No one was expecting good news to come out of Caterpillar’s earnings report today, but it was better than expected, as I wrote in this piece about the company’s new hybrid tractor, the D7E. The company reported a 66% drop in Q2 sales compared to last year. But here’s the silver lining: CAT beat analyst estimates, raised its 2009 forecast, and saw its shares jump $4.13, or nearly 11.3 percent, to $40.78 in pre-market trading.
Caterpillar has thrived in good times and survived the down cycles in part because it is the #1 brand in most of its categories. And it has remained #1 in part because of its culture of innovation. Which brings me to a comment on the story posted by Bob Hoerr, who worked as an apprentice at Caterpillar’s foundry from 1939 to 1944. He writes: “One of our training manuals had a statement attributed to C.G.A. Rosen, developer of the Cat Diesel engine — “Let your imagination soar — then engineer it back down to earth.”
Caterpillar is navigating an unusually difficult economic cycle, and no doubt many of its employees are spending less time letting their imaginations soar and more time worrying about losing their jobs. I wonder how that innovation spirit will survive. I hope it does.
In any case, Rosen’s mantra is something all of us can learn from. It doesn’t just apply to engineers. And it doesn’t don’t just apply to Caterpillar. The gist — Dream big and figure out how to make it happen — is a mantra for all of us.
Do you have a personal mantra? does your company? And if so, how well is it surviving the economic downturns?
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