Economic Indicators and the Junior Military Officer – Factory Orders

On Tuesday of this week, the monthly Factory Orders report was posted for November 2009. The Wall Street Journal records it at : http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3063-economicCalendar.html.  This report shows “the dollar level of new orders for both durable and nondurable goods” over each month for the last 2 years.  The factory orders report  is used by analysts and investors to see how busy factories will be in the upcoming months and to identify potential economic trends.  You can read more on how investors use this indicator in the “Why Investors Care” link on the web page above.

For military officers looking to better understand where they fit into Corporate America, the recent factory orders report provides a very good example.  The chart provided with the report shows a clear turnaround of factory orders in August of 2009.  From an operational point of view, this means that businesses were seeing increased demand for their products starting at the end of this summer.  Production teams that had scaled back for over a year prior to August 2009 were suddenly looking at ramping back up to meet new demand.

As military officers who have led teams, you know what this challenge is all about.  Many of you have worked closely with a group of people who have developed processes and plans to address the current operations tempo.  Then, suddenly, things changed and you needed to lead your team in a new direction to meet changed goals.  There was likely resistance to overcome, problems to solve, bottlenecks to address and opportunities to pursue.  That is exactly what businesses were facing in August of 2009.

Interestingly, in the summary of our August 2009 Conference, we noted the trend 4 months before this report.  If you go back to our Cameron-Brooks August 2009 Career Conference blog (http://blog.cameron-brooks.com/2009/08/28/cameron-brooks-august-2009-career-conference/), we noted, “In addition to sales and process improvement, our August client companies have strong needs in production and supply chain areas as they look ahead to the upturn.”  As the Cameron-Brooks client companies looked ahead to increased demand, they turned to the junior military officer leadership experience to help them address the challenge of ramping up their teams. 

I’d like to make one additional point on seeing how the economy may impact the junior military officers’ ability to market themselves as leaders in Corporate America.  While this recent report shows how an improvement in factory orders created leadership opportunities, a downturn can also create a demand for leadership.  Scaling back a team can result in serious challenges for an organization and can cause issues related to morale, motivation and accountability.  For junior military officers who have recently returned from deployment, you’ve experienced how difficult it is to keep teams productive as their operations tempo decreases.  This point is important because it is pretty clear that economic growth will likely result in employment needs, and many economists expect that recent positive trends will result in unemployment decreases over time.  However, for Cameron-Brooks candidates, the market for leadership is often driven by the level of change and challenge in the marketplace.  This is why we’ve continued to recruit, and why we have seen strong demand for our candidates throughout the recession when many economic indicators were turning down.

We look forward to helping you with your career and to understanding the development career market for junior military officers in 2010.  Let us know if there is business news that you’d like help understanding.

Scott LePage