Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day & age of shifting changes

Learning & Innovation 
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Day and age of shifting changes

USA is asserting itself as a thought leader.  There are conferences and discussions on various subjects going on simultaneously in different parts of the country simultaneously and one after the other.  For example, there are book fairs every month in different states and in Los Angeles several literary events like the BookExpo America  (BEA) and Leimert Park Book Fair came at the heels of each other.  Then there are meetings and symposia on various aspects of the arts, sciences, technology, medicine, and others.  The annual International Conference and Exposition sponsored by American Society for Training and Development happened June 1-4 in San Diego while that of the Society for Human Resource Management will happen on June 22-25 in Chicago.  Rotarians from all over the world will convene in Los Angeles this June 15-18.

An observation is that one common major topic for all these meeting of minds is change--evolutionary or small developmental changes and revolutionary or quantum leap changes.  Some of this changes involve shifts in direction and mindsets.  When directions and mindsets change, actions, behaviors and emotions change and so do needs, wants, expectations, products and services.

At BEA, people are talking about changes in printing method from the traditional to digital.  This shift in method could mean a cleaner, healthier work environment for workers and faster turnaround of products, but it might also mean loss of job because lesser number of employees could work on multitasking machines.

A more radical shift is in the delivery of products, from hard copy to electronic copy.   However, publishers are not too keen on the idea.  They say that people could share a hard copy to one person at a time.  They might photocopy the book, but it might be too expensive and not comfortable to read.  A digital copy could be uploaded on the Internet and downloaded by any number of readers or one digital copy could be sent to so many addressees in just one click.  The digital book might not be a sound business proposition.

In the news nowadays here in San Diego, California, are shifts in ways of doing businesses and in lifestyle to help cope with the still-rising cost of gasoline.  GM announced that it will close four truck and SUV plants and rethink its gas-guzzling Hummer options to either sell or kill the brand.  It will also pursue its production of an all-electric car, build new global compact car for Chevrolet, produce high-efficient engines and improve its operations.   USA Today reports that what is happening to GM is another sign that the auto industry faces a bleak reality:  "The days of big wheels are over."

Argus Research analyst Kevin Tynan was quoted by USA Today, "Hummer was always about being the biggest, most rugged, most ridiculous thing on the world.  What that says to me is that for this brand to stay competitive,  it has to move away from its mission statement.   The 15-year trend of SUVs and pickup trucks is over, that's what everyone is saying today. "

GM is not just changing, it is shifting its direction and mindset.  GM CEO Rick Wagoner says,  "Higher gasoline prices are changing consumer behavior, and they are significantly affecting the U.S. auto industry sales mix."

The same issue of high pump price is being used by some other companies to drive sales.  USA Today reports that among them is upscale Callaway Golf, with an "increase your driving distance" giveaway of gasoline cards up to $100 with the purchase of select drivers.  "Tee price of gas is a concern for everybody,"  Callaway spokeswoman Michele Szynal says.  "If  people are considering buying a non-essential product like a golf club, this helps ease the guilt."

Other companies going for more mileage from gas, according to USA Today, are Charter Communications ($25, $50, $100 gasoline cards to customers who go online or upgrade its TV, Internet and phone services.) and Chrysler (car buyers cards good for a fixed price of $2.99 per gallon for up to 12,000 miles a year for three years).

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