We’ve been here before, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck…

Hurrah for February 1st.

Despite the joyous welcome it receives at the start of its 31-day stint, what a relief it is to say goodbye to January.

For many reasons, January seems to last twice as long as most months. It’s not that we’ve seen the last of the winter. In fact, quite often at this time of the year, the worst of it is still to come. Heavy snow is due in some parts of the UK next week, and the spring equinox is still many weeks away. So, if you find the cold dark mornings tough – who doesn’t? – it can feel as if winter is a semi-permanent state.   

Spring is on the way

We are, however, picking up speed, and spring is just around the corner. Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but early mornings are not quite so impenetrably dark and the sun (if we’re lucky to see it) sinks in the west just a little later every day. Between the mulch of last year’s leaves and the water-logged ground, snowdrops are poking up their angelic yet determined little heads. Soon it will be the turn of the daffs and the cheerful tulips. By the end of next month, the house martin will complete its long journey back from Africa, followed by the swallow and finally the elusive swift.  

Transatlantic traditions

So, although we may still have to face many a cold, dark day between now and the onset of spring, the start of February is still something to celebrate. In fact, February 2nd – considered to be exactly halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox – is particularly celebrated in Canada and the US. Derived from an old Pennsylvania Dutch tradition – and so actually a historic old European tradition – February 2nd is known as Groundhog Day.

This particular superstition is based upon the premise that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day – the official midway point – and sees its shadow, it will go back into its den to sleep away the remaining weeks of winter away. Which means we face six more weeks of chill, sunless days. But if there’s no shadow, we can expect widespread celebration as this means the early arrival of spring.

Punxsutawney Phil

At face value, this interpretation seems counter-intuitive. We need the sun to see a shadow. Surely the fact that it’s out in early February might be taken to mean that spring is on the way. Even though it’s largely celebrated in the US and Canada, a lot of us know of this tradition, made famous in the 1993 movie of the same name. At the uniquely named Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, all eyes are on Phil the Groundhog. Although he’s not the most reliable…

‘Even though he’s been forecasting since 1887, Phil’s track record for the entire country isn’t perfect. To determine just how accurate he is, we’ve compared U.S. national temperatures with Phil’s forecasts. On average, Phil has gotten it right 40% of the time over the past 10 years.’ Groundhog Day Forecasts and Climate History

Challenge can bring much needed change

Like many traditions, Groundhog Day isn’t crying out to be examined – rather it’s simply to be shared and enjoyed with other like-minded individuals. And for that very reason, it will continue to be celebrated, unchallenged year after year.

When it comes to our business traditions, the opposite should probably be true. We need to re-examine the way we work – not blindly do things the way we’ve always done them. The start of spring is a good time to do some soul-searching and spring-cleaning. As budgets shrink, skills are in short supply and customer loyalty is eroding, businesses need to focus all their efforts on meeting their strategic goals.

Automation can help all of us do that, and we know that for sure at Four Business Solutions. Week in and week out, we see enterprises like yours optimising their time by embracing contract management software.

We’d like to share all the benefits that Contract Insight, our contract management software, can bring to your business. Contract Insight puts automation to work for you, enabling contract management with a few clicks of the mouse – from the initial supplier or customer onboarding, verification and due diligence through to the contract preparation and negotiation to the signed document. Click here to find out more.

Or alternatively, contact John O’Brien, CEO at Four Business Solutions – global business consultants and software integrators specialising in business process improvement.

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