My New Year’s Wishes

My wife and I were talking the other evening while the tube played the usual holiday fare. This particular show featured some entertainment awards. At one point, I glanced over at the show and there was a singer, older than me, singing a song that he must have recorded in the 1950s or ’60s.

So I said to Cat: “Gee, how can someone sing the same song for 40 or 50 years? Doesn’t it get old?”

She looked at me over her laptop, gave me that sweet smile, and said, “Sweetheart, you should know. Haven’t you been singing the same song for years and years?”

I thought about it, and you know what? She’s right. My mission is defending in-plants. About 40 years ago, I had to defend my in-plant when a member of the city council where I worked decided we should send all of the city’s printing business to his brother. Or cousin. Or whomever. I’ve been doing it ever since.

And 40 years later, it’s the same old song with the same old tune. Management/administration questions why the organization has an in-plant (“That’s not the business we’re in.”), and the in-plant manager wonders why the guys that run the place don’t recognize the in-plant’s contribution.

I’ve worked on 50 or more projects over the past few years trying to help top management understand why they have an in-plant and why the in-plant really is “core” to whatever business they happen to be in. After a while, a theme starts to emerge, sort of like the singer belting out his signature song. It’s all too familiar.

I wish there was a way to help in-plant managers see things from my perspective. If I were to make three wishes for 2012, they would go like this:

Wish #1: I wish that in-plant managers would go to the trouble to understand―really understand―the business they’re in. And I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the printing business.

Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.

Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.

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