The time to put an end to sloppy, inefficient customer service has long passed. Those businesses that continued to neglect the customers' needs long ago found themselves out of business and baffled as to why their demises came so suddenly. After all, they had remained in business simply by being in the business. But they gave everyone else, including their customers, the business! They have joined the ranks of the forgotten, as more enlightened and customer-oriented competitors have swallowed up their businesses.
The playing field is getting much smaller and much more broodingly brazen. Business, once conducted in a small town, has spread across county lines. City businesses have sprawled across state lines. National companies have mushroomed into international behemoths, consuming human resources, ecological space and natural wealth. There is not a space untouched by ravenous free enterprise, including the rain forests and the polar regions. In the midst of plenty for the few, there is yet hunger, deprivation and disease for the many.
The machine shop is a microcosm of world differentiation. On a much smaller scale, the machinations that go on in the machinery business are often just a smaller model of what portends on the horizon of the global economy.
Similar maneuverings pervade the inner psyche of ownership and management. As the company grows from a "mom and pop" operation to a respectable chamber of commerce company to an international player, something happens in the deep recesses of the company's identity. Small-town values hunker down and are slowly replaced by inconsistent and often conflicting operational methods and directives. And something very important is lost in the transition. The original aegis of the company fragments into disparate components, each vying for attention and recognition and each unrecognizable from the founder's original intent.
The old ways of doing business versus the new ways of doing business create a "vacuum of erratic leadership"—a time warp of personal and often (in small companies) familial strife: original founders versus second-generation ascendants; reliable managers versus untested whippersnappers; tempered caution versus cautionless temper. Growing pains are often mistaken as inevitable signs of internal struggles rather than opportunities for development and expansion. Process is often confused with the hijacking of the system rather than the effects of internal decentralization and external globalization. A casual observer would not recognize the transition, but the vested players sense a gradual eroding of the primary directives.
And where are the customers in all of this? They are still waiting for someone to take care of their needs! Jaded Jingoism: the ancient replay of the "survival of the fittest," only this time it will cost your job, your career and your livelihood.