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DeWese--Drowning in Decrees

November 1998
Along with several other people, I was inducted into the printing industry's Soderstrom Society last month. I haven't read the Soderstrom Society by-laws yet, but I'm sure that membership gives me broad powers. For example, I now have the power to ban things in the printing industry that I don't like.

Be it ordained and decreed that all print buyers henceforth shall purchase printing based only on quality and service. This means that "price" will no longer be a consideration. Printers are inherently honest people, who would never gouge buyers, so why all the fuss over a few dollars? Furthermore, I proclaim and demand that print buyers pay all overtime and AA charges without question.

Here comes another one! I do hereby avow and declare that print buyers must see print salespeople whenever they wish to call. No more stupid appointments! And no more hidin' behind your voice mail. As a matter of fact, I decree that print buyers must turn off their voice mail and answer all phone calls personally.

While I'm at it, print buyers should limit calls to their printer's customer service department to once a week. How can we get your work produced on time when you're constantly calling in with changes and asking for status reports? And no more stupid technical questions. Do you know how hard it is to keep up with all of this technological change? Do your own research.

Now I'm going to ban some vocabulary. Be it resolved and decreed that the words "strategy" and "strategic" are banned from printers' vocabulary. I am plumb fed up and exasperated with people telling me about their "strategic directions," "strategic alliances" and "action strategies."

I sometimes gag when I hear a CEO say, "Our strategic direction is to become the preeminent strategic communications company in the Hot Coffee, Mississippi, market." And, I'm nauseous when I read, "Worldwide Graphics CEO Barney Quagmire announced, 'This strategic acquisition of Quad Cities Letterpress is another example of our continuing strategy to acquire companies that fit our nine-legged strategic stool strategic concept.' " Instead I would love, just once, to hear a leader say, "We are going to become a consistent, 10 percent pre-tax profit printer, and this is how we're going to do it."

You see, "how" is the key word and, in fact, is synonymous with the word "strategy." Strategy is not the same as "goal" or "objective" or "mission" or "tactic." Strategy represents the "how" or the means by which an individual or an organization achieves an objective.
 

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