Basic Block and Tackle

Last year was a landmark for U.S. automakers. Ford Motor Co., the founder of the auto industry in the United States, lost its longstanding second place standing to Toyota Motor Corp., and General Motors Corp. may also bite the dust because Toyota sold more cars in the United States last year than GM did. Chrysler produced thousands of cars that it wasn’t able to sell. In 2000, about two-thirds of all cars purchased in North America were bought from U.S. companies. That figure has now dropped to 54 percent. Detroit sales keep falling while Japanese and Korean auto companies gain ground in the U.S. market. Consumer Reports recommends a much smaller percentage of autos manufactured by U.S. companies than by their Japanese counterparts—37 percent to 80 percent, respectively. “[U.S. companies’] reliability is hit-or-miss,” it states, “not consistent like that of vehicles from some Japanese companies.” Continue reading

The Decline of U.S. Dominance — Part I

The United States is still the dominant force in profit, productivity, creativity, and technology, but the rest of the world is catching up fast. We have had it all our way for the last 100 years. We have grown fat, lazy, and arrogant. Our position as the world leader is slipping every day. We are getting more and more in debt; this is true not only for the U.S. government, but for every one of us. People want… Continue reading

Is Three Sigma Good Enough?

There’s no doubt about it—we should all try to do everything perfectly. Anything that is scrapped or rejected or doesn’t meet customer expectations is waste. We all should schedule the time to do everything the best that we can. But do we really think this is the right thing to do all the time? Continue reading

Management Participation

The most important requirement for actuating the improvement process of your management system is to have your full management team participating before the nonmanagement employees become involved in the process. Management must be totally dedicated and be actively participating in the improvement process before and after it is presented to the employees. If the process is to work, management must set the standards. Continue reading

Is Perfection the Enemy of Good?

As I’m writing this column, the U.S. government is debating the approval of a trillion dollar-plus stimulation package, the Dow Jones average has dipped into the 7,000 range, hundreds of thousands of people were laid off work last week, and poor-performing companies throughout the United States are looking to the government to take money from the well-managed companies so they can continue to perform poorly. Continue reading

Uneasy But Useful Allies

There’s so much information in the world today that letting people re-create their own databases is a luxury we can’t afford. If we were all allowed to create our own basic concepts without any standardization, we couldn’t effectively interact with each other. Imagine trying to communicate if each person spoke a unique language, or how hard it would be to pay a bill if every individual used a different numbering system. Continue reading

The Deindustrialization of the United States

So if the United States continues to allow its manufacturing base to erode at a staggering pace how in the world can the U.S. continue to consider itself to be a great nation? We have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world in an effort to maintain a very high standard of living, but the current state of affairs is not anywhere close to sustainable. Every single month America goes into more debt and every single month America gets poorer.

So what happens when the debt bubble pops? Continue reading