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November 3, 2008

News & Opinion: That conversation.

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 6:28 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

We had that conversation on Thursday. The one we're all having. About the economy. About how it's affecting our customers, businesses, economy and our lives.
Some are feeling the immediate gravity of the economic pain. Others are more insulated. I was flying home from Arizona on a Midwest flight. The pilot came on the intercom and expressed his thanks to we passengers for our patronage. Then goes on to tell of how Midwest is cutting their fleet (the airplanes) to a quarter of its size at the beginning of the 2008. Not to worry, though, the jobs of your flight attendants are safe. Myself and my co-pilot here, are not so lucky. We're being let go in the next week.
That was two weeks ago.
And each week we keep learning more about our economy and how it is faltering. I have this overwhelming urge to click on every news story about what's going on. This weekend, I listened to two or three This American Life episodes detailing the financial crisis. Who's to blame. How it started. What does it mean.
It's frustrating, really. I agree with Todd, I'm quickly growing tired of the doom and gloom. There's a sense of helplessness about the whole crisis and a desire to rest on our laurels until something more definite happens. What do we do?
Like Dylan said, we can change our organizations and communities. Where does that start? With communication.
We have to talk about what's going on in the world, tell the stories of what's happening. Two books to help...Stephen Denning's The Secret Language of Leadership and Nick Morgan's Give a Speech, Change the World. Both Stephen and Nick would agree that the key to changing the world is communication.
Beyond that, these are good times to go and sharpen our tools. Aaron, at our office gathering last week, suggested that in the slower times, we work on fixing and creating operations and things we don't have time to focus on when it's busy season. Bill Taylor worries that many of us will learn the wrong lessons--specifically, that we will become too conservative and risk-averse, that we will learn to fear creativity rather than embrace it.
A few spots to learn from -- This American Life (agh! I can't get away from it), more on communication with the aforementioned Nick Morgan, the always provocative Josh and Axel, for non-business books from our partners in crime, and for new recipes to aid that learning pursuit. And, of course, indexed cards are good for humor.
More coming soon. And welcome to November.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.