Have you ever been in a meeting where two executives face off, each on the opposite side of a critical issue? You watch the debate like you would a tennis match, with each participant knocking the issue back to the other side. As they volley back and forth, the debate picks up in intensity, and neither side will back down. Suddenly it’s no longer about the issue and what’s best for the business; each executive just wants to win. To hell with compromise—it’s all or nothing!
It’s a sad day for me. Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and Ding Dongs, is going out of business. While my midsection may not look like it, I haven’t had a Twinkie—or any other Hostess product, for that matter—in more than 30 years. But I hate to see them go. Twinkies were a part of my childhood. Somehow, on occasion, we could convince my mother to pick up a box of those golden treats with absolutely zero nutritional value. That was no small feat! My mother refused to buy any form of sugared cereal, but every once in a while, we could coax her into buying a box of Twinkies.
Remember, the “Where’s the beef?” commercials Wendy’s restaurants began running in 1984? The advertising slogan soon became a catch phrase anytime someone wanted to question the substance of an idea or product.
It seems to me, with apologies to my middle school English teacher, “Where’s the jobs?” is an appropriate slogan for the current, so-called economic recovery. Economists have been telling us for months that the economy is growing again, albeit at a relatively slow pace. We’ve seen some modest improvements in the number of new jobless claims — that is, until recent weeks. It seems that the new jobless claims rose to 496,000 last week and that the unemployment rate is once again creeping into double-digit territory.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Inaugural, and my guess is that he’s not doing a lot of celebrating. That’s because yesterday, in a special Senate election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat, Massachusetts voters elected a Republican to represent them.
President Obama and Democrats across the country must be asking themselves and each other, “How did this happen?”
It’s hard to believe but 2009 is coming to an end. For many, 2009 can’t be over soon enough. For most businesses, it has been a challenging year. And while we’ve seen a rebound in the stock market, most companies are reporting earnings that, while they beat analysts’ estimates, are still significantly less than they were a year ago.
Many companies report their results on a calendar year, which means they’re in the middle or just wrapping up their budgeting process for 2010. So, as you look into your crystal ball, what are you predicting for the year ahead? Do you see an economic recovery? What about the so-called “jobless recovery”? How will an economic recovery that doesn’t include jobs affect your business? Will things get better in the first quarter or the fourth? When will corporate spending return, since so many companies are beating earnings estimates by cutting costs?
All right, I’m officially over the recession. I’m tired of reading, writing, thinking, and talking about it. Most of all I’m tired of having to deal with it every day in our business. I long for the good ol’ days. For our industry — publishing — that was the go-go ’90s. But at this point I’d settle for anything pre-2008. But for some reason, even though I’m tired of it, the recession is undaunted by my feelings. It continues to rage on, taking its toll on all of us.
No one is exempt. Earlier this year Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, an executive recruiting firm, released data that showed 1,484 CEOs left the corner office in 2008. That number was the most since Challenger began the survey a decade earlier. Of course, some of the executives retired, others just walked away, and many were shown the door because of the poor performance of the companies they led. But it’s no coincidence that a record number of CEOs exited the corner office during the worst economic downturn since World War II. No one in the current workforce has ever managed through anything like it. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun.
Is anyone else concerned about the decisions being made by companies during the current economic crisis? Let me rephrase that. Is anyone else concerned about the decisions being made by the PEOPLE inside some companies during the economic crisis?
Let’s face it, people make decisions. The decisions may be made on behalf of an organization, but they’re still made by individuals acting alone or as a group. And, frankly, I’ve got big questions about some of the decisions being made.
I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about strategic planning lately. I guess when all hell is breaking loose, as it has been for many businesses of late, it becomes real easy to question the strategic direction of the company. When sales are falling or profits are eroding, when new ventures are struggling to gain traction or long-term successes are beginning to wane, one begins to question the strategic direction of the business. It’s probably second nature.
Reviewing your company’s strategic direction is never a bad thing. It never hurts to reconsider past assumptions or decisions to make sure that they’ve had the desired effect on the business. But a few words of caution if you’re considering reevaluating your business’ strategic plan: read more…
On June 23, the Business Roundtable released its Second Quarter 2009 CEO Economic Outlook Survey and there is reason for some optimism. While it’s not all blue skies and sunshine, it does appear that the storm clouds may be clearing. Good news is rare these days so I thought the survey was worthy of some attention.
First a little about the Business Roundtable and the survey. The Business Roundtable is an association of CEOs of leading corporations, representing a combined workforce of nearly 10 million employees and more than $5 trillion in annual revenues. The CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the fourth quarter of 2002, provides a glimpse into the economic outlook of the member companies.