BIG Manufacturing. Last to Know, Last to Go

I was mulling my current employment situation over yesterday, and I thought of something that I think not many people have realized yet. Dare I say this is a bold prediction?

Big manufacturing companies are notorious for being late adopters of technology. From my experience, technology tends to happen to them instead happening for them. Allowing this to continue is fast becoming a dangerous approach to business.

Manufacturers (especially the large ones) prefer to dictate the market (especially the labor market) instead of adjust to it. When the market changes, most adjust slowly and reluctantly. They’ve been successful thus far with this strategy, especially when dealing with their production work force. But they are quickly falling behind in dealing with their IT work force.

Why are they falling behind and why is this dangerous?  Because IT is becoming more and more integral in measuring and locating the biggest threat to manufacturing margins–inefficiencies.  The cost for entry into efficiency analysis technologies is becoming cheaper and cheaper, which allows smaller manufacturers with more agile and hungry management to tool up with the same resources as BIG manufacturers.  As a result, the demand for those with the skills to implement these technologies is growing.

Many big manufactures haven’t tooled themselves to the point of realizing that their old methods of measuring inefficiency are themselves inefficient.

By being late adopters, many BIG manufactures are getting a late start to using the technology available to them, and even those who catch on early run the risk of losing their talent to market forces over which their control is diminishing because of their “business as usual” mentality.

Want to see what technology can do to big industries that try to maintain the status quo in changing marketplaces?  Check out what is happening to some other “bigs”–namely BIG music and BIG newspapers.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that I’m completely wrong.  Time will tell.

Patrick Henry Would Have Loved David Lee Roth

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” But that was before DLR and Sammy Hagar left Van Halen. I asked my readers to choose to replace the word death with a Democrat, a Republican, Michael Bloomberg, or VH with Gary Cherone. Cherone was chosen by 38% of respondents.

That means that Cherone is not just capable of killing the ultimate party band. He’s also the equivalent to real death in many people’s minds.

Stupor Tuesday

What a stinker.

Lot’s of folks around the office are talking about the primaries today.  It’s strange to me that so many people don’t pay attention until the day of.

Anyway, here’s a quick roundup of what some of the blogs I frequent are saying this morning…

Music City Bloggers is taking a poll.  It reminds me of my favorite episode of “Married With Children”. 

  • Kelly Bundy enters room–“What are you guys doing?”
  • Bud Bundy–“We’re taking a poll.”
  • Kelly–“What are you going to do with a poll?”
  • Bud–“We’re going to stick it in your head so we’ll have a place to hang the sign that says, ‘duh.'”
  • Kelly to Al–“So unfair.  You won’t let me get my nose pierced but you’re going to put a poll in my head?!”

I feel like I’m about to get a poll stuck in my head–more like a javelin.

I’m sure the folks at TennesseeFree are going to be hitting it from all sides, but for now are at least having a little fun with John McCain.

The Liberty Papers have a few predictions.  I predict we’re about to lose some money or some freedom, and more than likely some of both.

Knoxviews has a roundup of local races, and  Brendan Loy wonders if the circus situation in Knox County may help Obama’s cause in Tennessee.

And finally, in an oldy but goody, Fail Blog keeps everything in perspective.

More to come later.

So It’s Not Just Me

Back before anyone read this blog *wink, cough*, I wrote a fairly snarky post about the absolutely ridiculous commercials for Yaz and Viva Viagra.  It seems I’m finally vindicated, as NewsComa is equally creeped out by the Viagra commercial.

Every now and then I make a mistake that seems fairly common among bloggers.  I come up with an idea that is so damn funny that I absolutely must get it published as soon as possible.  After all, the whole world is probably dying to know how unbelievably witty and clever I am, right?  I then spend the next couple of days checking every now and then to see how many hundreds of links and comments I’ve received.

So far I’m batting .000

I suspected my Yaz/Viagra post may fall into that category, so I went back an re-read it.  My conclusion:

I really am as clever and funny as I thought–maybe even funnier!

My Ideal News, uh, Thingy

I’m not affiliated with and don’t have any knowledge of the newspaper business. You could make the case that this doesn’t make my opinion worth much, but if you consider the performance over the last few years of people who do know the business, maybe doing something different warrants some consideration.

Jack Lail has been posting recently about possible new ways to calculate compensation for journalists, and in a post today hit on something:

At my newspaper, we have been distributing daily top 10 lists of articles based on page views to the entire newsroom for a year or more. The lists are not used for compensation and do seem to provide instant market insights about what readers found interesting.

The way I see it, newspapers, for now, are positioned to provide three things that are at a high premium and that most blogs/bloggers can’t deliver. I think most would be wise to capitalize on these by shifting the state of mind from being a newspaper to becoming a news organization/outlet/center:

Excellent writing
Not just good writing. For now, newspapers have a large market share of excellent writers. That’s a part of the market I’d want to keep. Let the good writers go if you have to, but keep the excellent writers around. That means paying them well. If you don’t, you will eventually lose the excellent writers to their own endeavors, and you’ll be stuck with nothing but good writers. Good writing is nice, but it doesn’t make you much more special that the thousands of independent blogs that feature above average writers.

Investigative journalism
The time, resources, and energy it takes to dig (and dig, and dig) for a story set newspapers and real journalists apart from everyone else. Give us more stories that take time to develop. Give us stories that, in short, no one else can. In most cases, that would mean increased concentration on local news, and pulling back on stories happening elsewhere. And sports? Please. The account of a football game that was attended by 100,000 people, viewed by millions, and opined about (real time) on countless message boards and blogs has little value the day after the event. Does it sell copies? I’m sure of it. Does it sell as many copies as it did 10 years ago? I’d guess probably not, per capita. And if you’re now going to count web clicks instead of copies, newspaper web sites definitely don’t have the market share that the print version of the paper had 10 years ago. It doesn’t seem like a good place for resources long term. It may be time to start scaling back or redirecting resources.

Being community hubs
Newspapers have a huge asset that takes years to create–name recognition in their local markets. It makes sense to capitalize on that by being first to that market with resources that connect the community. Instead of viewing local bloggers as competitors and hacks, find a way to leverage them as a way to drive traffic. Become the place that the community uses to find local blogs. The bad news? It’s may already be too late. In my local market, the News Sentinel caught on remarkably early, and even goes so far as to feature bloggers on the front page of their web site on the weekends and has built a community aggregator. In other markets, it has taken a while, and links to other sites and blogs still aren’t featured or easy to find. As a result, other organizations have stepped up and are trying to fill the void left by what should have been the logical market owner.

It is great to see some newspapers are catching on and are willing to try something new or go in a different direction. At the same time, it’s frustrating to see the industry as a whole belly aching about its problems. Face the facts–not only are the rules of the game changing rapidly, but the game itself is evolving.

I mean, this isn’t the record industry. You guys may actually have to change.

Lessons From the Record Industry

Seth Godin has a great post today on the lessons to be learned from the music business.  It’s a little lengthy for a Godin post, but it’s definitely worth the full read.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but here goes: suing people is like going to war. If you’re going to go to war with tens of thousands of your customers every year, don’t be surprised if they start treating you like the enemy.

This point alone is a lesson that the record companies themselves still don’t seem to have learned.

Sooner Or Later They Catch On

A little over two weeks ago, Ron Paul made a morning appearance on Fox and Friends and made a slightly controversial statement that was talked about (a little bit) in the blogosphere well into the next evening.  Pretty sticky story, huh?

Now, as far as newspapers go, our local New Sentinel is pretty forward thinking and aware when it comes to blogs and online media.  I’d wager to say they are ahead of the curve.  So why did they wait until January 3 to publish an editorial on Dr. Paul’s comments?  Did it take that long to pen an opinion?  I mean, it may be better than I could do, but it isn’t that well written.  Countless people wrote about this within a couple of hours.

I realize Mr. Korda doesn’t have editorials posted very often, which actually makes this column even more disappointing.  If you’re going to have me sit on the edge of my seat for two weeks waiting on an editorial, at least give me something timely.

I’m a little embarrassed for all of the Ron Paul supporters who bothered writing responses defending him over a story this ancient.  The fact that the entire column is based on a comment taken out of context is nothing when you consider that George Korda must have spent most of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays carving it into a slab of stone with hammer and chisel.

If you’re wondering why the newspaper industry is having problems…

Credit Card Regulation, Free Markets, and Paying Cash

The Coyote Chronicles challenges Free Marketers to defend deregulation of the credit card industry: 

You can make the argument that people who can’t pay their balances in full every month should not take out a credit card, but thats more than a little disingenuous since we would see a staggering drop in consumer spending if people only spent when they could pay cash. The restaurant and travel industries would suffer immediately. I doubt there would be a Black Friday at all. Don’t even get me started about the car business.

I’ll take a shot at this one.  First of all, Black Friday, car financing, and credit cards themselves are all fairly new concepts.  Somehow, civilization survived before they existed, and suspect it will survive long after they are gone.  The assertion that our economy is propped up by the insane amount of consumer credit that exists currently tells me that we are, as a country, living above our means.  The fact that the savings rate keeps declining while consumer debt continues to rise tells me that we are in denial of this fact.  Government regulation that enables this foolish behavior only delays the inevitable crash that must occur to correct the market and insures with each passing year that the crash will be harder.

What would happen to the economy if people stopped using credit cards and started paying cash?  One thing is for sure.  Every debt free individual would have greatly increased buying power because a higher percentage of his income would be available to purchase goods and services instead of paying interest on the Big Mac Value Meal he bought 4 months ago.

Hat tip to MCB.

In The Nashville Know

MCB is linking up to Jared’s post on things you should know about living in Nashville.  I’m not from Nashville proper, but from “out in the county”.  I have a few that need to be added to help the newcomer get by.  Nashville folks, please don’t take these personally…it’s all in good fun.

1.  Never, under any circumstances, pronounce the word “Demonbreun” without using three m’s.  The correct Nashville pronunciation is “Duh- muhm-bree-uhm”.

2.  Don’t freak out and ask for an autograph when you see a someone famous.  Nashville etiquette says that you ignore the celebrity.  There is a very good reason for this.   You need to be able to brag to your friends later that you saw a celebrity and didn’t care.  Don’t make a big deal out of seeing someone famous.  Make a big deal out of the fact that you didn’t make a big deal of it.

3.  It’s not a “garden hose”.  It’s a “hosepipe”–having the properties of both a hose and a pipe.

4.  When you see a funeral procession, pull over.  Don’t just slow down.  Stop.  Yes, this stands true for most of the South, but Nashville is a gateway city–the first stop for many transplants to the South.

5.  The 24/7 Horn Honking Festival that takes place at the Capital every few years is not actually sanctioned by the Chamber of Commerce.  That’s just a few concerned citizens who feel they shouldn’t have to pay a fee for the right to earn a living in our great state.

I hope these help.  Once you’ve mastered Nashville, you can move on to a bigger challenge, like Knoxville.  On second thought, just stay put–we like our peace and quiet around here.  It makes it easier for us to here the whispers of our County Commissioners plotting and scheming in the shadows.

We Co-Sleep, But Don’t Want to Argue About It

Over at Music City Bloggers there is a post about co-sleeping that thankfully hasn’t erupted into a full-on war over what is right and what isn’t.

We co-sleep with our four month old, and I think it’s great.  Of course, nursing, kicking, crying, grunting, cats, and trains don’t wake me up, so not a problem for me either way.  :)   The biggest advantage I’ve noticed so far is that the baby actually likes bedtime.  Hopefully this will carry over into toddlership.  The other advantage is that we get to spend as much time as possible with her while she still likes us.

However, that doesn’t make it right (or wrong).  Honestly, I don’t understand why people get so militant about this kind of stuff to begin with–breast feeding, co-sleeping, etc.  Do what works for you and your kids.  We’ll do what works for us.  It seems like most people spend their entire parenthood in survival mode, so I’m not sure what qualifies them to give advice or direction.  Or as I so tactfully put it on a message board a few years ago…

You worry about screwing up your kids, and I’ll worry about screwing up mine.