Embracing Change – Opportunity In Uncertain Times

hat’s the difference between the chicken and the egg? The chicken is a lot more work to
eat — feathers and such — but offers a lot more opportunity for a good meal.

Which came first? It really doesn’t matter, although first-mover advantage is a great thing
to have. But, how much risk the chicken faced crossing the road is a pretty big deal, and stops
many from choosing the chicken. So, whether you pick the chicken or the egg, you face some pretty
tough decisions.

This is a simplistic way to think about opportunities and rewards, market choices and risk.
However, meeting change head-on, making tough choices and assuming risk seems to be the only
constant among today’s most successful businesses.

Risk aversion is part of human nature. There is comfort in knowing your surroundings, knowing
what is safe, and knowing what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, businesses today trying to
play by yesterday’s rules are in a difficult position.

All is not lost — many companies have developed ways to cope with today’s environment, and
the most successful have figured out their identity is tied to serving their customers.

Shifting to a focus on what customers want instead of on what a company is comfortable making
is a good first step toward adapting to today’s marketplace. Second, fostering an accountable
entrepreneurial environment seems to be a must. Third, investing in the pursuit of markets,
wherever they are, is a strategy full of uncertainty, but often presents the opportunities with the
highest rewards. And, finally, marketing, marketing, marketing — it builds brands, protects all the
effort that has gone before and leads to new opportunities.

US textiles is facing these same challenges, and

Textile World
has been lucky to speak with companies that are truly embracing the uncertainty of change.
There is no doubt it is leaving many confused. What companies do, who supplies what, what the
company’s core focus is — all are changing rapidly. This is a situation that benefits from
communication and openness. It is important to get involved, get connected and be open to

As preparation begins for the 2005

Textile World
Innovation Award,

editors are working with one of the industry’s best, and what shines through is that realism
trumps pessimism. Action trumps inaction, and a new sense of the marketplace — brought on by real
marketing efforts — are creating opportunities in the face of change.

The United States has some of the most innovative textile companies across industry sectors.
Meeting change head-on, making tough choices and embracing risk demands marketing in a global
environment that isn’t easy to understand. But marketing is necessary, not just to survive, but
also to succeed. Maybe it is time to think about choosing the chicken.

March 2005