Your organization looks — and acts — much different today than it did yesterday Featured

11:59am EDT March 14, 2013
Dustin S. Klein, Publisher and Vice President of Operations, SBN Interactive Dustin S. Klein, Publisher and Vice President of Operations, SBN Interactive

When bluesman Eddie Boyd wrote “Five Long Years” in 1952, he was spinning the tale of misery about a factory worker. The fellow had spent five years slaving away at a factory and giving his hard-earned paycheck to his girlfriend every Friday. And then, she dumped him. Left with nothing to show for his efforts but an empty wallet, Boyd’s protagonist wails, “If you’ve ever been mistreated, you know just what I’m talking about.”

If your organization survived the turmoil that was the Great Recession of 2008, five years doesn’t seem that long ago in the past, does it? But the lasting effects of all that happened that miserable year — and how it’s changed how we look at nearly everything today — deserve repetition of Boyd’s famous phrase, “You know what I’m talking about.”

Sixty-odd months ago were dark times for everyone — not just those of us in business — and we all felt a bit mistreated. The U.S. economy was in a severe tailspin, the stock market was bleeding, and the housing market was crumbling. Companies and people everywhere were hurting — badly. From coast to coast, manufacturers were reeling, jobs were disappearing at a pace few had seen in their lifetimes, and the financial sector — the foundation of the economy — was in ruins.

Think about what your organization looked like five years ago and what you were going through as the first quarter of 2008 was coming to a close. Were you concerned your organization wasn’t going to survive into 2009?

Now fast-forward to today: It sure seems a heck of a lot better, doesn’t it? And it would be a safe bet to say that your organization doesn’t look anything like the one you presided over in 2008.

Admittedly, business is tougher than it was pre-recession. Never mind that the Dow recently experienced its greatest win streak since 1996 and reached record levels; there remains a lingering trepidation among many of us because things feel, well, somewhat different.

That’s because everything has undergone a significant transformation — nothing looks or feels the same as it did in 2008. And it’s not just because of technological advancements, though the speed at which that continues to evolve is frightening.

The month of April welcomes spring (well, the equinox really happened March 20), and as the season of transformation, we invite you to join Smart Business to celebrate three transformational events.

First, join us April 10 for our annual Perspectives: Women Who Excel conference, where we’ll present an insightful round table focused on “Breaking Through Barriers” and the changing face of women executives in today’s workplace.

Next, we invite you to take our annual SBN/ERC Workplace Practices Survey, which, each year, takes the pulse of HR issues across Northeast Ohio companies. We’ve been tracking changes in workplace practices for more than a decade with our partners over at ERC, and we expect to see even more transformation this year.

And finally, nominate yourself or a company you know that has undergone significant transformation for an award at our 15th annual Innovation in Business Awards. This year’s conference will be held in September, and beyond recognizing organizations for their ability to transform and reposition themselves to compete in a global economy, we’ll present a discussion on the challenges of change and hear from business leaders who have faced the music.

In the end, Boyd’s song spoke of misery. But in reality, singing about suffering is cathartic. Airing out the problems of the past is cleansing, especially when you clear the way for a brighter future.

Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations of SBN Interactive, publishers of Smart Business magazine. Reach him at or (440) 250-7026.