A Bird in Hand

Some organizations are working with the assets they have to increase profits while lowering costs

Every company, it seems, is looking to boost earnings with limited capital investment. A mirage? Perhaps. But recent case studies reveal how some organizations are working with the assets they have to increase profits while lowering costs. Other groups are turning misfortunes into physiological and educational benefits.

For example, DTE Energy — along with many other utilities — has accelerated the sale of unused or older equipment in recent years. Not so much a garage sale, but a practical way to boost earnings while reducing storage and security expenses. Automakers and suppliers are doing the same thing (above and beyond just-in-time delivery).

Meanwhile, the Detroit Institute of Arts has come up with an innovative exhibit, opening Nov. 21, called Fakes, Forgeries, and Mysteries. Rather than partnering with another museum to arrange a sometimes-costly showing of works by the likes of Henry Matisse or Vincent Van Gogh, the DIA scoured their own archives for mistakes and other discoveries made through the years regarding artist attribution and authenticity. The exhibit will demonstrate how the DIA continually re-assesses artworks through research, science, and technology, revealing an aspect of the museum’s work rarely seen by the public.

“The exhibit is like a very good detective story,” says Graham Beal, the DIA’s director, president, and CEO, who came up with the idea a few years back.

On the health care front, the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor has, for years, cared for raptors (owls, falcons, hawks, even an eagle) that have been injured in the wild and cannot return to their natural habitat. The birds live in spacious outdoor enclosures, and the public is encouraged to visit at no charge.

Last spring, Leanne Chadwick, a raptor educator and development coordinator at the center, along with her development director Francie Krawcke, laid the foundation for introducing the birds into hospitals, health care facilities, and nursing homes. The effort proved to be an instant success. “Florence Nightingale would keep a little owl in her coat pocket when tending to the sick and injured,” Chadwick says. “We thought two or three hours of patient interaction with the raptors would lower stress levels and provide stimulating educational benefits.”

Chadwick also tapped into the animal-assisted therapy studies at Oakland University in Rochester Hills to enhance the raptor program.

Already, the birds have visited with patients at Ann Arbor’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the Veteran’s Hospital, as well as other facilities, with encouraging results.

“One therapist told me that, after a recent program, patients were moving, going outside, talking, and interacting — all of which contribute to better health and recovery,” Chadwick says. “We’re turning negatives into positives.”