If You Only Remember 3 Things from Fall Meeting

10/23/2017

We just got back from another fantastic Fall Meeting! While we had a lot of fun at the Omni resort in Scottsdale, we also addressed some of the most pressing issues affecting our businesses today. Between the speaker sessions, workshops, and committee meetings, we learned enough to keep our to-do lists full for quite some time. If you haven’t updated yours, here are three key areas to focus on.

Lead Through Culture
According to our first speaker, Linda Massman, president and CEO of Clearwater Paper, packaging companies succeed when we unite employees through culture and core values. Linda shared her organization’s values, which include Character (treating others with respect and maintaining high levels of integrity), Collaboration (strengthening others by sharing knowledge and insights), Commitment (making and meeting commitments) and Communication (listening, seeking to understand, and being responsive). Those cultural values guide how Clearwater makes decisions, who they hire, and how they interact with stakeholders both internally and externally.

Later on, consultant Mike Scott shared his vision of the most effective kind of organizational culture—and that’s an accountable one. As Mike says, all employees in a totally accountable organization “do what they say they will do, as they say they will do it, when they say they will do it—period.” Mike shared several steps in creating a culture of total accountability, including paraphrasing or repeating all verbal requests as well as agreeing upon completion dates and times for all assigned work. He also noted that leaders should model accountability in all areas of life.

Prioritize Cybersecurity
From ransomware to phishing scams and identity theft, today’s cyber threats are increasing both in number and sophistication. In fact, Ryan MacFarlane from the FBI (pictured here) told attendees that it’s not a matter of if their companies will become the victim of a cyber attack, but when. Many businesses have fallen for the “supplier swindle” tactic where a cyber criminal masquerades as a trusted supplier and requests payment in a “new” bank account. Another common threat is ransomware, software that blocks access to key data until the victim pays a ransom.

Fortunately, Ryan noted that a cyber attack doesn’t necessary equal disaster—but mishandling that attack certainly can. To mitigate the effects, we need to design specific processes, controls and, relationships into our business operations. And, most importantly, those processes must be tested on a regular basis!

Adapt to Change
For better or for worse, the marketplace is changing. Economist Jeff Rosensweig even described the global market as a stormy sea of economic and geopolitical uncertainty. Looking at the consumer market specifically, Tom Oris, director of procurement at Wyandot Snacks, told us that brand owners are experiencing new and tremendous pressure from all sides…and that means they’re looking to us for both cost concessions and more value-added ways to distinguish their products at retail.

Tom suggested that we adapt to brand owners’ expanding needs by looking inwards and optimizing our manufacturing processes. Key areas include capacity for small run sizes and digital printing, extended color gamut options, speed of changeovers, and general flexibility. If you think that new equipment may help in this optimization, then Jeff Rosensweig has good news for you: despite global uncertainties, he remarked during the meeting, worldwide economic growth rates are rising in some key economies, and interest rates should remain low. Therefore, paperboard packaging manufacturers may want to consider increased capital expenditures.

The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) is also helping to manage change through public policy. President Donna Harman updated attendees on AF&PA’s latest legislative and regulatory efforts, encouraging us to get involved. According to Donna, when government leaders hear the same message from business leaders as well as industry organizations like AF&PA and PPC, they are much more likely to act in ways that support the industry.

Ready to get to work? There’s much to be done, but your business is worth it. Your fellow members will be eager to hear about your progress at Spring Meeting!  

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