Sharpening the Saw – How Curiosity Ensures Your Success

I’ll never forget the day, 4 or 5 years ago now, that I had too much work to do and all I kept hearing from the back of the warehouse was, bangs and clanks, and loud scraping sounds.

Just when I thought the din had settled down, I heard someone yelling, “Move that over here! YES … and get some plates!”

Curiosity took over me. Even though I had more work than I could handle, I had to go see what was going on in the back room.

As I walked down the hall from my office to the back room and rounded the corner, I could see Rudi, Bill and Josh pushing equipment together.

As Rudi was finding a plug to use, I asked him, “What’s going on?”

“Well, Bill and I noticed that the Glunz and Jensen iCTP Platewriters default settings are decent, but they should be able to be tweaked. We’re trying to figure out how to do that in a way that makes it easy to do in a couple hours.”

“Are you finding issues with the default settings?” I said.

“Sometimes.” He continued, “Some systems have quirks here and there which make it necessary to adjust the Glunz and Jensen iCTP Platewriters calibrations in order to get the best quality.”

“News to me,” I thought.

“OK,” I said, “I’ll leave you to it. Let me know what you find.” Then I went back to my work, trying to ignore all the noise that naturally happens when mad scientists are at work.

The next day right before lunch, Rudi and Bill knocked on the door to my office.

“Have a minute?” Rudi said.

“Sure, what’s up?” I replied.

“We figured it out. We now know how to get the Glunz and Jensen iCTP Platewriters to produce the highest quality output possible.”

“Really? That’s great!”

“Yeah, but we think it should be done every time – on every install.”

“Why do you say that? Don’t you think the default presets will work for everyone?” I said.

“Sure …” Rudi said, “but printers are nuts about quality, and even though ink-jet technology is new to the industry and everyone is a little unsure about it, I know these little machines can really produce great quality pieces. Here, check this
out …”

They showed me a sample magazine spread that looked as good as anything I had ever seen come from a tweaked Kodak CtP machine costing more than $100,000.

“Where did this come from?” I asked?

“From the Platewriter in the back.” Rudi said as a slight grin crossed his face.

“What?!? This is amazing!” I replied.

“I know,” said Bill, “And we can get that quality with every install if we calibrate the Platewriter to each system.”
Suddenly, I realized the impact of their discovery. Not only can this little machine produce high quality plates – it’s affordable! That means every small to medium sized newspaper should have one. Heck, every printer should have one.

Not only that, but we are the only ones who have figured out how to calibrate them to match each printers system.

Sure, it requires plate densitometers to make sure you start with a linearized plate, and color spectrophotometers to check your colors and densities on press, assuring you get the highest quality print production from your press – but it is worth it! It makes your customer happy and when they are happy, you are happy.

Everything Changes

Unfortunately, Rudi’s not with us anymore. He passed away 2 years ago, but he left us with something special: A shared spirit of curiosity. We remember his curiosity for how things work, his eagerness to find out if they can work better, and his commitment to make sure our customers get the best service money can buy – and we uphold those values every day.

Because of Rudi and Bill and their shared determination to see just what the Glunz and Jensen iCTP Platewriters could do, we have become the number one vendor for Glunz and Jensen.

The reason is, everyone has realized that we figured out how to make these machines produce the highest quality possible.

Each week we get calls from either Glunz and Jensen corporate, or concerned printers across the world who purchased a Platewriter, or Newswriter from someone else and they aren’t happy with the install. That’s when they ask us to travel there and calibrate their system for them.

When we complete the calibration, not only are they happy, we usually get gifts. Nothing fancy mind you, just a cookie basket, or a fruit basket, but it means everything to us. It’s a sign that we are doing a good job, and we are helping people. It’s fulfilling.

DEI became the best at what we do because we are willing to try, experiment, and test. We decided long ago to learn the best way to do something by testing different hypothesis, not assume we already know what’s best. We never assume.

You and I didn’t learn to walk by standing and walking perfectly the first time. We fell. If we were anything like my daughter and son when they learned to walk, we fell hundreds of times. That’s OK. It’s part of learning.

But if it weren’t for the curiosity of what was on the table, or what’s in the kitchen, or where is my toy, we likely would have given up on walking. Curiosity helps us push forward and forget about failure. There is no failure – only feedback.

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