Visionary Ford Motors Executive Praises Paper

For Ford VP, Progress Begins on Paper

It may seem like a recurring theme around here, but my brother Bill passed along another strong piece of evidence to me that even in this e-obsessed world, paper is more important than ever. And it’s time for those who have pronounced it passé to again take stock.

Bill sent me an article in Fast Company about Ken Washington, VP of Research and Advanced Engineering for Ford Motor Company. He literally was a rocket scientist at Lockheed Martin, and has a doctorate in nuclear engineering. Washington is currently working on high-tech experimental concepts for Ford, including autonomous cars and unique innovations that will enhance the automobile experience, including new capabilities, green technologies, and other advances that will make driving more fun.

Washington acknowledges that email is very important in his workday. He has created his own email management strategy that color-codes messages from certain contacts so that he won’t miss them in what he calls “the massive digital pile.” That in itself demonstrates one big drawback of electronic communication, if your email doesn’t earn the “color” treatment, who knows when, or if, it will ever bubble to the top?

But back to Washington. Even though he values email, he waxes almost poetic about his “second” tool…paper. I can’t put it better than he did himself, “There’s no substitute for it. You don’t need a Wi-Fi hot spot to get it to work. It never runs out of batteries.”

First Because It Lasts

Naturally, those comments register with me. I’ve always said that, while electronic communication and “virtual” documents have certainly earned an important place in today’s world, there is a substance and reality to paper that makes it difficult to replace.  Paper collateral and direct mail can cut through the clutter, and hang around on a desk long after an unnoticed or unread email has been deleted to its electronic graveyard.

We can help you figure out what parts of your marketing or your regular working forms and materials are most efficiently handled on good old paper…and not because it’s best for us, but because it’s best for your business. Give me a call! And remember, next time somebody tells you that paper is on its way out, feel free to let him or her know the real story: that paper matters more than ever. And that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that, though apparently it doesn’t hurt.

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