Blogs

Leadership for Mission and Team Success

I recently attended my first meeting of the Corporate Advisory Board of the Masters of Engineering Management (MEM) program at Case Western Reserve University. The MEM program takes engineering students from around the world and furthers their skills and knowledgebase, enabling them to be better equipped to accelerate the value of their engineering background into the business environment.

Celebrating 100 Years of the Austin "Pretzel" Logo

I once had a marketing consultant I respected greatly tell me “the brand specifics really don’t matter that much; you can make your name and logo whatever you want and then build a story and a reputation behind it.” He followed this by providing several examples of solid brands with little thought behind their original logo, or who’s operations today bare little relation to their original purpose or branding.

Creating an Environment for Success

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get back into the habit of reading books. For some reason, I got distracted from this important habit and reduced my consumption of printed materials to magazines, newsfeeds and the like. Personally, it was a unique sports year for me. As a Chicago native living in Cleveland for almost twenty years, I was treated to the Cavs World Championship and the Cubs versus Indians World Series. My Bleacher Report app saw a lot of action this year!

I missed reading books though. The depth and context you can only get into when reading a book is more thought-provoking than a 5000-word magazine article. Considering this, a book I recently finished and strongly recommend is General Stanley McChrystal’s, Team of Teams. The baseline for the book is McChrystal’s success at turning the military’s top-down chain of command protocol upside-down.

Building Better Habits: Creating New Year’s Resolutions with Focus

We are all creatures of habit. Intentionally or not, we tend to get into habits. Sometimes they are good, sometimes not. And, we look at certain milestones to assess what bad habits we need to get rid of, and what good ones to start. For example, the birth of a child convinces one to stop smoking. A relocation prompts one to get out and explore the area instead of being sedentary in a comfortable environment.  And, of course, fitness centers get crowded in January as the end of the Holiday season signals a time to exercise and lose weight.

No one purposefully gets into a bad habit with the intention of getting into a bad habit. It just happens. And breaking those habits requires energy. Whether the physical energy of exercise, or the mental and psychological energy of the discipline it takes to eat right, devote time to pray, or read.

Making Service Your Trademark

“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see it, they will want to come back to see you do it again, and they will want to bring others to show them how well you do what you do.”  --  Walt Disney

I saw this quote in a stairwell while at a meeting with Disney in Orlando and was struck by its clarity, its simplicity and the passion it implies. I have thought a lot about this quote since my visit to Disney. On the surface, it is clear how it applies to Disney’s theme parks and anyone who has visited or studied Disney can understand and appreciate the message it implies to any “cast member.” 

But how does this apply to a manufacturer, a contractor or an engineer?

Leading the Way with Agility

I belong to a peer group of executives hosted by Vistage. At a recent meeting, the speaker was Mike Richardson, a very accomplished executive who is now consulting companies on being more agile. To him, corporate agility is all about planning for future growth, while always keeping an eye out for potential disasters that lurk around the corner. Two take-aways from the talk resonated with me.

First, ... "The task of imagination is to do the work of crisis without the crisis." (Roberto Unger). Think about the implications of this as we near the end of a calendar, and maybe fiscal, year. For all the plans and perspectives we go through in thinking about the future, do we consider the downside and the potential for a crisis? Fundamental to this consideration is an open and searching dialog amongst a management team. 

Austin’s Aerospace History Enters Its Second Century

Wrapping up our series of milestone projects from Austin's 100 years of serving the aviation, aerospace and defense industry and looking to the future ...

When the Wright Brothers took off at Kitty Hawk in 1904, The Austin Company had already been designing and building industrial projects for more than a quarter century.

Twelve years later, manned flight was becoming a commercial reality and Austin was called upon to deliver its first aircraft assembly plant, a project for Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company.  Since first serving the industry in 1916, Austin has partnered with aircraft manufacturing companies including Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and others, to build  some of the world’s finest, and largest, production facilities. 

Fast-Track to Excellence

Continuing our series of milestone projects from Austin's 100 years of serving the aviation, aerospace and defense industry ...

Over the past 100 years, The Austin Company has accomplished remarkable feats in the design, engineering and construction of aviation and aerospace manufacturing facilities. Since the early 1900’s, aircraft and aerospace manufacturers have relied on Austin’s architects, engineers and constructors to successfully complete tremendously challenging assignments.

Pick Up the Phone or Take a Walk

By Brandon Davis, General Manager and Vice President Operations, Cleveland

The proliferation of email and other means of mass communication have certainly added many good things to our workplace and culture; however, one thing it has not done is strengthen relationships in the workplace. I am sure you have been guilty at times – I know I have been. Sometimes it seems so much easier to write a quick email rather than pick up the phone and talk to someone, or perhaps it is late at night and you want to send an email now before you forget (since it is fresh on your mind). Whatever the logic, and trust me – I have used them all – please stop and consider for a moment whether that message should be delivered over email.

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