Online In-plant 'Conference' Off to a Great Start
This week, the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) has been holding a series of webinars to present in-plants with some of the information and advice intended for sessions at its conference, which was canceled due to COVID-19. Attendance has been high at all webinars so far, IPMA reports.
The series kicked off on Monday with a keynote by Trish Holliday, founding partner of Holliday|Kenning Inc., in which she introduced the term “intrapreneurship,” meaning a system that allows an employee to act like an entrepreneur inside an organization. For this to happen, managers must create a culture where people aren’t afraid to offer ideas, try something new, and even make mistakes. This doesn’t mean employees can go rogue, however; they must act as part of a team, she stressed.
In an innovative culture, Holliday said, when the unexpected happens, leaders should consider how they can use the situation to come up with something new. When things seem out of place in your operation, that’s an opportunity to think innovatively, she said. Ask your team to look closely at the processes they follow and think about how they can be improved, she suggested. Despite the horrors of COVID-19, the pandemic is giving us an opportunity to change things, she pointed out.
“We have a chance to take the things we didn’t like before and do something different with them,” she said.
Holliday returned for a second webinar Tuesday to tell managers how they can develop better resiliency to trauma and change, a handy skill in this pandemic world. Build your connections, she said. We need others to support us. Also, foster wellness by helping your team feel a sense of well being. Don’t let them stay trapped in the way things used to be and dwell on the negatives. Help them see they can get through the worst of times. Make them understand they are still important and add value, she said.
Resilient people have a strong sense of control, Holliday said, as well as problem-solving skills, and strong social networks. They identify as survivors, not victims, she said. And they are not afraid to ask for help when they can’t solve a problem.
“The whole world is going to lockers,” declared Don McCarty at the beginning of his webinar on smart lockers and how they have revolutionized mail and package distribution at East Tennessee State University. With parcel volume climbing and space at a premium on campus, he installed three banks of 180 smart lockers and has enjoyed many benefits. Customers have 24/7 access to lockers, which they love. In fact, 32% pick up their packages after hours, he said.
Students get email alerts when they receive packages, and once they claim them and those lockers are empty, they are refilled with new packages. In that way, a wall of 180 lockers can distribute 700 packages per day. During COVID-19, smart lockers provide a safe, contact-free way to distribute not only mail and packages but bookstore deliveries, transcripts, tickets, small print jobs, and other items that need to be delivered, McCarty said.
Panel of In-plant Managers
In another webinar, Joe Morgan, founder of siY, assembled a panel of six in-plant managers from across the country for a discussion of their experiences during COVID-19 and lessons they have learned. On the panel were John Cruser of Bloomberg, Martin James of Deer Valley Unified School District, Laura Lockett of Sacramento State, Lisa Stelter of Sanford Health, Jimmy Vainstein of the World Bank Group, and Tammy Golden of the State of Tennessee.
Some of the managers have been working from home since mid-March, their in-plants closed; others have been busier than ever. They talked about the importance of staying connected with staff during the pandemic and letting those who are isolated at home know they are still part of the team. Morning meetings are still crucial, they said, even if they are done virtually. Some are using this downtime for staff training, process improvement, and adding new products to their Web-to-print system.
COVID-19 has changed all of their operations. James said the demand for social distancing signage has moved his shop’s wide-format operation to the forefront. Stelter said her operation has printed 3,300 floor markers and is printing washable signage using synthetic stock, all part of her effort to “be indispensable.”
Golden noted that her mail operation’s new method of touchless mail delivery (loading it into customers’ trunks) is making her rethink how mail will be delivered in the future; already the operation is scanning some mail for customers. Cruser observed that the increase in online shopping during COVID-19 has impacted shipping and brought delays, a development sure to impact his in-plant’s ability to ship on a timely basis.
Vainstein joked that in-plants should band together to ban paper proofing to eliminate the spread of infection. He has been investigating digital proofing tools to offer another option. Locket said she is considering continuing to hold Zoom video meetings with staff even when they are back in the office to maintain social distancing.
It was a lively 90-minute chat full of ideas and observations, but most of all it was the first chance many in-plants have had during the pandemic to see and hear from their fellow managers. It wasn’t an IPMA conference, but in an era of social distancing, it may have been the next best thing.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.