business news in context, analysis with attitude

This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

It is metaphor time here on MNB … and as longtime MNB readers know, I love a metaphor. (It was the great Robert B. Parker who once said, “Life is mostly metaphor.” I agree.)

The metaphor that I am using this week is the just-opened Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which traverses the Hudson River north of New York City, connecting Westchester County to Rockland County. The Cuomo Bridge has replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge, has taken more than four years to construct, and cost in the neighborhood of $4 billion.

To be honest, it is a beautiful bridge … and a huge improvement over the Tappan Zee, which was built in the fifties and for years has been handling more than 130,000 cars a day - far more than the number for which it originally was designed.

I know a little something about this - because I used to do a round-trip on this bridge virtually every day. In 1978, I was living in Westchester County, and I got a job with the Rockland Journal News as a newspaper reporter - my first real job out of school. (Trivia: At the same time I was working for the Journal-News, Michael Sansolo was working for the Reporter Dispatch in Westchester County …. he in fact lived in the same town I did, and had gone to high school with Mrs. Content Guy, but we didn’t meet until years later.)

Every workday for two years, I drove across the Tappan Zee, often in an aging Triumph Spitfire that actually was in worse shape than the bridge. But there’s something I remember vividly from that time - the fact that we were writing stories for the Journal-News about how the bridge was in terrible shape and that government was dithering about a replacement or improvements.

The fact is, New York State didn’t really do anything until other bridges around the country started collapsing, and the state of the nation’s infrastructure became a political issue. But if they’d done something about the Tappan Zee then, instead of waiting more than 30 years, it is a pretty good bet that it would’ve cost less.

That’s a great metaphor for business. How many times do businesses know they’ve got a potential or actual problem, but don’t do anything about it until forced to by circumstances? Often, I would submit.

In our first Innovation Conversation podcast, Boxed CMO Jackson Jeyanayagam talked about his experience as head of digital marketing at Chipotle, and said that they knew they had a potential food safety problem even before disaster struck … but that they were in a cycle of growth and profit and that it was hard to stop that particular merry-go-round to do repairs because it was moving so fast.

But if they had, maybe Chipotle wouldn’t be a turnaround company today.

When you have a problem, it is better to deal with it now rather than waiting.

(Go figure … we have a chapter about this in our book “The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.” The movie is The Wedding Singer … and the book is available on Amazon. End of shameless self-promotion.)

That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: