In this space last month I tried to make a point about the obligation companies have to preserve the jobs of their workers, comparing the prevailing American perspective to that of Japan and Germany. And in the wake of the downsized environments so many people work in today, I urged companies to take a larger view of the role of business in our system -- to create the opportunity for work and wealth that lets us all live our lives in a secure and meaningful way.
That apparently struck a nerve, drawing a number of interesting reader responses. One identified still more consequences of widespread downsizing: "As we `shed' workers, macro economic transfer costs increase -- crime, welfare, etc.!"
Another reader was less impressed with the notion of assigning the role of social provider to business. "Hogwash!" he said. "The purpose of business is to meet customer needs. If we do it well, and continue to do it well so that the customers come back, then we will be able to provide opportunity for work and wealth creation. If we don't we won't!"
A native of Japan was interested in the strategic advantages of retaining the know-how of an experienced workforce. In comparing the relative merits of the German and Japanese approaches, he said, "Neither one is wrong. It's the quality of the people" that makes one company succeed where another fails.
At the risk of sounding like a candidate, I think they are all right. Without satisfied customers, no business prospers. And prosperity -- or at least the faithful pursuit of it -- should be viewed as the moral obligation of all players in a business enterprise.
The best assets in that pursuit are knowledgeable and committed people. But it also takes good technology -- which is a rather long way to come to the point of this very special issue of Modern Machine Shop. In our industry, there is simply no event as important as IMTS. It brings together the world's best metalworking experts and equipment. Shrewd shop managers will seize this opportunity to seek out solutions to their problems of today, and to get a glimpse of the technology that will help secure their future.
So take a long, hard look at this special IMTS preview, and then go to the show. Your attendance alone won't fulfill that obligation to succeed, but it could be an awfully good start.