Embracing uncertainty

Posted on Sep 14, 2020 :: Editors Note
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

A fire. A hurricane. A mass shooting within a plant. A pandemic. A year ago, the last item on this list may have seemed inconceivable, and yet a pandemic, the aforementioned disasters and many other calamities are predictable, and with proper planning, companies can prepare for them. I suspect many organizations have learned the hard way the importance of disaster readiness, but it’s not too late to change for the better.

This month’s cover story starting on page 12 looks at the importance of crisis planning. Writer Nikki Kallio talked to several experts who share ideas for formulating plans that include developing an effective communication strategy for both internal and external audiences, taking care of team members after a crisis has occurred and continuing to forge plans to cope with the changing dynamics of the pandemic.

The food and beverage industry is one that’s found itself in upheaval throughout the pandemic. Businesses like 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. in Sheboygan have faced shifting consumer demands and shortages on key supplies such as aluminum cans and sugar. Lakeside Foods in Manitowoc and Nueske’s in Wittenberg moved quickly to adapt to changes in what people were eating and how they procured that food. Read this month’s Back Office feature on page 31 to learn more about how supply chain issues and changing habits have affected the industry.

Daniel Burrus, futurist, author and disruptive technology expert, would surely applaud these companies’ efforts in adapting. He’ll serve as the lead-off keynote speaker at this year’s 10th annual Manufacturing First Expo & Conference. While uncertainty can create fear and discomfort, it also brings opportunities, and it’s imperative for companies to seize those, he says.

For those who feel overwhelmed with this period in time (I’m one!), Burrus recommends looking at the duality of every situation. When something good happens, something bad can happen and vice versa. Look at what you can do instead of what you can’t, what you do know instead of what you don’t, what we can all agree on, not what we disagree on, he says.

In my own life, I can see a lot of Burrus’ wisdom playing out. I’ve been following his advice all along without even knowing it. When the pandemic and an unending barrage of changes hit me and my family, I did what I could to stay sane and well. If I couldn’t summon the stamina to run, I walked or practiced yoga, and now I feel strong enough to run again. My son, who’s starting his freshman year at UW-Madison, has decided to study remotely for his first semester. He’s forgoing living in the dorm (bad), but he’s saving money and staying healthy at home (good).

Turn to my Manufacturing First preview on page 24 to learn more about what you can expect from Burrus and this year’s all-virtual, three-day event. And check out our special section after page 25 for the full rundown. Yes, the conference will look different this year, but I hope you’ll attend to connect with others, gather new ideas and come away inspired for the challenges that lie ahead. “See” you there!