ministry Degree in particular?  I know there are many options available to those seeking this degree.  As director, I work not from a marketing strategy rather from a vision or at least I hope that what we offer is shaped first and foremost by a vision—a vision of possibility and of openness.  One of the secondary themes in the IBM fine print is an acknowledgment that customers—the one customer multiplied to millions—is able to discern the commitment of companies to transparency by “their actual behavior.”

What fascinates me is the parallel language to the hope of learning; to the actions of those in pastoral ministry, and the connections between theology of the head and heart and the patterns of walking the talk—actual behavior, and doing what we say we will do.  Credibility is at stake for companies like IBM, for the church much more is at stake —it is the deep desire of folks to live authentic lives.  Pastors stand as a witness to that through the Gospel we practice, preach and teach.  We’ve opportunities before us in ministry—and we need one another in shared deep faith to honor God’s primary call on our lives and our actions. 

Check out the opportunities for study at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry Program.   From the many to the one—may God guide your steps.

 Susan Kendall, Director, DMin

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