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Glass Half Full 

I saw a great set of wine glasses advertised the other day: they had a white band at the middle, and above the line appeared the word “ottimista;” below it, “pessimista.” I don’t think I have to translate from Italian for you to know that they were designed to do double-duty for those who were either glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of people. (Of course, the ad noted that you could easily change your mood just by using the glasses for their intended purpose!)

I’ve always believed that we choose to be expectant and positive, or unenthusiastic and downbeat about life in general and business in particular. But true to the hardy nature of our industry, I’m seeing lots of you with glasses tending toward “ottimista.”

There’s a welcome breeze blowing through many of our companies. Numbers are up. Not a lot, mind you, but enough that it has plopped a good business problem in a few laps: there’s a sufficient increase to strain capacity and to raise the question of increasing staff to meet demand.

That’s not unlike what’s happening in other parts of the universe. At least 5 million jobs were slashed in the recession, and economists say the slow build back up to meet demand is making broader economic recovery and job growth more distant. Increases in demand for product has manufacturers struggling to keep up, and bottlenecks in the supply chain are more and more evident. But the good news wrapped in the not-so-good news is that there are signs all around us of upward movement, more consumerism, and more transactions.

Office closings and reductions in staff and resources to cut costs always make it harder to pull off a quick ramp-up to meet customers’ healthier appetites. And even with additional business on the horizon, the fear of a “mock uptick” breeds hesitation to hire workers and invest in equipment, office space, or other resources.

So, once again, we need to be both strategists and psychics. If we’re very clever, our timing will hit the sweet spot between running lean and a little larger, so that we put the right amount of resources in place – and the right people – to meet the new and much anticipated activity that we have been hoping for. And if we’re off by a few degrees… well, we’ll figure that out if we need to. After all, we’re glass-half-full people.

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