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Questions to Consider for 2021

Doug Kurkul

As champagne corks pop for New Year’s toasts in a few weeks, wishes for a safer, healthier and less chaotic year in 2021 will be a common theme. How different 2020 has been than any of us anticipated. With the new year­—and new opportunities—approaching, foundry leaders are considering a variety of questions, several of which are explored here.

Which of the changes experienced in 2020 are likely to be permanent? 

doug kurkulThink of the unanticipated changes you have experienced this year. Some of this year’s business challenges will likely recede, as demand for castings continues to rebound and as Covid-19 becomes less of a public-health threat. Yet, foundry leaders might consider making a list of the biggest changes their company experienced this year—a list of even six or eight changes could be helpful—and thoughtfully consider the extent to which some changes will have longer-lasting implications. These changes might be in relation to your customers, your employees, your facility or the technology you use. Most likely, your company already has a jump on adapting to longer-lasting changes. Where not, it is time to address those long-term vicissitudes. 

How will the election results affect the markets you serve?

Beyond the vitriol and bluster that accompanied this year’s political campaigns, there were starkly different visions presented for the U.S. economy. Voters were still casting their early-voting ballots as this column was written, but hopefully the races have been settled by the time you read this edition of Modern Casting.

Depending on the markets your company serves, you will want to consider the election’s impact. How will public policies evolve on defense spending, investment in transportation and water infrastructure, exploration and development of oil and natural gas, the pace of transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, trade policies and enforcement, the prospect of increased environmental regulation, and possible changes in labor laws, to name a few. (AFS assists

Corporate Members in anticipating and navigating legislative and regulatory changes. If your company is not yet a Corporate Member, we encourage you to contact us and join today.) 

What are your company’s unwritten rules?

Changing gears from the external environment to an internal examination, this question draws on an article by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review. Unwritten rules within companies, plants, or teams are not uncommon. As long-term employees retire or move on, and new team members take their place, how quickly and effectively will the newcomers learn these unwritten rules, which might be essential to their early success? HR directors, plant managers and team leaders would do well to identify unwritten rules, write them down, engage in discussions, and consider whether they should become formal policies, part of new-employee orientations, or perhaps even be modified. 

What other business questions are you considering as 2021 approaches that Modern Casting might wish to examine? Let us know your thoughts at swetzel@afsinc.org.