New routes, wrong turns & the road less traveled

May 1, 2011

Johnson’s World by Steve Johnson

Very few of my readers work from home. Even if you are in sales and spend most of your time on the road, you still have an office you must visit regularly. As for the rest of us, we spend every day in an office or a factory. This means we commute between work and home twice daily, five to seven days per week.

Whether our trip is five blocks or 50 miles, each of us has found the best way to get to work; the best route and the best method of transportation (or so we think).

Most of us drive to work. Some take a train or a bus. One or two of you might even have a chauffeur to drive you in a limousine.

I once lived close enough to my print shop that I could walk to work. On summer days, I sometimes drive my 1926 Ford Model T to the office, and on sunny weekends I might bicycle to work.

One person's best way is not another's. I wish I could to bicycle to work every day. Those of you who have been subjected to the enforcement of tough drunk driving laws might not agree.

If you check my company's website, you'll find easy directions to Copresco via automobile, airplane, mass transit, bicycle or horse. The horse part also works if you ride a donkey or mule.

Whatever our mode of transportation, the route we take to work might not actually be the best way, but we take it out of habit.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose

All too frequently, we conduct business in the same way. Are you discouraged by the downturn in print volume? Pummeled by competition from new media? On the defensive over pricecutting? Is the same old way just not working?

We simply cannot succeed doing the same old thing, anymore, yet truly fresh and new ideas are hard to come by. What you need is to sprout new neural pathways in your brain, and change is the best way to stimulate neuron growth. To put it more simply: To think differently, do things differently. Start with your commute to work.

If you live far away, try taking public transportation instead of driving. If you live nearby, try walking or riding a bike. Even taking a different family car can make your commute a new experience.

If you're afraid to give up your automobile, try merely taking a different route to work every day for a week. Approach the plant from a different direction. Come through the slums, or the country. If you live to the north,approach from the south.

Oh, the places you'll go!

Does all of this seem silly to you? The road-less-traveled metaphor is highly appropriate to the situation most printers now find themselves in. Doing the same old thing leaves you stuck, day after day, in the traffic jam of competition. Discovering the right new product, process or market is like finding yourself on an open road that you didn't know existed.

If you aren't even willing to alter or adapt your commute, then I suggest you seriously think twice before committing half a million dollars or more to the purchase of a digital press. If you can't (or won't) approach your business in a new way, then that hunk of digital iron will end up being just one more press to keep busy. It is no small task to change the way you think. You'd better get started now unless, of course, the same old way still is working for you.