By Dave Labuskes
Executive Director, InfoComm
I talked with my 21-year old son yesterday while I was on the way home from the airport. We got to talking about making decisions — the costs and the benefits. Of course, that’s my perspective of the conversation, as a “wise and all-knowing” Baby Boomer father. I’m sure his perspective, as a brilliant and all-knowing millennial, was more along the lines of, “My dad called me yesterday to lecture me again about my future.”
But I digress; I’ll leave inter-generational workplace thoughts for another day. Today I wanted to talk about choices and decisions.
I’ve heard it said that President John F. Kennedy and his team were successful in managing the Cuban Missile Crisis to its resolution because of the absolute perfect timing of their decisions. Not a single decision was made too quickly, nor were any decisions delayed beyond the moment they were needed. You see, an early decision takes options off the table before it’s necessary. A late decision dilutes the impact of your choice, forcing more drastic action to achieve the same outcome. And when you’re forced into action, it increases the risk of making a bad choice.
So time your decisions well.
But make them! If you don’t, life will make decisions for you. (Wait…flashing back to the conversation with my son again.) I ask you to make some decisions — and accept the consequences. No, celebrate the consequences and use them as a strategy.
Decide how you will differentiate yourself in the marketplace. We can decide to allow ourselves to be commoditized — I suppose that’s a strategy that someone will pursue effectively. But I’d rather inspire our industry to decide to pursue a value proposition that’s as far as possible from commoditized technology delivery.
We can decide to be key partners to our clients, but to do that we must see ourselves that way first. And I know that everything I write here is easy to write and harder to do. And I know that you already have a really, really hard job.
If we decide that we are strategic partners, then we must bring strategic value. To bring strategic value, we must be contributing to strategy.
What does that mean? It means that we aren’t solving little problems or making tactical improvements. It means we’re enabling directional shifts for our customers. How can you do that without training your staff to think like that? How can you do that without adopting and utilizing every single standard that you can in order to eliminate guesswork from the implementation tasks of your assignments? How can you do that if you are selling your client on a technology rather than an experience?
Obviously, would I argue you can’t.
And back to it: I know that you’re faced with an incredibly complex task today. The integration of AV systems is difficult. The expectations of our client base climb daily. And the challenge to deliver this work in an environment that is fanatically competitive, with hair-thin margins, grows constantly.
But you are not alone. InfoComm was started over 75 years ago to help advance this industry. And our mission stands today. I think, at our core, InfoComm’s job can be seen as ensuring that you have choices upon which to make your decisions. As you explore, plan and position yourself and your firm for the future, we want to give you the resources to back up whatever choices you make.
If you choose commoditization, you need access to information to get to the least expensive product, the least expensive methods and the barest minimums to deliver a functioning system. If you choose “strategic partner,” then you’ll need access to thought leadership, relationships with top talent, skills and knowledge, and more.
We want to ensure that what you need today is what we’re offering. We are your trade association. We think we’re helping you by offering education, standards, training and trade shows around the world. If you need something else, tell us. If we should stop wasting your time with something, tell us. If we should be teaching something else, tell us.
We’re here for you. It’s why we come to work each morning. And it’s why so many of you have donated countless volunteer hours to make us what we are today.
Evaluate your options and choose a path. It needn’t be a final answer. In life and business we can — and must — reevaluate our path regularly to determine if it continues to be the best way forward and adjust if it isn’t. And yes, that advice was for my son, too.
This blog was reprinted with permission from InfoComm International and originally appeared here.