Philie Group Blog

Broken Systems Can Provide a Pathway to Change
By Mike Philie

While many print businesses are posting great results for the year, there are others that haven’t fared as well. Why? Could be several things. Might be that their customer base has not rebounded since the pandemic. Their customer graphics – the geo, demo, and psychographics of their customer based has dealt them a troubled hand. Could also be that they lost key staff members to retirement, downsizing, or other reasons. Nonetheless, they are no longer on the team. I could go on with different scenarios, but I think there is one reason I see the most. Those with systems, processes, and procedures that were designed for a time that once was, no longer support the competitive advantage the company once had.

As businesspeople, we are all proud of our accomplishments. Sometimes a bit too proud and we let our egos get in the way of making the right decisions. A question that comes up often in my conversations with CEOs is, “If your system is broken or no longer relevant, why are you protecting it?” Reflecting on this and deciding absent of emotion can open the door to a pathway of positive change for the business.

Change does not come easy for most of us. Revamping a process involves changing habits that have been honed in over time. In addition, it may also require upgrades to technology that involve cash outlays that may or may not be available now. Change also involves risk. Risk if you try it and it fails, and risk if you don’t try it, fail further behind, and your good people begin leaving.

Take a hard look at the systems in your business. Start with the type of customers are you trying to attract and the effectiveness of that process. Move on to how you process the work and the customer experience they enjoy along the way. Continue throughout the manufacturing process, all the way to the timeliness and accuracy of sending out invoices and getting paid. For example, do you have a cadre of CSRs creating job tickets, printing out a host of paper-based forms and sneaker-netting everything throughout the plant, or have you taken advantage of the technology that you probably already own and moved to an electronic job ticket? The pushback from the leadership team is always, “but you don’t understand, we are different.” Yes, I do understand, and you are not as different as you think.

Look, changing the way that you do things is a big deal, I get it. If an objective analysis tells you that the way that you do things is no longer as efficient, or relevant as it once was, you have a choice to make. It’s always about a choice. You can elect to stay the course and hope things get better–by the way, hope is not a strategy. Others may wait to change when they are absolutely forced to change. Or you can change directions intentionally, on your own terms, to a manner that restores the competitive market advantage you once enjoyed. It’s all about choices, in life and in business.

If you have questions or additional insight into this topic, please comment below or reach out to me directly.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at, LinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions.


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