INSIDE CI: What If...?

The monthly roundup by Editor Kristi Grahl.

As the possessor of an overactive imagination (along with a good bit of optimism), I have always enjoyed pondering questions that begin with "What if..." The notions I entertain along these lines typically include such fanciful ideas as "What if I won the $200 million jackpot in the lottery?" or "Wouldn't it be nice if I could expand my day to include 30 hours instead of a measly 24?" Despite all appearances to the contrary, such thoughts are not necessarily a waste of time. Rather, they tend to serve as a catalyst to activate my more practical side, challenging me to look for ways in which I can improve my situation with what is readily available-as in, "How can I more wisely use my existing time and financial resources to achieve more of my goals?"

Ceramic Industry's new columnist, John Mautner, begins his first "Success Strategies" column with such a question: "What if you found that an additional $100,000 in profit was available for your company?" It might sound far-fetched, particularly for small, cash-strapped organizations. But the challenge is practical-virtually every company can find ways to improve their operations and increase their profitability. You might not have an extra $100,000 lying around in your organization, but what if you had an extra $10,000, or $20,000? How much more could your company achieve with a leaner, higher-performance operating strategy?

"Companies need to quit chasing sales in order to solve profitability issues," says Mautner, who is a recognized expert in business analysis and the cofounder of an educational program called the Cycle of Success Institute.* "With operations representing over 75% of cost to a typical company, finding and fixing profit leaks related to existing processes and people will actually have the most impact on the bottom line."

The Cycle of Success Institute, developed for owners and senior-level management of small- and mid-sized companies, and Mautner's new column in Ceramic Industry, are designed to help organizations do just that. But aside from finding and fixing profit leaks, there are also other ways companies can challenge themselves to improve their businesses. For example, what if you could find a way to fund the R&D needed to pursue a promising new technology? Some companies are successfully tapping into Small Business Innovative Research grants through the U.S. Department of Energy and other government agencies to answer this challenge. For companies on the high-tech side of the industry, what if you could significantly increase the speed of your slicing/sawing operation while also improving quality and reducing maintenance requirements? New technologies are enabling companies achieve these goals, thereby helping them become more competitive in the global market.

Allow yourself to ponder the possibilities. No matter how implausible an idea may seem, it just might spur you to reach new levels of success.

*For more information about the Cycle of Success Institute, visit .

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