More Questions Than Answers

by Linden Wicklund, AASP-MN Executive Director

After a little over six months on the job, I continue to have more questions than answers as I dig into the details of this association and the automotive service industry.

The fun part is how the questions are becoming more nuanced as my layers of understanding deepen. For example, Q: “What are the top challenges in the industry?” A: “Finding skilled labor is big.” Well, this industry is not unique in the challenges of finding skilled labor and the available labor pool is shrinking, so, “What is different about this industry that helps cultivate new solutions?” Another example: Q: “What laws do shops cite in negotiating insurance payments or when deciding how to repair a vehicle?” A: “Here are the two statutes used most often…” To which I reply, there must be more.

This adventure of learning and exploration has been interesting and challenging. It requires curiosity and transparency as I evolve as a sought-out expert who doesn’t have all the answers. I love member calls where someone asks a question or states an issue that I don’t know of a solution to. Those calls set into motion the hunt for what information already exists, what is opinion versus fact versus applied practice and what knowledge or tools are missing. My role is to go on that hunt so members don’t have to do that alone, and then to create resources that can be shared with the next person asking the same question and those who haven’t even thought to ask the question. And then very often, to carry on the hunt for stronger solutions that meet the needs of a wider range of businesses even after the original inquiry is addressed.

The process of creating more questions than answers to illuminate new understanding is exactly the process the AASP-MN Board of Directors is about to embark on. Over the next six months, the Board will be working with a consultant to create the next strategic plan. Creating such a plan that truly makes an impact in the future requires checking assumptions and scanning for information that might have once been passed by as irrelevant. For example, solutions for how to attract skilled labor during times when there were more than enough people entering the labor market look very different from solutions that are applicable today. Yesterday I heard someone remark, “We still have the same problems today that we had 45 years ago.” And while that is true, upon inspection, the situations in which the problems occur are wildly different. So, off on the adventure of learning the Board of Directors and I will go in good stewardship of this organization and on behalf of the industry-at-large.

Want more? Check out the August 2022 issue of AASP-MN News!