Recreational Boat Building Industry
An interesting Case Study involving a historical boat and its design and management decisions is available on the net. It illustrates some of the problems encountered when managing innovation and large projects. The case is called "The Vasa Capsizes". It is interesting to find that many of the same problems that plague innovation management were present hundreds of years ago as well.
If you are interested in learning even a little more about the Vasa, it is in a Swedish museum being restored and they have a nice multi-language web site.
The MCB Press web site has over 100 management related journals with many sample articles. The site offers a current European viewpoint to many of the issues faced by managers today. Many of the journals have an online discussion page associated with them. We strongly suggest you wander this site, note the particular journals in your fields of interest, and read some of the articles available from them. You will need the .pdf Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be obtained from their web site. We have a link to their site in our Software Support Segment of our Other Useful Links Section.
Toyota Motor Shows Its Mettle After Fire Destroys Parts Plant Wall Street Journal Article 8 May 1997.
21 February, 1997 Toyota's Japanese web site carries their December 18, 1997 press release of them joining with Kiwi of New Zealand to enter the boat building industry. They will design and market the boat, while Kiwi produces it. The boat has a new drive and Toyota will be selling two marine engines. The U.S. Division announced the formation of a U.S. Marine Division the same day. Extensive details are available on our Toyota Page.
The October 18th 1996 issue of Machine Design has a great landmark article titled, "The Web Ships Up Waves Of Change", that does a great job of illustrating some of the new uses of web technology by management and engineers.
Several on-line bulletin board type newsgroups discuss boating activities, problems, questions, etc. We have captured a few of the conversations and posted them in our rec.boats FOLDER. We have a discussion at the Engineering Desk about the need to establish a procedure to respond to field problems and other situations in the newsgroups.
The Patent Folder has a great story in it about the Invention of the Stern Drive. The background includes an internal conspiracy, several managers rejecting the new technology, and is an example of how long it can take for an idea to flourish. Many feel the stern drive itself is now in the mature position and some "new technology" may be knocking on its door. Its a great time to be alive!
The 18 October 1996 Wall Street Journal, Front Lines Segment by Thomas Petzinger Jr. was one of the first general public exposures of the concepts. The article titled, "How Creativity Can Take Wing At Edge of Chaos", goes on to report that many natural systems seem to thrive the best when they are poised on the edge of chaos. He likens large corporations to these systems and implies they too might do best "on the edge". We have a copy of the article posted as well as some e-mail comments from Mr. Petzinger and some ties to some other works we have posted.
For some additional information, the 21 October 1996 issue of Industry Week has an editorial type article on page 12 titled, "A New Science for Business Strategists:Complexity, chaos, and the 'natural laws' of business'" by John Mariotti. We have a report on his article on this site.
The December 13, 1996 Wall Street Journal "The Front Lines" column by Thomas Petzinger Jr. was titled, "Mexican Cement Firm Decides to Mix Chaos Into Company Strategy." It tells the problems of trying to deliver cement in Mexico with weather, traffic, labor disruptions, and unscheduled government inspections interfering with every truck load of cement that begins its life with only 90 minutes till spoiling. One huge firm, Cemex, in Monterrey was demanding orders 24 hours in advance and could only promise delivery within a 3 hour window in 1993. Builders were forced to maintain large crews on hand with nothing to do until the cement arrived. A Mr. Homero Resendez was assigned to merge information systems with another large producer they purchased. They were drawn to visit Federal Express by their well know on time guarantees. They visited the Federal Express operation again and then they spent some time with the 911 department of the Houston Fire Department. The revelation was that individual emergencies were unpredictable, but together emergencies display a rhythm that could be planned for.
They no acknowledged things were going to interfere with many loads.They were never quite sure what exactly would happen, but they could be sure that something would happen. Rather than penalize the customer, perhaps they could make last minute changes in their plans. They began a pilot program of putting dashboard computers in every truck in a city and putting the whole a pilot program of putting dashboard computers in every truck in a city and putting the whole city under the control of one switchboard. The truck reports their position and status by computer. An expert system is used to place incoming orders to the appropriate mixing plant or truck in the city based on traffic, anticipated orders, and pouring conditions. Now they are able to accept same day orders and deliver within a 20 minute window. The pilot program is now being expanded.
A related field, Genetic Algorithms, is covered in our Technology Folder in the Business Technology section on the Genetic Algorithms Page.
We discuss the relationship between some of the current chaos / CAS concepts and the Bright Field bulk cargo vessel crash on the Riverwalk in New Orleans on our Bright Field Web Site.
We have also established a group of links to Complex Adaptive Systems sites on the web. They are in our Other Useful Links section.
" The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco earlier this month ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Microsoft Corp. had wrongly classified them as independent contractors rather than direct Microsoft employees. The appeals court overturned a Seattle U.S. district court judge's ruling in favor of Microsoft."
"Microsoft said over the weekend that it is likely to appeal. But if the ruling stands Microsoft is certain to have to pay many millions of dollars in compensation."
"The Microsoft case turned on the definition of who is a temporary worker and which workers qualified for Microsoft's 401(k) retirement plan and its lucrative employee stock-purchase plan. Federal law contains a number of descriptions and tests for distinguishing between temporary and direct employees, and state law often adds to the list. The basic principle is know as "right to control," and refers to whether the company or the worker - or the worker's employment agency - really determines the worker's tasks, use of time, how the work is done, which tools are used, and other factors."
The boat building industry due to its seasonality and cyclical nature is a heavy user of temporary workers in both hand labor and technical positions. We encourage you to follow the development of this situation and to review your practices involving temporary workers.
The 20 September 1996 Wall Street Journal carried an article titled, "Job Hunting Takes Off in Cyberspace". The article talks of the huge growth in job postings on the net. It says that postings for the 15 leading on-line job banks have jumped from about 15,000 on any given day in 1994 to over half-a-million now. The article goes on to tell several success stories of corporations hiring good people throughout the net. It also tells success stories of individuals who found good jobs through these postings.
We have listed the 3 largest job sites in our Jobs / Labor Links segment of our Other Useful Links page. America's Job Bank alone now has about 300,000 job postings. Several of the services allow you to post resumes as well. This could be a low cost avenue to find some good technical people for your firm and if the business cycles to "in the toilet" again, you might use it to find a job yourself.
This section was left in due to its historical significanceOne topic making the rounds in the literature now is the potential for major computer disasters when the date changes to the year 2000. Most programs have been using a 2 digit date code and the 00 will cause them a lot of problems in calculating the difference between dates. We have a link to the Problems With the DATE/YEAR 2000 Page and to the U.S. Army Year 2000 Page in the Software Support Segment of our Other Useful Links Page.
The August 12, 1996 Business Week article, "Panic In The Year Zero Zero" on pages 72-73 discusses the problem of the major financial institutions computers and their inter-connectivity. There is special concern for Wall Street and the management of trades.
One recent article on the topic "Tick Tock 2000" is in the September 2 issue of Industry Week Magazine on pages 36-39. The article suggest an 8 step plan.
You might want to get somebody looking into this before its too late.