Point of Beginning

Editor's Points: Reveling in the uncomfortable.

October 1, 2008


As the new editor of POB, I appreciate all of the information and advice I’ve received over the past few weeks from knowledgeable and well-meaning individuals in the industry. One statement in particular has stuck with me: “POB’s readers are generally very conservative; they don’t like change.”

I can empathize with this sentiment. Life is so much easier when it’s predictable, when we can maintain the status quo. I, for one, am tired of hearing the dour reports of more foreclosures, more banks on the brink of failure, more layoffs. I don’t like that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think that the situation might still get worse before it gets better, that there might be more pain on the horizon. And even aside from the economy, I’m not fond of change, particularly when it is forced on me by factors outside of my control. I prefer to set goals and follow a predetermined path to achieve that goal without detours. I like to be confident and comfortable.

Yet here is an unpleasant truth: When I am comfortable, I am also stagnant. Sure, I might learn a new skill just for fun or apply myself to a new task because I think it might benefit me personally or professionally. But when there is no real impetus for change, I tend to settle. In other words, I am not living up to my potential.

The current economic situation is uncomfortable. In many ways, it’s also unfair--so much of what is happening can be attributed to poor decisions made by others that are now affecting everyone, regardless of how well each individual has planned, saved and strategized. It’s easy to become frustrated, angry and discouraged when situations caused by someone else affect you and your business personally. It’s much harder to step back and view such situations as an opportunity, to embrace such challenges as inspiration for renewal and growth--yet that is precisely what we must do if we are to succeed.

Technology is changing at a rapid pace. New tools are being developed to mine and assimilate data and improve how data are compiled and used. Property owners and developers in the public and private sector are continually seeking ways to reduce their costs and streamline their operations. It’s no longer good enough simply to provide a service; firms now must prove that they’re able to provide those services faster, cheaper and better than other firms competing for the same business. Companies that are positioned to leverage the advanced capabilities of GIS, GPS and other modern tools to improve the value they can offer to clients while reducing costs will have the best chance of emerging from this period of economic turmoil. All politics aside, change is no longer optional; it is required.

That’s not to say that experience and conventional methods no longer have a place--they absolutely do. But firms on the cutting edge constantly seek ways to integrate new processes and technologies to enhance their services. They’re going beyond simply providing products to become a vital and valuable part of the projects in which they are involved. They are embracing change and profiting from it.

In this issue, we highlight some of these firms along with collaborative educational efforts that are preparing the next generation of geospatial professionals to pick up the torch. We want to cover additional success stories in future issues. If your firm has a story to tell, I encourage you to e-mail me at pobeditor@bnpmedia.

We will also launch our fifth annual Highlights in Surveying contest at the end of this month to recognize successful surveyors who have been involved in noteworthy projects. This contest is an opportunity not only to gain public recognition for your work (an increasingly valuable marketing tool in today’s business environment) but also to inspire others in the industry. This year’s contest will feature a new online entry form at his.pobonline.com to make it even easier for you to participate. Stay tuned to POB’s eNews and Web site to find out when the entry form will go live.

Change is uncomfortable, but it is also inevitable. May we always seek to learn and profit from it, and thereby continue to grow both personally and professionally.



To contact the editor, send an e-mail to pobeditor@bnpmedia.