You won't find the road to recovery on any map. But just because there isn't a single four-lane highway to profitability doesn't mean that you can't go looking for some early signs of (what we all hope will be) a growing recovery. Your itinerary follows.
First, go check out what's going on at Borland Software, in Scotts Valley, California. There you'll find out how Dale Fuller is bringing his once-proud, then-struggling, and now-profitable software company back in the black.
Next, consult your international atlas for a trip to Tokyo and a visit with Carlos Ghosn, the president and CEO of Nissan. Ghosn has earned the checkered flag, driving Nissan back into profitability — and into the winner's circle.
Next stop: Seattle, Washington, where Pat Gillick has rebuilt the Seattle Mariners. Over the past few years, Gillick, the Mariners' general manager, has executed a strategy of character, chemistry, and fun to hit a grand slam in Seattle.
Upon departing Seattle, you'll take a relatively short hop east to Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota, where recovery has become a way of life. Back in 1997, these cities were devastated by a monstrous flood. A visit to these cities today reveals the true face of recovery — and reminds you that tough times often bring out the best of the human spirit.
Another city on the road to recovery (although you won't find it featured in this issue) is San Diego, California, where Fast Company recently held its eighth RealTime conference. The themes: leadership, branding, work, technology, and innovation. The message: Serious innovation is the way to prepare for the recovery ahead. For example, Dick Brown, CEO of EDS, shared the tough-minded approach to culture change that he used to turn around that big, powerful organization and refocus it on its customers. Bonnie Reitz, senior VP at Continental Airlines, gave a firsthand account of the leadership and branding issues that confronted her company in the wake of September 11. RealNetworks chairman and CEO Rob Glaser reminded everyone that rumors of the death of the Web are vastly overstated — and gave a real-time demonstration of the kinds of news, sports, and music that the Web makes possible. And there was more good stuff at the gathering, including a special showing of The Journey, a delightful odyssey of a business movie.
As it turns out, "the journey" is a fitting name both for the RealTime conference and for where we all are today: on the road to recovery, eager for signposts of progress and hoping to arrive anytime now.
A version of this article appeared in the July 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine.