Trio of RIT Industry Leaders Roll Out “UnSquaring the Wheel” Initiative

At Monday afternoon’s Rochester Institute of Technology conference, RIT School of Media Professor Chris Bondy introduced the audience to news of the institute’s new faculty members, enhanced facilities, and expanded curricula.

The most important news, however, was the launch of “UnSquaring the Wheel,” a new, not-for-profit information and education resource for graphic communications leaders.

Bondy teamed with Wayne Peterson of the Black Canyon Consulting Group and Dr. Joe Webb of Strategies for Management to create the initiative, which focuses on business model transitions and seeks to begin addressing the question Bondy described as, “How do traditional printers become cross-media solutions providers?”

From the beginning, Bondy, Peterson, and Webb agreed UnSquaring the Wheel should be accessible and usable by companies of all sizes, and would have to tackle not just one functional area but the entire enterprise and business model.

“No aspect of UnSquaring the Wheel is ‘cookie-cutter’ or ‘one-size-fits-all,’” Webb said. “To create a durable competitive advantage, an organization must maximize its differences and minimize the ways in which it is the same as its competitors.”

Business owners participating in UnSquaring the Wheel begin with a self-assessment, in which they create snapshots of their businesses, and identify strengths, resources, and challenges across the entire firm. From that self-assessment, a plan can be created to rebuild the basic model of the business. “The assessment tool prioritizes what they need to do before they begin this process,” Webb said.

Added Peterson: “Our focus has been on what it takes to build a healthy and growing business in the face of declining demand and intense competition. There is no single ‘silver bullet’ answer to the challenge of creating a new and durable competitive advantage. There is no one aspect of a company that can do it alone. So we addressed that reality head on.”

Bondy, Peterson, and Webb also produced a two-day workshop to introduce executives and owners to the UnSquaring process. In the course of the workshop, participants will be able to focus on their businesses’ needs. Leveraging that information and the lessons learned in the self-assessment, they end up with a customized action plan.

“The starting point right now is the two-day workshop,” Bondy said. “But ultimately, a small printer on a tight budget will access it through an entirely online component.”

All three founders of UnSquaring the Wheel will be available to consult with individual companies as part of the program.