The monthly roundup from Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.
My daughter recently taught me how to play
Sudoku online. It took a little doing, since numbers truly just don’t make much
sense to my language-oriented brain. In any event, she’d warned me before we
got started that she wasn’t any good at the game. As she was filling in numbers
and explaining everything for me, though, I realized she was whizzing right
through it. It took her under five minutes to complete the game.
Amazed, I exclaimed, “I thought you said you weren’t any good at this!” To
which she replied, “It’s easier on the computer, because it tells you if you’ve
made a mistake.” At that point, I had an epiphany: Imagine how helpful it would
be if the universe could tell us right away if whatever we were trying wouldn’t
work. Imagine if we could avoid the entire trial-and-error process and zero in
on the right answer in a matter of moments. No muss, no fuss (no stress!).
Unfortunately, there are no sureties in business, and that’s never been
as true as it is now. The worldwide economy is clearly in a recession, the fate
of the previously stalwart U.S. auto industry is very much in question, and the
unemployment rate continues its steady upward march. Common questions of a few
years ago-What new markets can my company pursue? What productivity
improvements can we make? How can we expand and improve profitability?-are now
starting to take a backseat. Real concerns regarding the very existence of our
facilities (and our jobs) are taking precedence over possibilities for
improvement and growth. It’s difficult to plan for the future when so much
I wish I had a crystal ball. Even better, I wish everyone could use their own
crystal ball to see into the future. Each company’s crystal ball could pinpoint
exactly what steps they should take to weather this seemingly endless economic
storm. Company A, you should definitely buy that new kiln. Company B, go ahead
and enter that new market. Company C, you’re right, that product line is not
doing you any favors; you should focus on this one instead. The crystal balls
could cut through all of the analyses and projections (and worries!), and give
everyone the answers they need.
One thing is for sure: stagnation never got anyone anywhere. When my college
roommate gave the valedictory speech at her high school graduation, she quoted
Franklin Roosevelt, who said, “It is common sense to take a method and try it.
If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
She was attempting to inspire her fellow classmates, but my friends and I used
that quote to tease her mercilessly. She: “What should I wear tonight?”
Response: “‘Try something
All kidding aside, let’s
not allow fear to set our course for us. If we assert that inaction is not an
option, we give ourselves permission to move forward. CI
will continue to provide
you with practical information to help you succeed in 2009. Of that, at least,
I am absolutely certain.