Ronald Reagan

The Sum of All Fears and Manufactured Housing

“The Sum of All Fears” is a 2002 movie based on a Tom Clancy political/action/thriller novel that used the same title.  In the movie, a neo-Nazi group plots to get Russia and the United States to destroy each other.  This was to be done by the hidden swastika-brandishing group staging a spectacular incident, and making it look like one nation planned to attack and destroy the other.  Without giving away the story for those who may not have seen it, the two powers have to learn to trust each other – during intense conditions – just enough to avoid disaster, and defeat the real and somewhat hidden enemy who hatched the plot.

Movies and books can often have ‘morals’ or lessons they can teach us.  Beyond the action, the movie suggests that sometimes rivals have good reasons – or life-and-death motivations – to set aside their differences, and strive to trust each other enough to get a critical job done.

From time to time, the word or wish goes out that the Manufactured Housing Industry needs to speak with ‘one voice.’  Without denying the inherent value and potential power of unity, there must also be a realistic approach to the dynamics of competing groups and voices. Competing viewpoints arise for specific reasons.  History, personalities and unique interests can entrench positions.

But those sorts of realities do not mean that the professional rivals are unable to cooperate when conditions warrant it.

During a critical phase of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan popularized the phrase, “Trust, but verify.”  Professional negotiators or mediators learn the art of finding the areas of mutual interest, and crafting agreements that yield benefits to the various parties that still respect their key interests.  This is precisely what needs to happen in the Manufactured Housing Industry today.

This message should not be viewed as some sort of veiled reference to parties active in Washington DC, because this scenario is likely as close as your own business and market area.  This potentially valuable lesson of working with people or parties – even those whom we may have doubts or real concerns – is an important one for our Industry at this time.

Mutual victories are possible. Industry progress can be achieved.  But this is best accomplished when a healthy respect for the other’s capabilities and interests are in place.

When we doubt – or worse, decry or demean – a potential resource, who or what can be an ally (even if for only a short term) can be lost.  The costs for failing to bridge the gap for a business, group or Industry can be high.  The win-lose mentality can, in fact, lead to a loss for all concerned.

Every need a professional, company or an MH Industry segment has today can be met.  Not someday, but almost immediately. How is it done?

Mutual respect.  Sincere understanding.

Listening with keen attention to not just your own goals, but the interests and needs of other stakeholders.

Learning to work together with people or groups that we may not be used to (or want to?!) work with, and yet do so with the goal of mutual rewards.

Think about these facts:

– American incomes are down.
– U.S. households continue to form.
– We sell quality, affordable homes.
– Manufactured home communities have vacancies.
– Retailers want more sales.
– Homeowners need economic security in a home they can enjoy and the ability to sell when needed or desired.
– Manufacturers and suppliers want orders and business.
– Government officials and associations need to find ways to serve the public and business.
– Lenders and investors desire security and a reasonable return on their investment.
– Professionals and companies need each other and should respect and build up each other.

This sketch above is not a plan, but an outline that may point the way to business growth and mutual success.

Consider “The Sum of All Fears” and its lesson as a metaphor for the Manufactured Housing Industry, its professionals and businesses.  What do YOU need?  Who or what can help you or your interest group?  Who or what can you reach out to help?

Learn to work with others who may seem like rivals, but who offer you something that you need!  By respectfully working towards sincere mutual victories, the results can be professional, business and Industry success. ##

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