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Let’s Fix What’s Broken

Letter from the editors.

It’s easy to let bad times bring out the worst in us. In fact, in many parts of the media in the United States, we’ve practically made it a national pastime. There’s the inevitable race to point fingers in response to an unexpected failure, such as the Enron bankruptcy. “Where were the auditors?” the press clamors. “Where was the SEC?” (We already know where the press was: writing worshipful profiles of Enron as the defining company of the 21st century.) There’s the cowardly habit of wringing our hands in despair when important goals aren’t achieved overnight. (Remember all those articles, just a few weeks into the war in Afghanistan, about how the United States was losing?)

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Fast Company has never been good at pointing fingers or wringing hands. We embrace a different attitude, in good times and bad. Our job is to stand alongside our readers, roll up our sleeves, and help get things done — whether by acting more boldly or by attending to problems, failures, and setbacks. That’s why this issue offers a special focus on The Big Fix. It’s a collection of ideas, tools, and case studies designed to help you succeed in a difficult world — a world in which lots of things need fixing. The first fix? Make sure that bad times don’t bring out the worst in you. Tim Sanders, a senior executive at Yahoo, believes that Love Is the Killer App, that the road to prosperity is paved with generosity. Once you’ve fixed yourself, you can turn your attention to your company’s brands and learn Nine Ways to Fix a Broken Brand, by master marketer Scott Bedbury, who helped create the Nike and Starbucks brandwagons.

Eden Alternative’s Bill Thomas has an even bigger challenge: His goal is to fix — no, transform — a broken industry: long-term care for the elderly. He offers (Not) the Same Old Story — and some instructive lessons for leaders who want to reinvent any business. Finally, if you’re looking for a quick collection of ideas, look to our Fast Talk roundtable on Smarter Moves for Tougher Times, which offers 20 time-tested tactics — a fix-it-yourself business tool kit for bad times.

Of course, not everything is fixable. For a bracing dose of reality, check out our profile of Novalux Inc., a onetime highflier in Silicon Valley. Is Novalux Beyond Repair? Or can its leaders return the company to prominence? As Malcolm Thompson, the company’s former CEO, says, “There is no correct answer.”

There is, however, a constructive outlook. We hope you find it in this issue.

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