When Less is Not More
Perhaps one of the most remarkable learning events occurs when one takes a step into an industry or trade that he or she was previously unfamiliar with. Due to the fact that our environments are already extremely complex, as a survival mechanism, we are forced to simplify our thoughts about the things that we do not know. For example, take a walk down a supermarket isle and fathom, if only for a moment, the intricate supply chain that exists for each and every product. Now imagine all the employees involved, not only at the store, but at every level of each supply chain. We begin to realize that we are in fact only familiar with the immediate environment in which we exist. For example, one may have spent his entire lifetime learning everything about the insurance industry to complement his position as an insurance agent. Now imagine how many lifetimes if would take to achieve that level of expertise in multiple arenas. Luckily, there are resources available, both to the individuals inside a given industry, and to the individuals outside of the industry.
The flooring industry is not an exception to this rule. Many times the best sources of information are trade organizations or regulatory bodies. These two sources serve completely different purposes, and to achieve an unbiased opinion, it is important to consult both. For example, trade organizations are going to be more likely to report on information that suits the interests of the immediate industry. This may include failing to report certain data such as slowing sales, or it may include failing to highlight corruption within the industry. On the other hand, trade organizations can be very useful for tracking trends and becoming aware of any new products that are still in the research and development phase. As previously stated, it is equally important to consult additional organizations that exist to protect either the consumer, the immediate community, the industry workers or the environment. In years past, consideration was only loosely given to the environment; however, the heightened awareness about recycling, pollution, air quality, water quality, and most recently, global warming, has placed the environmental implications of our actions in the forefront of many minds. Across America there exists many unknown groups just bursting with useful information that when consulted are invaluable.
One such organization is the Resilient Flooring Covering Institute, which is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. They are most markedly known for suing New York State concerning the labeling of vinyl flooring as a green product. The Institute lists four primary reasons or purposes for their existence. The first, and most logical, basis for their presence is to promote their product. For this reason alone, one must be acutely aware of their interests, and with that, be thorough in evaluating the accuracy or bias of their information. Their second stated purpose is to monitor any changes in laws or regulations that might affect the industry. This is of course a necessary action, as our government only functions properly when all parties are given proper consideration. For example, it would be too time consuming and inefficient for each and every industry worker to follow the legal trail independently. The third stated purpose is to maintain a level of quality within the industry. This is, in fact, beneficial for both industry personnel, as well as for consumers. It is important for the industry to establish a sense of continuity, as this prevents the phenomenon of one bad apple ruining the bunch. This in turn reduces the likelihood that a consumer will receive inferior products or inferior installation. The forth and final stated purpose of the Institute is to be a source of technical and data related information. This is perhaps the most important function that they serve for both consumers and members of the industry. Given that flooring companies exist in probably every state, it would otherwise be impossible to stay informed as to what is occurring in states outside of your own. Organizations such as the Institute can serve as valuable hubs of information consolidation and networking resources.
This is just one example, as there are countless other organizations serving the industry. Also, government regulators such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are actively doing their part as well. Looking to all of these groups for information is the optimal manner to staying informed. Furthermore, it is also important to seek information from sources outside of the industry. This will include looking to Wall Street to shed light on the health of the economy, which allows one to theorize about the future buying potential of consumers. For example, Wall Street can indicate that with energy costs as they are, consumers have less funds available for discretionary spending. It is also helpful to monitor the political climate around the globe, as access to raw resources can often be interrupted by political unrest in the country of origin. Looking inside all the dark information nooks and crannies is always a good thing, even when you end up learning more than you bargained for.
There is an emerging psychological theory that less is more. This may be true in many aspects of our lives, yet in terms of access to news and information, this does not hold true. With every additional resource consulted comes more accuracy and a more thorough understanding of the topic being examined.