Is planning for the future a thing of the past?
September 28, 2012 Leave a comment
It seems these days that we see aspects of this throughout our daily lives. If I reflect on when I was growing up, I was surrounded by people enforcing the importance of planning for the future. It was discussed both at home and at school. Investments were made in quality product and consumer goods generally had an extended life span. People discussed and strategically planned for their retirements. The quality of produced goods was likely a direct output of a high level of investments in manufacturing and employees. Most companies were very good about planning for the future as they rarely operated under the pretense that positions would be eliminated or transferred. The cloud of vast uncertainty was not as pronounced as it is today.
On the consumer side, personal debt is now at an alarming rate in Canada and every other G8 country with very few properly planning for their retirement. The ease of borrowing and over extension has placed many without the skills of proper fiscal management in very difficult positions. There are indicators of the present-focused trend in business as well. For those of us the stainless steel business, we have been working within a depressed market for a number of years now. Compare this to the industry 10 years ago when it was, as many have said, easy to sell stainless steel. As long as you could produce at a competitive cost in a reasonable time period, business was easy to secure. Today, demand for carbon steel greatly exceeds that of stainless and it raises the question – is this reflective of society’s inclination to spend less now without consideration for useful life? Capacity for stainless steel production currently exceeds demand and this economic balance can lead to price erosion and inappropriate cost cutting in order to secure business.
This importance of placing the value on now and not understanding the impact this has on the future means companies delay implementing positive strategies and we become very risk adverse. Those who have the backbone to focus on the future even if it means sacrificing short –term results are immediately written off by analysts and media like Research in Motion. This notion that all returns are immediate may result in eroding long term sustainability.
So how do we continue to plan ahead and not focus too much on today. Perhaps we should reflect on the fundamentals we learned years ago – want vs. need, saving for a rainy day and researching the quality of the manufacturers you are choosing. At our company, we know we are not offering the cheapest product, but we want to be the best value for the buyer. We strive to offer quality products, competitive lead times and a high level of customer service offering the best lifetime value for your dollar.
We invite you to think of your recent purchases, both in your personal and professional life. What were the main factors in your decision making process?