The two girls, three and six years old, were peacefully observing
the freeway traffic and the California landscape gliding past from
the back seat of their parents' minivan on a typically-sunny Saturday
morning. Their parents had decided to take a drive to explore a
new area about fifty miles from their present home in the east bay.
It was beginning to look more and more like there might by an interesting
new career opportunity developing there. A new display start-up
with a rather strange name, but with lots of investor money, had
made Richard an offer that he just might not be able to turn down.
And it was beginning to look like his wife Emily could also advance
her career by a move to this new location.
As they drove, their conversation touched on a number of topics,
one of them being why it was necessary to change homes and lifestyles
every time a new job came along. What a disruption it was to have
to sell their existing home, find and buy a new one, move all of
their possessions, and find new doctors, dentists, and all those
other services that we take for granted once located. Richard suggested
that maybe one day, after he was better established in his career,
they would try to create a business that was location-independent.
That way they could find a home location they liked because it matched
their desired lifestyle and not because it was near their places
of current employment. He wondered if the continued development
of the Internet and of electronic communications would help him
They were only slightly more than half way into their drive when
Danielle, the oldest girl, began to ask, "Are we there yet?"
Alexandra, the youngest, didn't say much yet but Emily could see
that she was beginning to squirm in her car seat as a clear indication
that this ride had better have a quick conclusion. As Mom and Dad
explained that they would be there in about twenty minutes, the
question "Are we there yet?" became more frequently heard
and with growing frustration. After all, five minutes can seem like
an eternity to a three-year-old stuck in a car seat -- just about
the same as that last half-hour in an economy airplane seat on a
flight from Hong-Kong to Chicago, shall we say.
For Danielle and Alexandra, "THERE" was any near-immediate
stopping point that would at least temporarily end the confinement
of their car seats. And the sooner the better! If this next destination
also involved the offering of food, that would be a major positive.
"Daddy, I'm getting hungry." "Mommy I think I'm going
to need to go to the bathroom." And finally from the littler
one, a robust scream that could no longer be contained or ignored.
For the parents, with their plans of significant career changes
and the relocation of their home, this question of "Are we
there yet?" had a very different context. Perhaps they would
feel more comfortable where "there" was after they made
their decision whether to accept this new opportunity or not. But
then there would still be the even longer-term plans that Richard
and Emily were beginning to contemplate for careers that would allow
them to pick whatever location they wished while still earning a
good income doing what they most enjoyed.
Clearly some "Are we there yet?" situations are more
easily identified than others. If I need to be in Washington DC
tomorrow for a business meeting, then it's fairly easy to establish
if I have accomplished that. On the other hand, many of our lives
activities have outcomes that are more difficult to measure. When
have we achieved "success?" Is our career progressing
the way we would like? "Are we having fun yet?" As I think
back over some of the high and low points of my still-developing
career, I see much of that history very differently than I did at
the time I experienced it. Now it seems that all those "learning
experiences" -- some of which I most certainly did not enjoy
-- have had a beneficial effect. Life's journey turns out to be
more of a continuum, a blending and overlapping of a multitude of
activities, than a pre-defined destination. There are certain times
when changes and learning experiences are more intense and focused
than others. In between, we get to rebuild our energies and enthusiasm
-- perhaps to coast a bit if we so choose.
For companies and organizations such as SID, the process is similar.
In the journey of growing a new company, it is appropriate to ask,
"Are we there yet?" And just as appropriately, the answer
often is, "That depends." It depends on what you want
the next objectives to be and what the various participants think
is possible. I have been in several situations where investors had
expectations of the next "destination" that were, at least
from my experience base, unrealistic. Yet, since each was a new
situation with new technologies or new products, there was no ready
comparison for me to use to conclusively prove that. The typical
behavior in these situations is that investors will force a series
of management changes until it becomes clear that no one can accomplish
the wished-for results. The most clever players in this game are
those executives who can anticipate the investors' "learning
curve" and who take on the top position(s) at the time when
the investors are finally willing to accept reality. (So far, I
have not been very good at this game, but at least I now understand
some of the rules.)
What about the Society for Information Display? Are we there yet?
By most measures we certainly seem to be doing well. But can we
do better? Fortunately, we do not have to contend with investors
who have unrealistic expectations. But we also have to appreciate
that the world is a competitive place and that challenges are being
offered up to us on a regular basis.
In the last year the membership has increased from the 4,826 total
reported by Tony Lowe at last year's annual business meeting to
6,409 -- a healthy thirty percent increase. This year's SID Symposium
and Exhibition were held June 3 - 8 in San Jose. The technical conference
consisted of 299 peer-reviewed technical papers and the exhibition
had 523 exhibitor booths as compared to 432 last year. The attendance
at the technical sessions increased from about 1,700 last year to
over 1,800. The overall Symposium attendance exceeded 7,900 -- an
increase of about 20 percent over last year. Paul Drzaic as the
general chair and Frank Libsch as the technical program chair, as
well as the entire program committee, clearly are to be congratulated
for making key contributions to this success.
The next major conference event will be the combination of IDW
and Asia Display, to be held this year in Nagoya, Japan from October
16 to19. The technical program in Nagoja will be of similar scope
and size as the one in San Jose.
Conferences, not only at the international level, but also at the
regional and chapter levels, are a vital part of the society's activities.
Over the coming years we will continue to identify new topics and
venues, and we will continue to support the activities that encourage
the exchange of the latest technical information.
The SID publications are also continuing to improve. Information
Display magazine has been on a "continuous improvement"
plan for several years now -- one that will never end. The major
challenge this year was to get the Society's archival technical
publication, the Journal of the SID, on a regular quarterly publication
schedule. Editor Andy Lakatos has just about completed this objective.
Tony Lowe has continued to champion our efforts to introduce important
books on various topics of interest to the display community. The
most recent contributions are by Ernst Lueder, "Liquid Crystal
Displays," and Shin-Tson Wu and Deng-Ke Yang, "Reflective
Liquid Crystal Displays."
This year major improvements were made to the SID web-site (www.sid.org)
as its utilization and popularity continue to grow. An indicator
of the growing importance of "sid.org" is that this year
most of you registered for the Symposium using the web-site. The
web-site is becoming a source of technical information and industry
news and as a way to network with display experts anywhere in the
world. It also contains what we believe is the most extensive and
up-to-date conference calendar for display-related events in the
Local chapter activities continue to expand, allowing for the local
and regional exchange of technical information, and for networking
with colleagues. The opportunity to meet others and to be able to
discuss technical and industry trends is becoming ever more important
as the display community grows. Two new chapters were added this
year, one in India and the other in Singapore/Malaysia. SID is today
very much an international organization. It owes its success to
the many volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise.
We maintain only a small office in San Jose, competently staffed
by Dee Dumont and Jenny Needham.
Should you wish to increase your participation or if you have some
ideas about how to further enhance SIDs success, I would be
very pleased to hear from you. One area that I will be emphasizing
during this coming year is education. Can we as a society be more
effective and have a greater ongoing presence in display-related
education? Today, we do various seminars in connection with our
conferences. I think we can do more.
So, "Are we there yet?" I think by now you can guess
my answer. Do we need to make a quick stop for a stretch-break or
to recharge our batteries? Would you like to get on board as we
drive on to the next exciting interim destination? I would be pleased
if you would share your thoughts on this topic and others. You can
reach my by e-mail at email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org,
by phone at 425-557-8850, by fax at 425-557-8983, or by mail at
22513 SE 47th Place, Sammamish, WA 98075.