Building Airplanes—in the Air

At our All Employee meeting last week, I showed a video clip of an EDS commercial called “Airplanes.” It shows a crew building an airplane—while it is flying. This pretty much sums up how most of us are feeling this quarter.

The Fallon agency of Minneapolis produced the commercial. They also produced the EDS Cat Herders, EDS Running with the Squirrels, PBS Fearless Fish, and Sony Balls commercials.

This commercial is a fitting metaphor for our fourth fiscal quarter (the one we are currently in, ending March 31). We are pushing to finish the final quarter. Everyone is working hard to finish producing, selling, marketing, and shipping as much product as we can. We want to finish the year strong!

We are also in the middle of the One Company transition. This has been an enormous—but necessary—amount of work. We are re-coding our database of thousands of products, so that they flow into our newly-formed strategic publishing units (SPUs). We are also handing off projects to new editors, redesigning logos, and a thousand-and-one-other transition issues. The One Company design team has been especially working hard.

Finally, we are slogging through our annual budgeting process. We are finalizing our FY 2008 title list, forecasting sales, estimating expenses, and planning for growth. This is an iterative process that involves all of our management and analysis team.

If you put these three projects together, it’s kind of like trying to build an airplane in the sky. You want to get the job done without losing altitude. It’s challenging, to say the least.

If you work at Thomas Nelson, you know exactly what I am talking about. But even if you don’t, I bet you’ve faced times in your life when getting it all done. If so, what this commercial and have a good laugh.

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