What is leadership? That’s a loaded question, but maybe it’s not the right question. What makes a good leader? That might be the right question to ask—especially given the fact that this issue is about the Best of the Best in the wide-format industry.
The folks from FESPA in their “60 Minutes to Innovation” presentation have a thought provoking series of slides and a great saying which gets you thinking. “In today’s modern business environment, being an average graphic printer is not enough. Do what you've always done and you will get what you have always got.”
While I admit the wording is a little weird, the sentiment and meaning are very true. If you’re always doing the same exact thing every day, what can you expect but to get the same exact result? Honestly, it's a little crazy to expect something different. Keep in mind that old adage, often attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
What kind of leader are you? What makes the owners in the Top Shops good or even great leaders? What makes the products in the Top Products good or great products?
Success and great leadership—whether for an individual in a business or a manufacturer in the industry—comes from doing something different, taking risks, and being innovative. But how do you do something different when you're running your business or building a new product? It means you have to think differently, talk differently, and communicate differently—and in many cases do much more of all that than you already are.
The 2011 Top Shops and the Top Product Winners understand this principle and have found success in very difficult times. They understand that it is crucial for innovative companies and good leaders to be long-term focused. Short sighted planning, or worse, no planning at all, will get you exactly nowhere. Especially in today’s marketplace.
Tim Fullmer, president/CEO, Vision International—one of the Top Shops and Leaders of 2011—summarized it well. “Our strategy for 2011 includes significant efforts in new product development, aggressive social media and Internet marketing, and expanding our overall marketing tactics to create new inbound business opportunities. We are taking an otherwise static industry sales model and converting it to a proactive client outreach.”
What do you see in Vision’s approach? They’re developing new products and programs and are willing to take risks, even in uncertain times. They’re creating new business opportunities through innovative marketing and proactive outreach programs. They’re not sitting back waiting for business to come to them. They’re proactively looking for it.
Do your customers perceive your company as a innovator? Or are you still just doing the same old things over and over? The answers to those questions can reveal the future of your business.