Faster Than Fast

Greetings.  I have some good news and some not-so-good news for traditional newspapers.  All because we finally decided to test our ability to live without one for awhile.  Yes, a few months ago we found the courage to cancel our subscription to the Washington Post.  Not because we had grown tired of, or upset with, the paper–though they had made some changes and cutbacks in the business and book sections that did frustrate us.  But because, in the pace of our lives, we just weren't getting around to reading it that often and the daily issues were becoming large piles of outdated news waiting to be recycled.  So it didn't seem like the best investment or the greenest way to get news.   

But after a couple of months we realized how much we'd missed this old friend, and yesterday afternoon I went on-line to re-subscribe.  It was a simple process accomplished on the very same website that now brings us up-to-the-minute news instantly from around the corner and around the world.  And for some reason I assumed that it would take a few days for our new subscription to start.  After all, I figured that the world of traditional newspapers moves at a relatively slow pace. Yet this morning, about twelve hours after I had placed our order, the Post was back on our doorstep–just like he or she had never left.  And for a moment I was excited about how fast they had met my need and exceeded my expectations.

Until I recalled the genius of being faster than fast.

I guess I'll always love getting comfortable with a real newspaper.  Or at least on the days when I have time to sit back with a cup of coffee and the sports section or op ed page.  But in today's news business, there really is no substitute for instant. For learning about something almost as soon as it happens.  For turning to the computer (or a cable TV channel)–no matter how hard it is to get comfortable with a screen–to find out the news not just from one source but from literally all the sources and perspectives in the world.  And with a few clicks of a mouse (or a remote).  Just after it has happened.

So it got me thinking about how many of our businesses continue to live with a traditional newspaper model.  Even when our customers are surfing the web, searching for answers, and expecting us to redefine the very notion of what it means to be fast.  Whether we sell business or personal services, contract with government, or provide healthcare, information technology, entertainment, hospitality, or almost anything else.  After all, how long should it take to get our car serviced?  Or process a refund check?  Or find out the results of a lab test?  Or get room service at a favorite hotel? 

Newspaper 2  

We win in business when we are as fast as possible in delivering value to our customers.  And sometimes this means being faster than fast.


Breaking Down Walls That Divide Us

Greetings.  Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It was an event that unfolded before many of our eyes and changed, in an instant, not only the face of Europe but our connection to the dreams and aspirations of many people we didn't really know.  People who yearned to reunite with family, friends, and the rest of their country.  People who imagined that participation in a broader world would mean greater opportunities for self-expression.  

But in the absence of these epic moments in history, do we really understand and value people in other places?  People who have very different ideas, insights, and genius.  Or do they remain little more than faces in news stories, too far away to matter to our lives as people, organizations, and nations.  One might argue that many of our biggest challenges today are due to a lack of understanding of other people and other places, and the often misplaced beliefs that they desire to be just like us or are too different from us to warrant our interest or attention. The truth is at neither extreme, which actually creates far more intriguing and powerful opportunities to share, learn, and eventually collaborate.

So as you begin this week, spend some time thinking about someplace in the news that seems different and also fascinating.  Then commit to learning more about it and what makes it remarkable.  After all, there is something remarkable about every place on earth.  Then try to imagine how its brilliance could help you and your colleagues to be even more brilliant and successful.

Berlin Wall 

We win in business and in life by breaking down the walls that divide. What walls keep you from reaching out and discovering the genius in other people and other places?  And what will you be doing in the days and weeks ahead to remove them?