A complex turnaround job

For some reason, Downcast wasn't automatically grabbing new episodes of Planet Money for me the past two months, so I'm just catching up on a long list of episodes. The good episodes have a long shelf life, though.

I enjoyed this episode compiling advice from consultants about a massive global institution in need of a turnaround. It's an institution started with just 11 members and has grown to have more members than Facebook, over 1.2 billion.

A Fortune 500 corporation? A Chinese social network?

Not exactly.

The Catholic Church.

Structurally, though, the Catholic Church is very much like a business, so analyzing it as such might reveal possible solutions to its current crisis. The consultants identified several problems.

For one thing, key employees aren't in key growth markets — only half of priests are in countries with the most Catholics and the highest growth rates. The church also fails to leverage its membership to drive down its procurement expenses. I chuckled at the idea of carrying an official Catholicism membership card and using it to get 10% off at Jamba Juice.

I was amused by discussion of Jesus as more of the visionary founder and Peter as the operational CEO he brought in to lead the Church to global expansion. Much like Facebook, the Catholic Church used a free model to achieve hypergrowth, only monetizing after it achieved scale.

2,000 years. Just think how much more quickly the Catholic Church could have reached that scale had they had cloud infrastructure and the internet.