Thursday, January 10, 2013

Black Swan Events: Navigating The Uncertainty

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Stunned traders on the New York Stock Exchange floor in 2008

Learning to Love Volatility:

In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

“Best practice” models, risk management, ROI metrics, SOX compliance, Governmental Policy and such are considered critical tools for success these days.  Why, because these modern-day practices attempt to micro-manage, minimize risk and maximize stability…based upon theories, statistics, and staunch controls.

In previous posts we've talked about the fact that it is far better to change when you want to...not when you are forced to (as in the wake of a tragedy).  

Unfortunately, as much as the best of the best would like to think…there really are no predictable absolutes.  We’ve seen that with the most recent economic, government and climatic tragedies. 
Stuff happens.  If we cannot truly and unequivocally measure the risks of potential blowups, what are we to do?

Per the author of the below WSJ Journal article (link), the answer is simple: We should try to create institutions that won't fall apart when we encounter “black swans” —  or that might even gain from these unexpected events.  Note:  "Black Swans" are large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential.  We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world: Think of World War I, 9/11, the Internet, the rise of Google or natural disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami or Hurricane Katrina & Sandy.

The moral of the story here?  Fear & uncertainty can be paralyzing.  But remember, NOT changing to the world and business climate around you can be equally paralyzing.  Change is good.  Falling down is good too.  You need to fall & should expect to do so.  Just make certain you have band-aids in hand, and are willing to learn from that fall.  You’ll be better because of it.  This is how you will truly minimize future risk and maximize sustainable stability. 

The author, N. Nicholas Taleb, provides some cutting edge concepts on how best to deal with these “black swans”.  5 Rules that can help us to better navigate around & survive potentially unknown and fragile situations.  Interesting food for thought.

Consider this message for your own business…although every company likes to think of itself as pro-active, are you?  If you are more re-active, operationally speaking, is your company built to handle “black swan” events?  The “what if” kind that could severely re-shape your business?

At Reign Print Solutions, we are driven to help our clients continually evaluate operational and marketing print/communication that change can be scalable and deliberate, and not based upon fear of the unknown (which results in stagnation).


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Through tragedy, comes change


As the old saying goes, "through tragedy...comes change".

Egads, who wants to hear that line though?

It is far better to change when you want to, versus when you HAVE to.

That's a fairly easy statement to make.  However we often fail to follow this wise advice.  Especailly in big organizations.

Major league baseball knew it had a steriod problem, The NFL knew concussions were a growing concern.  The USA knew it had heightened concerns with terrorism and Al Qaida.  Congress, banks and investment companies knew there serious problems with the sub-prime loan market.  Eastman Kodak knew its key patents were running out.  General Motors knew it lost tremendous market share and needed to correct costs and the pension plan.

So, why wait?  Why sit on it until it explodes?

It's is human nature to procrastinate.

Our tendancy as human beings is to keep repeating what works. Only when it stops working do we, by nature, try another behavior.

Too often tragedy needs to occur before REAL change can take place.  Won't happen to us.  Things will eventually correct themselves.  Yes, but we have more critical things to handle.  Low hanging fruit...we will get to it later.  We've all said these things.

Sure, through tragedy comes change.  But not the kids of change anyone wants.

Continuous Improvement.  Six Sigma.  Sarbanes Oxley & "Best Practices".  All of these organizational measures were put into place to help minimize the chances that "tragedy" does not strike.

Through foresight, readiness and a realistic sense of urgency comes true desired change.  Sustainable change.  Listen to those around you.  Listen to your trusted business partners and associates.  Heed the warning signs.  Always be looking for a better way to do things, or improve upon something that does not appear "quite right".

Regardless of its size or relative is far better to lead the change, than be forced into it.

At Reign Print Solutions, we are driven to help our clients continually evaluate operational and marketing print/communication that change can be scalable and deliberate. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Change Is Hard: Part 2 ~ What Can We Learn From Theo & The Cubs?


Change is Hard ~ Part 2:
What Can We Learn From Theo & The Cubs?

The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1906, making them the longest running "losers" in North American Sports.  Their last World Series appearance in 1945, was marred by the infamous Billy Goat curse. In 1969 it was the "black cat" that ruined an otherwise stellar season.  Then, when it appeared the Cubs were finally headed back to the World Series in 2003, the Steve Bartman incident sent the Cubs home again.
Enter Theo Epstein, Change Agent.  Epstein helped erase the 96 year "Curse of the Bambino", while General Manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2003.  The Sox won again in 2006.

The Chicago Cubs hired "Theo The Great" in 2011, with hopes that Epstein can repeat this heroic feat in Wrigley Field.

Good luck Theo.  Why?  Because REAL change is hard.  The kind that makes a sustainable difference.  That allows you to not only win more games, but also multiple World Series.

Change is not just hard work.  Change is not just vision.  Real change is hard work and vision working together in harmony.

Change is a process.  A mindset.   It is an evolving, continuous fluid process. 

Epstein's long-range stratgic plan for the Cubs is involved.  Hundreds of pages "involved".  It is focused not just on the big picture, but also the small pieces; the fundamentals and culture that begin at the front end of the organization.

Much like any large company, the Cubs Major League Team functions like the Corporate Office.  A place where upper management & top sales people (players) make it all happen.  The minor leagues are much like the field personnel, the satellite offices and warehouses...where the groundwork or foundation is laid for this success.  What Epstein has learned is that the Cubs have been missing two mission critical items for years; (1) harvesting of talent (proper player development), and (2) one unified vision, one grand plan.  Without this in place, The Chicago Cubs will continue running the bases in futilty for another hundred years. 

Imagine this.  Each Minor League manager working on their own goal ~ to win games and move up the corporate ladder.  Does it sound wrong or bad?  No, not really.  However, if the real goal is to build up minor league talent and focus on the fundamentals, and not just winning games...then the organizational culture needs to change.  

The Chicago Cubs minor league farm system has historically been one of the most unproductive in the Minor Leagues.  There is a reason for this.  Lack of communication, leadership and focus.  Theo understands that to create sustainable change, the small fundamentals need to be in place to meet the organizational goals.

Somewhere, long ago, the small stuff like the communication and fundamentals got lost.  This wrecked the Cub's culture, the harvesting of talent and the ability to foster change...and a winning attitude.

What exacty does all of this have to do with critical documents and printing? 

Fundamental change can be hard.  Assessing and revising processes can be a challenge in any organization. 

Document driven processes & communcations are the lifeblood of any company.  Documents (printed or electronic) enable the workflow that drives the marketing engine, that moves the products (operations), so that finance can collect the money.  These are the small fundamentals. 

EVERY communication your company sends out is an opportunity to connect with the end customer in a meaningful and relevant way.  Marketing collateral, advertising,  packaging/shipping documents & communcations, billing.  All of these items touch the customer.  If all "communications" are not working in unison, a "black cat" event can be catastrophic for any organization.
Are your communications an area of competitive advantage for your company? 

Whether your company is in need of change, is in the process of changing, or has already changed...Reign can help your organization evaluate and measure the communication processes (documents, print, electronic) that drive the organization.  Using a consultative approach, Reign has the ability to look across the enterprise and make certain the "small things" connect with the corporate goals...and enable sustainable success in this ever-changing marketplace.  

Let us help you make certain all communications are cross-functional, on the same page and working in harmony to contain costs and maximize the message results. 

Call us today for a free assessment ~ Reign Sales @ 800.853.3552.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Change is Hard: Part 1 ~ Theo and the Chicago Cubs

Change is Hard: Part 1 ~ Theo and the Chicago Cubs

Whether personally or in business, change is not an easy process.
Just ask Theo Epstien(new President) and the Chicago Cubs organization.

It is hard to believe, but baseball spring training is just around the corner.  MLB teams will once again be posturing this year to reach the top ~ the World Series.  A place very unfamiliar to the Cubs...and their loyal fans.

It's no secret that the Cubs are the epitome of an organization forever stuck in neutral.

Like any organization needing change, it may appear that the answer is to look @ the obvious.  The cut that is bleeding, or the area in need of the most repair.  Hire a new manager.  Or sign a new scorer or clean up hitter.  Get new uniforms, change the logo or marketing, cut payroll...some teams and companies look for what might appear to be the quick immediate answer.

And some large organizations can't help themselves, because they are forced to live in the present.  Need to hit numbers this QTR...need to win THIS season.

But in many cases, the need for change may be much deeper than that.  It may require a more strategic look at the underlying problem...the culture and processes that drive the organization & the daily operations.

This is why Theo Epstien is here...he was hired to become the Chicago Cubs' new "Change Agent".  He was part of a like organization/situation (the Boston Red Sox), that finally got out of neutral.  Can Theo reproduce that success here?

Now the Cubs' futility is somewhat unique...however what is not unique is that real change is a process, not an event

Cutting costs, winning a few more games, hiring a new manager, signing a power hitter or getting a new account...those are all events.

Sometimes it's the fundamental changes what will bring you more long term success.  Many times the short term changes, or quick fixes, can bring about greater problems for the future.  Slashing budgets & hiring a new manager may help get you a few more "wins" this year, but keep you stuck in the quagmire of mediocrity for the next 3 years.

Reign Print Solutions can help you look at your long range communication goals.  Reaching your customers in a more relevant and meaningful way.

We are talking about laying the groundwork for sustainable success....not just a few more wins in 2013.

Coming next..."Change is Hard: Part 2 ~ What Can We Learn From Theo & The Cubs?"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Embracing Change in 2013


The way we communicate is forever changing.

The way we move information, market or advertise an idea, communicate a message, distribute and store data...changes daily. 

Technology has played a large role in how we communicate & distribute information...and also how we measure its effectiveness.

What hasn't changed is the need for messages to remain relevant, timely and well communicated.

Consumer behavior has also changed, and has become a more fluid & evasive target.

The proper blending of data, technology, innovation and instinct will be paramount in communicating and growing this ever changing consumer relationship.

Change is critical for any company who wishes to maintain relevancy in our ever morphing, technology driven climate.

Successful Change cannot occur without the proper information.

It is in this spirit, on the day of our 25th anniversary, that we dedicate this new Reign Blog to our founder ~ Bill Jourdan Sr. ~ who's firm belief was that "an educated customer was a satisfied customer".

Embrace Change.
Here's to a prosperous and happy 2013!
~ Your Reign Print Solutions Team ~
"Innovative People Transforming Print"

Reign Print Solutions