by Bob Raus of Océ North America's Digital Document Systems Division March 27, 2006 -- The leadership of a company determines if the organization is right-brained or left-brained. If you don't believe me, think about the last reorganization you endured. If the old leader and new leader were from different backgrounds (say marketing vs. engineering), I'll bet the direction changed dramatically. Executives need to encourage employees to use both their reasoning and creative abilities and should hire people who compliment their company's strongest skills Is your company taking a creative, imaginative and innovative approach to development of new products and sales strategies for your target markets (right-brained) or is it primarily logical, numbers-oriented, and results driven (left-brained)? While both can work to some extent independently, neither is the best path to overall success. In fact, using only half your company's brain could be a formula for the corporate equivalent of a mental breakdown--hence the credo "paralysis from over-analysis." In most people, one side of the brain tends to be dominant, which is why there aren't many accountants moonlighting as graphic designers --and why creative and innovative companies aren't necessarily the most profitable. Wall Street and the marketplace cover the entire spectrum, so in today's competitive environment it is not enough for a company to rely on only half of its brain. The logical, quantitative and pragmatic minds must team up with the imaginative and innovative ones to draw on all the skills, talents and ideas within a company. My mother used to tell me that it takes a community --not just a strong family-- to raise a well-balanced and successful child. In the same vein, I want to challenge the IT and Marketing leaders within a company to work closely to develop and execute winning business strategies. The senior leadership team is directly responsible for imbuing this kind of thinking throughout their organization. In the data centers and in-house printshops of corporate America, the inability to shift work between devices in each department is causing a right and left brain scenario. Business lore is full of examples of businesses with great ideas but which lacked the implementation skills or financial knowledge to build a sustainable business model. Likewise, there are other examples of companies that lacked the imagination to see how trends and technologies were changing their industries and markets (manufacturers of typewriters and phototypesetters come to mind). Executives need to encourage employees to use both their reasoning and creative abilities and should hire people who compliment their company's strongest skills --team by team. Proactively doing so can help create a business that is closer to maximizing its potential --and using all of its brain. Many top executives do this as a matter of course, and strive to show middle managers and employees the overall goals of the organization. The execs who do not show their employees how they must work together to move the business forward are in danger of finding their companies at a disadvantage in the marketplace, their shareholders dissatisfied and themselves on the street. Recipe for a Corporate Migraine: Seeing only One Side of a Problem Meanwhile, in the data centers and in-house printshops of corporate America, the inability to shift work between devices in each department is causing a right and left brain scenario. The existing IT infrastructure and organizational fiefdoms are costing extra dollars, wasting employee time and preventing document production from being as efficient as possible. In many of the RFPs I've seen over the last 12 months it's clear that the people requesting new solutions often look at only one side of the problem they are trying to solve. Seeking more productivity, faster devices for one department seem the logical answer. So they look for hardware solutions: faster print speeds, improved pre- and post-processing equipment, and better paper handling. Other times they're looking for ways to control their workflows and have more flexibility in how documents are created, prepared and processed. Those needs call for software solutions. The companies putting out these RFPs are absolutely serious about what they are trying to achieve, but it is very much like the left and right brain not always working together. The answer is not hardware or software, and the results affect the overall corporate print infrastructure. The answer is not hardware or software, and the results affect the overall corporate print infrastructure. What these firms really need to do is step back and look at the goals of trying to increase productivity and reduce costs using heir entire corporate brain. The answer is a Print Infrastructure for the documents they need to create, manage, print, scan and archive. The focus must be on achieving the goals, without prejudice and pre-conceived answers to how they are achieved in order to deliver true benefits. In most cases, this will involve investing in or making changes to both hardware and software with respect to how each affects the business process that use the documents. Key business benefits like lower production costs, faster turnaround, increased throughput, enhanced reliability, and improved accuracy all have positive benefits for the print production operation and the bottom line as a whole. Seeing these for your company means looking beyond how technology can benefit a department to how it can help the entire enterprise. For example, there are elements of Océ's PRISMA workflow software used in data centers and in-house printshops that can support office and network printing, scanning, remote proofing, and web-based job submission and printing that can help all parts of a company work smarter and more efficiently. But it's easy to overlook these tools if a default answer to buy more hardware is allowed to squelch the right hand side of your corporate brain. As you look for solutions to your production challenges, first understand and document the existing business process. As you look for solutions to your production challenges, first understand and document the existing business process. Avoid looking beyond the problem and beginning the process with a pre-defined answer. This type of thinking must be mandated by the senior leadership team. After all, if you cut your finger, or break your arm --is it your arm's fault-- or the brain's fault for putting you in the situation in the first place?