Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Mussel Stagnation and Global Stretch in CCRC Business

Written by: on October 25, 2013

Businesses must change to thrive in this global world we live in. Kets de Vries in his book The Leadership Mystique talks about global leadership from a Psychoanalytical viewpoint. He talks about the “Mussel Syndrome”. The mussel is mollusk that makes one existential decision in its life, where to settle down (Kets de Vries 2001). Once settled on the object, is cements itself in for the rest of its life. Kets de Vries has observed many people are so resistant to change it is as if they have become the mussel and cemented themselves in for life.

Businesses can suffer from the same attitude. IBM is an example of the mussel syndrome. In 1983 according to Fortune Magazine it was at the top of its industry and by 1997 it was ranked 102 (Kets de Vries 2006 p 50). Most of us know the story how IBM bet on main frame computers and gave away its Personal Computer technology. Bill Gates got a hold of it and the rest is history. IBM was unable to change fast enough towards the Tech industry trends.

I see similar trends in the Retirement Industry sector. The demand for Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) is changing. The entrance fee for a CCRC typically costs the average price of selling one’s home then there is a typical monthly fee which will range from $1,000 per month to $7,000 based on the area one lives and the size of a residential apartment. Because of the great recession and the fact that most baby boomers have not saved enough for an adequate retirement, CCRC’s may be pricing themselves out of the market.

Another game changer is that to build a CCRC on vacant property is almost too expensive. The raw land is expensive in desirable area’s as well as the cost of financing is becoming too expensive.

Companies who specialize on the CCRC retirement housing model may need to change in the near future. Some companies are changing and they are building more affordable senior housing with Residential Living and Assisted Living without Skilled Nursing and an upfront entrance fee. Other models may include a memory support facility.

Other companies are beginning to take their expertise internationally. American Baptist Homes of the West has recently decided to consult and manage senior communities in China. China has a huge aging wave hitting their country with a minimal infrastructure to take care of their aging population. The family use to be responsible to take care of their aging parents but the migration of farmers moving into the city has made it a financial hard ship for a couple to take care of parents and grandparents in the city (not enough room and too expensive). There is a significant window of opportunity for Retirement Housing Organizations to diversify and make additional revenue in a virtually untapped market.

In order for organizations that take care of older adults in CCRC’s, they need to change with the times and need to begin to diversify their portfolio. The may even need to think about going global. If they resist change, they may end up like the mussel and consequently IBM who missed the future changes in computers.

Kets De Vries, Manfred. The Leadership Mystique; leading behavior in the human enterprise. London, England; Pearson Education. 2001.

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Mark Steele

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