It has become something of a joke in our company management meetings as we analyze what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong for someone to say: “Good decisions only get better; bad decisions only get worse.”
None of us can remember who first made the observation. But I’m sure it has hung around for so long because it’s true.
This nugget of wisdom hasn’t done us a bit of good in making better decisions. But it sure makes us feel smart because, sure enough, once a decision is made, it gets better or it gets worse.
Which is why it gives me so much pleasure to report that creating the World Class Asset Index is a decision that continues to get better. It is especially pleasing to me because of the initial response to the project both inside and outside our company.
“Cleveland doesn’t have more than a few world class assets.”
“Who are you to say what’s world class and what isn’t?”
“This idea is about as corny as it gets.”
So I would like to share with you just a few stories of what can happen to a corny idea given fertile ground and sufficient water.
With this issue of Neoconomist, we will have profiled 24 world-class assets, a number that will surely grow to 100 before we finish. These assets represent various segments of our economy (health, education, business, retail, government, law, natural resources, nonprofits, arts and entertainment) and have 76,267 full-time employees. By including part-time employees, their employment rolls would likely top 100,000. (Cedar Point, for example, employs 5,000 students every summer.)
Although we did not create the World Class Asset Index to be an employment gauge, there is no question these companies are pulling their weight with an average of 3,300 employees.
So, three quick stories: One of our biggest concerns was that organizations might choose not to participate because they must provide yearly employment figures. However, we knew almost immediately that we had a winner when the assistant to the CEO of one of Northeast Ohio’s largest corporations called at 8 a.m. to make sure they were going to be a world-class asset.
The second story I’m not sure we are happy about, but at least it shows we may have created something worthwhile. Recently we received a call from a professor who teaches at a university located in a major city 169 miles from Cleveland. He receives Inside Business, saw the World Class Asset Index, and wanted to know what he would have to do to create one for his city.
My comment — meant to deter him from his mission — was that as far as I could remember his city didn’t have any world-class assets. This in no way seemed to dampen his enthusiasm.
The third story is my favorite. A caller wanted to ask a favor but first needed to tell the story behind the favor. She had been invited to University Hospitals — a world-class asset — along with other community leaders for a VIP tour of the hospital’s impressive $1.2 billion investment in facilities, equipment, staff, research and education.
After completing a tour of the Seidman Cancer Center, the Center for Emergency Medicine, and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, she arrived at the last stop. It was a glass-walled room on top of the main entrance building that offers a panoramic view of University Circle, the lake to the north and downtown Cleveland to the west.
She was overwhelmed, she said, not so much by the view as what she knew was nestled between those buildings and trees and streets: a world-class university, medical school, orchestra, art museum, institute of music, a second world-class hospital and more.
“Who could possibly stand in that room and not believe Cleveland has a bright future?” she said.
She decided she wanted to give as many people as possible the same experience. Her favor: Would we give her permission to use “world-class assets” as part of her new company name?
It was not ours to give, and we wished her well. A good decision only gets better.
If you think about it, the measurement of a city’s world-class assets may be the best measure of all. In a very competitive world, it is essential to be very good at what you do: to be world class. It is a goal whose reward is success. And success, as we know, is a magnet. It attracts more people who want to create their own success, which in turn makes our city and region more successful.
In the future, if cities and regions are measured by their world-class assets, and they will be, Northeast Ohio has more than its fair share. It’s a fact that should give us great optimism in the years ahead.
To see our world-class assets, and to experience them, is to believe we are world class.
See you on the tour bus.