If it ain’t broke ... improve it anyway Featured

9:58am EDT July 22, 2002

I’m my own worst critic. I think we all are. That’s because only we know what we’re truly capable of achieving—and there’s almost always something we could be doing better.

Think about it. Could you be a better manager? Of course you could. Could you spend your money more wisely? Absolutely. Could you be more active in the community? Without a doubt. So when are you going to do something about it? That’s the real question—and by far the hardest to answer.

Our publisher, Michael Marzec, repeatedly challenges our staff to ponder these sort of questions. After all, he continually asks them of our company. Change keeps us on our toes. It forces us to grow, to evolve. It prevents us from falling into a rut; from letting our publication become too predictable; from growing stale. Without a new challenge, without change, a business will quickly stagnate. It doesn’t matter how good you think your product or service is now—or even how good your customers tell you it is. If it doesn’t improve, you’ll wind up behind.

Making changes, however, can be scary business. We fear the unknown. We fear the awkwardness that comes with trying something new. We fear failure. What we should fear, however, is complacency.

In a world where expectations continually rise and attention spans continually shrink, you’ve got to reinvent yourself every so often. You’ve got to offer something fresh; something tantalizing; something that gets people talking. You want your product to stop a frenzied executive dead in his tracks and make him say, “Wow.”

That’s what this redesigned issue of SBN is all about.

We know our readers are busy, so we’ve simplified our publication. From our extra-bold, abbreviated name on the cover to the shorter, more pointed articles inside, our goal is to make SBN easier to navigate and learn from than ever before. We’re using more bullet points and other visual aids to highlight important details. We’re expanding and moving our Managing Your Business section to the front of the publication because reader surveys have found it’s one of the most popular parts of the magazine. We’re telling you, up front, what to expect from us: smart ideas for growing companies. We’re adding more resources, more quick tips and more contact information to help you stay in touch with us—and the people we write about each month.

We’re doing all this because we want to serve you, our customers, even better. It’s that simple.

So give us a long, hard look this month. Tell me what you like. Tell me what we could still improve upon. You know I’ll listen. What about you? There’s got to be something your company could be doing better. Find it. Embrace it. Change it—now. Your customers are waiting.

No more baloney

Four months ago, I blasted Kroger for banning a Columbus boy from its in-store play areas simply because he was HIV-positive [“Now on special: baloney,” SBN, November 1998]. The company’s claim that this child posed a potential danger to others struck me as ignorant and shameful. Apparently Kroger has realized its mistake.

Roughly five weeks ago, the company modified its decision. Now HIV-positive children will be treated the same as any other child, which is how it should’ve been all along. Children who display symptoms of a contagious disease, such as the flu or chicken pox, will still be banned from play areas, as will those who play too rough, but that’s a decision I can respect. It’s not discriminatory.

In addition, Kroger took the impressive—and much needed—step of committing itself to better educating its play area workers about infectious diseases. That’s certainly a step in the right direction. After all, ignorance breeds fear. And there’s already too much needless fear surrounding HIV and AIDS.

So here’s to the Kroger officials who reconsidered their policy and sought the advice of informed medical experts in deciding what to do. I think you emerged with a reasonable solution. Thank you. I’ll be patronizing your stores again soon.

Nancy Byron, editor of SBN Columbus, can be reached by fax at 428-2649, by phone at 428-2648 or by e-mail at nbyron@sbnnet.com.