A free periodic e-mail newsletter
Joanne F. Gucwa MM CMC, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Technology Management Associates, Inc.,
where you can find a number of short stories and Easter articles.
For those of you who have inquired, too much talkin' and not enough writin' is why Issue 2 of 1998 is out at long last.
I gave two talks in March: "The Internet: Hollow Myth or Solid Business Tool" at the monthly meeting of the Association of Internet Professionals" on the 17th (yes, St. Patrick's day...and in Chicago, no less) and "Net Success: Building Online Strategies & Identifying Target Markets" at the Second Annual "Internet Marketing Strategies" presented by the Chicago American Marketing Association...both jointly with Jeff Molander
We've also been keeping Jeff busy doing heavy-duty, industrial-size research. Thanks for your great work, Jeff!
I'll also be a panel member at the MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago's April 13 meeting, talking about Web-Wise global business intelligence gathering.
In addition, we've been blessed with an extraordinary amount of "real" (paying client) and volunteer (unreal?) work over the past several months. Check out the Chamber and Institute of Management Consultants for totally UNREAL business and professional development opportunities in the first two sections, below.
As always, we appreciate your feedback and welcome any comments or suggestions you may have.
In this issue:
For Japanese program: 312-984-5050 or
A few topics:
Not to mention noted speakers such as:
And amenities, such as:
More info: http://www.imcusa.org/imcAnnualConf.html
DataMerge, Inc., a Denver-based developer of software and information for companies seeking financing, has just released VentureTrack 2000, a software package containing extensive profiles and proprietary "insider" information on hundreds of venture capital firms throughout North America.
The VentureTrack 2000 CD-ROM Infobase gives entrepreneurs and small business owners "insider" information, education and advice critical to establishing business relationships with specific venture capitalists and securing financing from them. The software lets users find the firms that optimally fit their needs by identifying links between their company and the interests of the venture capitalists.
VentureTrack 2000's "Inside Track" section then instructs users on custom tailoring their business plan and presentation to each venture capital firm. Specific questions, concerns and objections that a given firm will likely raise and good responses for each are also provided to VentureTrack 2000 users. Call 1-800580-1188 for a free sample.
VENTURE CAPITAL links you may find of value:
[Editor's note: Nepotism is alive and well. This was written by my Ki... (oops, almost said the "K" word) YOUNGER brother. Despite all the talk about quality, even the top manufacturers in their fields often don't really get it, as you'll see.]
Technology - I love it. Cell phones, fax machines, surround sound, all that stuff for home and office is great. If we could only use it more here in the world of manufacturing.
Aha! I'll bet you were just thinking to yourself, "but we can incorporate technology into manufacturing, you nitwit. You just need to be more innovative." And you would be absolutely correct. The problem is that current technology can't (or at least at a reasonable cost) replace the human beings putting the stuff together. Yep. Stuff. All manufacturing is about putting "stuff" together. I've been in manufacturing for over 25 years and every place manufactured something radically different from slot machines to military missile launch controls. It's all just "stuff". The common denominator is that it took people to put that stuff together.
Sure, technology was there; better tools, faster punch presses, ergonomic chairs, but the people were the same Homo sapiens in each factory.
Want to have some fun? Consider that Homo sapiens the most technologically advanced asset you've got. Now work with that asset to figure out how to put your "stuff" together right the first time, every time for the least cost.
I've tried them all. Holler, praise, threats, rewards, punishments, you name it. Nothing works forever. But the closest I've come was to communicate. And I mean communicate just about everything you can legally about the business. When I started at a former company it was amazing how little communication took place throughout the place. From management to the factory floor nobody wanted to talk to one another. First day on the job I asked one of the industrial engineers to explain the product flow on one particular assembly line. "Well, first the cabinet is assembled at each of these work stations. The final product is then tested. It then goes over to the inspector where a sheet is written up with the defects found. It is then pushed down to Fred over here who fixes the defects. It is then re-inspected and, . . .". Hold it! Here comes my silly question.
"You mean that we build stuff (there's that word again) so that we could fix it before we ship it?" "Of course. You don't want us to send out bad product, do you?" I can't resist the next silly question and major radical idea. "How about building it right the first time?" By this time the I.E. is looking at me like I'm some big bag of "duh". "People do make mistakes." "I know that" I said, "but did anybody tell them?"
Now the look is kind of inquisitive but still not sure. "Take Fred over there and find something else for him to do. Have the person that made the defect come over and fix it" Back comes the look like I've got rocks in my head. "But that will stop the line!" Yep, once. But I'll bet he never makes the same mistake again since everybody stopped working to watch him go over to the end of the line to fix a problem he caused.
We went back to some of the past inspection records and found that every single product off that line had the exact same defect - a loose ground strap. And on every one of those products the repair guy, Fred, fixed it. Nobody bothered to tell Joe that he was leaving the ground straps loose. Once he was told, the single largest defect in the plant disappeared.
Picture a boat floating in an enclosed bay. Hidden by the water, rocks of various sizes and heights rise from the floor of the bay. The boat represents the manufacturing operations side of the business, the rocks represent the build-up of problems in areas such as quality, materials, engineering, and process. The water represents inventory, labor, and automation technology.
To increase manufacturing profitability, production managers work to reduce inventory levels and/or labor costs (often through automation). As inventory and labor are reduced, the water level lowers. What eventually happens? Right on! The biggest problem area becomes exposed.
As production manager, what are your options? (1) Chip away at the problem or (2) raise the water level...which hides, but doesn't solve, the problem.
What's the easier option? You got it. Throw money at the problem by increasing inventory or adding extra inspection or re-work staff, not to mention overtime...or automating (what is probably a flawed process). Raise the water level, and your spending.
What's the smarter option? Leave the problem exposed. Chip away at it until the process flows smoothly. Harder, yes. But the road to lean production. Cautiously lower the water level (reduce inventory, reduce labor, automate) until another problem occurs. Chip away at that new problem, using technology AND common sense tools, then continue reducing inputs as a proportion of outputs. Occasionally, you'll strike a blow that'll shatter the rock and you can really drain your production costs. Next thing you know, you'll be the low cost (high profit) producer.
Last year this newsletter published a book review of mine. Net Gain - Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communications, by Hagel and Armstrong. The authors proposed that getting yourself a Web Page is not, of itself, what making a success of your on-line marketing is all about.
What they proposed instead, was creating a community of customers (or users) by providing tools which allow them to interact not only with the host, but with EACH OTHER.
I found the premise compelling, but the book somewhat short on examples. The authors suggested providing "chat rooms" for visitors, information on third-party offerings that complement the host's products -- but that was about it. Their suggestions did, however, lead me to look for devices of this kind on the Web, and some turned up. At www.amazon.com, for instance, the well-known Internet bookseller provides reviews of titles they stock; and go so far as to invite readers to post their own reviews if they choose. Similarly for marketers of classic movies on videotape. This led to another idea of my own, of which more later.
I think the utility of these features -- and their benefit to the profit-seeking hosts of the pages on which they are found -- are obvious. What is also obvious is the obligation this puts on the host, to be honest and even-handed. For example, a collection of uniformly laudatory reviews, of a particular book or film, might suggest a stacked deck.
But the most significant thing about this marketing approach in terms of the sort of economic analysis everyone seems to want to make for marketing on the Net: None of the facilities these Web pages provide for user interactions makes the host any money; certainly not directly.
So what is the point? That is where Mary Houten-Kemp's "Everything E-Mail" comes in. Her story is most interesting.
As she is glad to tell you, the idea for her page grew out of her interest in, and enthusiasm for the possibilities of email as a new mode of communication. As she began collecting information on the subject, it occurred to her that other people might be interested; and that led to the web page as a way of sharing what she had found out.
Something missing here? Right. The business. There wasn't any, at first. It was only after a couple of years, interacting with visitors to the page, that the idea for MailDirector, her email problem solving consultancy, came together.
Perhaps this is why, in my own case, it was not until the fourth or fifth visit to www.everythingemail.net that I discovered there was in fact a company behind it. By this time, of course, I knew that Ms. MailDirector was really into email, and had a good sense that her business concept was well thought out.
This certainly doesn't mean that everyone wanting to market themselves via the Web should expect to spend a couple years trying to figure out the business model. It does, however, point up the potential value of the Net in helping businesses find out what customers are really after, and how to communicate your business's answers to them.
So, if you find this argument compelling, and would like to see what a great Web page looks like look no further than --
As an afterword, my own experience. I do a lot of work with foundries, as it happens, and I'm interested in what industry information is available on-line. For some time I've been maintaining a collection of bookmarks covering the subject; and it occurred to me that other people might be interested in the same thing. So, with the help of a couple of high school kids and a local solutions provider, I've made my private file available to the world at large at:
Where's the profit in this venture? Haven't figured it out yet. What I can tell you, without embarrassing myself, is that it is costing me less per month than a one-inch classified ad in a trade publication.
Give you any ideas?
This is not a book about General Motors, nor is it focused on the works and thoughts of Aristotle, so don't go away just yet.
Truth, beauty, goodness, unity. What do these virtues, defined by the ancients, have to do with business? Plenty, according to author Tom Morris. As a matter of fact, everything.
Refreshingly readable for a modern-day philosopher, Mr. Morris writes with clarity. Just listen: "Corporate excellence is a form of human excellence." Easy to read, easy to understand, but bordering on trite...unless you read what comes before.
Are you studying and trying to apply the best practices of great companies? Fine and good, but they are not the silver bullets they appear to be at first glance. What is it in human nature that makes "best practices" work? Perhaps the secret is not in having all the answers, but in having the wisdom to ask the right questions, suggests Mr. Morris.
Salted and peppered with quotations from Juvenal to Jesus to Jung (German pronunciation notwithstanding); even Mikhail Baryshnikov and Van Gogh show up, as do Shakespeare and Hoffa (Jimmy), Oscar Wilde, Michelangelo and Sam Snead, plus a whole lot of near-prehistoric Greeks and Romans.
To quote a famous vocational school ad, if you're "serious about success" (corporate success, that is), READ THIS BOOK!
I hope you found something of value here that you can put to use directly or that might have stimulated some new ideas. Our Web site's always open, the fax machine (and coffee) is always on, and we check our e-mail frequently, even when we're overseas. Of course your phone calls, snail mail and visits are welcome as well. We'd be delighted to hear from you...anytime.
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