A long, long time ago in a place very far from here...
No. Wait. It was Beloit in the steamy Summer of '98. The alligators were coming up the steps to get in the shade of the porch...
No. Hang on. It was fairly pleasant that Summer in Beloit and the closest alligators were on the menu at Heaven on Seven in Chicago. But that's neither here nor there right now.
The point is (didja think I didn't have a point?) that it seems like a very long time but it's just only 10 years ago. A pittance, a trifle in economic planning terms.
Six of us were pulled off the road and told that we were a By-God Planning Team. We were going to figure out ways to save money for the Fleet. Nothing was off-limits. Everyone would take our calls (I may still have that 1997 company-wide phone directory. I think it was the last one on paper.)
We worked our tails off. Calling people and writing spreadsheets (yes, dammit. In Lotus 1-2-3.) We came up with five first-rate Action Plans and presented the Hell out of them when the VP's tour came through town the end of the week.
Then. Nothing happened. We were shocked, shocked, I say and not a little appalled that the Fleet Team didn't run right out and implement each and every one of our Action Items. Hadn't we shown them how well they worked, how much money they could save by spending a little?
1999 came and went and 2000 right along behind it. In 2001 two of our Action Items showed up on some of the agendas for regional and national teams. By 2002 there were more in place. By 2003 and 2004 all of the Action Plans we'd identified and reported out were in place and saving money in one or more Fleet locations but Beloit was running with all of them and building on them as well, finding new ways to save and improve.
It's hard work to plan and even harder to implement those plans, especially if they call for a change in the culture. But it's worth it to stick with it. Results show. Patience and perseverance pay off.
Congratulations to my old teams in Beloit. Now, let's see how planning can pay off again a little closer to home.