What are the qualities that separate the graphic arts companies that succeed versus those that don’t make it?
The external realities for both are exactly the same: yet somehow, while many flounder, these firms navigate and even master the volatile waters.
Those distinguishing qualities are what Joseph Truncale, Ph.D., CEO and President of NAPL, had set out to find as part of his dissertation while getting his doctorate at New York University.
“I identified via a study 100 companies that outperformed the industry average by a wide margin, year after year,” explains Truncale. “I studied the companies, their performance, looking for the common threads that resulted in their success.”
Not only did Truncale examine what the companies did, he also studied the executive leaders themselves. Key attributes looked at included how the CEO viewed his/her role, as well as how the CEO interacted and communicated with the management team.
“What I found from this survey is that there is a gap in the industry. These leaders focused on how they interact with their management team. This is not being done by most of the industry,” says Truncale.
CEOs of high-performing companies have a strong management team and consider regularly how they are communicating with them. They also talk strategy.
In fact, within most organizations, management teams don’t meet regularly to talk strategy. Instead, the meetings tend to be focused on production.
NAPL, which regularly consults with leading companies, recommends that CEOs take their management teams offsite at least once a year; although given the rate of change in today’s environment twice a year would be even better.
“It’s important to get away from the day to day pressures, which are tremendous, to get outside that environment so you can take a step back and formulate strategy,” says Truncale.
Taking a page from Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, the idea is to think long and hard on how you are going to differentiate your company. “If your company is going to be the same as every other company, then your only path is to compete on price,” says Truncale.
In the latter scenario, your customers won’t think you are any better or worse than the other providers.
Another way to look at it, is to “finish the statement, ‘If your company went out of business today, another one exactly like it would have to start on Monday, because somebody has to blank...’”
On the other hand, if your company wouldn’t be missed, that’s a big problem.
To find those distinguishing assets, NAPL has its clients look at its customer facing strategy, what kind of customers they have success with, what kinds they don’t, what kind of talent they have on staff, what kind they don’t.
Tremendous opportunities exist in the marketplace; technology is both a blessing and curse.
“Technology has fundamentally changed how and how frequently we communicate with each other,” says Truncale. “While it’s a threat for traditional modes of communication, it’s also an opportunity to rethink the kind of business we are in.”
The shift in the mindset is to stop thinking just about the production piece, but about the outcome the customer is looking for and how you, as the communications provider, can facilitate it. As well as how you can demonstrate results for it.
“One of our clients said recently, ‘We sold more printing after we stopped selling printing,’” notes Truncale. “They aren’t selling printing; they are selling the outcome.”
NAPL is rolling out a new program that grapples with these topics head on. The program, announced at PRINT 13, is a joint effort between NAPL and Bob Rosen of R.H. Rosen Associates, Inc., whose firm has advised the CEOs of more than 600 graphic arts companies. It will consist of quarterly workshops, webinars, and other tools tied to helping the CEO transform the company. Sponsored by manroland’s sheetfed division, the program will show CEOs how to take advantage of the changes taking place within the graphic arts industry.