Recently, we engaged with Aileron to develop a strategic plan for the future of Oregon. I don’t know about what business you’re in, but in the printing business I felt like we really need to know what we are in for over the next couple of years. It was a very enlightening process. First off, I have to praise Aileron, if you are not familiar with them and you are a small business anywhere near Dayton (or in Ohio for that matter), you should be. I wrote a blog on taking the Class for Presidents when this whole process started, and it’s just gotten better.

So, after Bob and myself had both taken the Class for Presidents, we got together our management team and went out for a day of Strategic Planning. It was very enlightening. We collected a lot of research on Oregon from clients, employees and mixed it together with solid information on the printing & graphics industry. At that point, we were not only able to see where we stand, but where we need to go. It was a long day, but I felt good about what we did. One thing about Aileron, is that they are adamant that any assumptions, research and plans be based in reality. That’s part of what makes it all work.

OK, so what was the outcome? After we reviewed (and modified) our mission and vision statements, we were able to set some targets for revenue, COGS (cost of goods sold), as well as what kind of technology and marketing dollars need to be spent. This was after an in-depth SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats). And after that, we were able to lay out some priorities that will make us better at what we do. That means making changes and improvements to our sales process and our production process as well as our new digital printing department. We actually all took ownership of at least 4 or 5 tasks each and put a deadline on getting them done. And we will all review this action plan at least once a week to make sure we are all on the same page. Thats what I mean about Focus, we are all so focused on getting these things done as a team, I can’t imagine them not being done sooner than later.

Secondly, the results of the SWOT analysis told us a lot about ourselves. I have seen so many businesses in this tough economy jump into other services and products as a knee jerk reaction or just because they are scared. But we were able to find out that we are very good at what we do, and the print market that we are in is probably the best segment of the entire print market to be in. So what do we do…we just keep improving our process, keep investing in technology and making our workflow of jobs through the shop better than ever. We don’t get scared, make knee jerk decisions or stray off of our path, we just stay focused on our tasks we came up with and move forward. You know the old saying, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Well, we want to know where we are going.

So with the help of the folks at Aileron, I don’t think we’ll stray off of our path in difficult times and I think (actually, I know) we’ll be all the better for it when things do turn around. I’m very optimistic about a good year this year and a great year next year.