Strategic Thinking

“The printing industry is feeling the impact of change as much, or perhaps even more, than some other industries.  Our change is being driven by the digitalization of information.  This is not only dramatically changing the way we produce our products, but the demand for them, and in many instances their very form.

Historically successful companies in every industry – and our industry is no exception – are losing their way because they have failed to anticipate he impact of these forces on their business, and therefore have not made timely adjustments.  Even in this harsh environment there are companies which are growing and seized opportunities that others didn’t see. They too, however, are faced with the challenge of maintaining their success.”

Pretty interesting observations aren’t they?  What’s more interesting is when they were written — 1995.  So, when one thinks that things have just recently become topsy-turvy, we have to remember that our industry has been facing change for decades, and here’s the important message.  For us to win in a changing environment, we must think strategically.  And that my friends, was the message in Wallace Stettinius’ book, “Winning in a Changing Environment, Learning to Think Strategically.”  The quotation above is from Wally’s preface written over 16 years ago.

I never got to know Wally that well, but in my observation, he was one of our industry’s true management visionaries.  In the 80’s and 90’s, I was able to attend seminars he presented, and had the opportunity to sit and discuss ideas he presented.  He also published many of those thoughts.  “Running in the Black,” dealt with financial management in our industry.  It’s now out of print, but probably was the best book ever written about that subject for printers.

I’ve been re-reading “Winning” and I feel that it still holds numerous nuggets which apply today.  I know that many in our industry are working to re-shape their companies for the future.  Yet, we can no longer afford to build the bomber as we’re flying it.  There has to be some serious planning before we start making major changes in our business model or rethink the types of capital investments we make. Thus, I strongly recommend that you consider purchasing “Winning.  There are copies available on Amazon.com

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