This is the first article in a three part series that begins by delving into the business conditions and ends with strategies used by leaders to increase profitability (based off the principle of creating a ‘Culture of Urgency’).

The latest State of the Industry report written by my old friend Andy Paparozzi, the Chief Economist at IdeaAlliance, was recently published. A preview of the report is available on the IdeaAlliance website and in an article published in Printing Impressions. These summaries are worth reading and, like most economic reports, contains both good news and bad news.

The bad news? The printing business conditions in 2017 will look a lot like business in 2016. That means that sales in the first half 2017 will be below the gain seen in the same period last year.

The good news is that, despite the weakness, business conditions are growing at least 5% for 46% and at least 10 % for 31%. More importantly however, 49% reported profitability above year-earlier levels, nearly double the 27% who report the opposite.

Increase Profitability with Operational Excellence

When respondents were asked why profitability was up, more credited actions they’ve taken as opposed to changes in the economy. The two most important actions were: holding the line on costs (61%) and increasing production efficiencies (42%).

Increasing profitability in the printing industry is not easy to do. It is the financial objective that eludes most organizations and as discussed in the report may be tied to a lack of urgency and discipline.

“It isn’t enough to set priorities for our companies. We have to create urgency around our priorities by reinforcing companywide that they are not options, filler for the strategic plan or nice things to do if we ever get the time. They are necessities that must be addressed — now. And we have to cultivate the discipline — again, company wide — to address them without being lax, distracted or sloppy in our execution.”

Questions to Consider:

  • Could the distinction between those who increase profitability and those that don’t be cultural?
  • Do profit leaders engender a culture of urgency and discipline?
  • If the answer is yes, what are the building blocks in creating that culture?
  • Is it possible that some staff have a sense of urgency and others do not?
  • What is that ratio and can we improve it?

In the second part of this story entitled, “Nine Steps to Create a Culture of Urgency”, we will answer these questions.