At a recent strategic planning retreat, our senior team members were asked to share one story which they believed best exemplified the vision and values of Andesa Services. Storytelling is a powerful way to express a position in an authentic, meaningful, living manner. Stories resonate with us and often capture the soft elements of business better than charts or numbers can ever articulate.
As each of my colleagues shared examples of employees doing their best, taking initiative, caring for one another, and sacrificing for the benefit of a client, I was struck by the impact of personal relationships on our environment. I wrote one word on the top of my notes for that day “Servanthood.”
I further recognized that the stories being shared weren’t just recent, top-of-mind cases of feel-good situations. Rather, these stories covered Andesa’s more than 30-year time span, occurring at times of great success and also during times of struggle. In fact, perhaps in some of the more difficult times the stories took on even greater meaning and impact.
Servanthood – the condition of being a servant, of performing duties for others – is not a term we hear frequently used in business discussions, yet it is a powerful concept. Former President George H.W. Bush is quoted as saying: “There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people.” Yet how many of us as leaders fail to recognize the importance of service in our day-to-day business activities?
I first encountered the chart below over a decade ago during a quality-improvement seminar. I regret that I do not have the original source to give proper credit for creating this comparison:
|The customer owns an object||The client owns a memory that cannot be passed on to a third party|
|The goal of producing products is uniformity||The goal of service is uniqueness–each client and contact is special|
|The customer is the end user and not involved in the production process||The client is a co-producer and a partner in creating the service|
|If produced badly, it can be pulled or recalled||If poorly performed, apologies and reparations are the only means of recourse|
|The morale of production employees is important||The morale of service employees is critical|
During a recent annual client review meeting, a leader noted, “I would think as a technology provider you would want clients to describe you as innovative and driven. Yet we use soft words – ‘Flexible,’ ‘Reliable,’ ‘Genuine,’ ‘Quick,’ ‘Honest,’ ‘Responsive,’ ‘Reasonable,’ ‘Partner’ – always doing what is right – to describe Andesa.” If we believe that our technology is a product, then I would agree with her initial comment; we would want to be known as innovative and driven. If, however, we place more value on service – on servanthood, then her observation was the highest compliment she could have paid us. Her words remind us that in the Andesa culture, we would rather be measured and recognized for how we conduct ourselves as compared solely on the results we achieve.
We appreciate that our clients trust us with their careers and their companies. When a life insurance policy is entered into the Andesa system, we understand that we need to provide current technology and knowledgeable staff to support that policy for 30, 40, 50 years or longer. When I contrast Andesa values against the Services comparison definitions in the chart above; when I reflect on the stories told by our team of going above and beyond, of relationships, of caring; it is easy for me to see a commitment to Service inherent in the Andesa DNA.