It’s pretty clear now that about 75 million years ago, a giant meteorite crashed into the Earth, creating a sort of nuclear winter on a grand scale that irrevocably changed the climate. The swampy, tropical environment that supported the dinosaurs vanished, as did most of the dinosaurs as well. But there were two types of animals that survived and prospered after this catastrophe. The first were the smallest and nimblest of the dinosaurs themselves. (Today, we call them birds.) The second group’s members were also small and nimble: the mammals.
This is what Darwin called the survival of the fittest.
Today, U.S. manufacturing companies of all sizes are faced with a situation that’s all too similar to that of the dinosaurs. The environment has changed radically from what it was during the post-World War II era when the structural foundations and business cultures of today’s largest companies came into being. Some of these companies, saddled with obsolete bureaucracies and seemingly unable to make products people want to buy, may soon be extinct. And the current economic meltdown, while not quite on the scale of a mountain-sized asteroid crashing into Earth, will surely accelerate the process of change.
The question is, of course, who will survive?
The answer is, the companies that are small and agile enough to adapt and remain competitive. And that probably means finding a new ecosystem.
Moving beyond the metaphors of social Darwinism, we need to think about what will help U.S. companies stay in the game. And I’d like to begin with what will not work, and that’s a tax cut for business. It infuriates me that politicians, who are supposed to have the good of the whole society in mind, should think so narrowly. Face it, American businesses need to know how to win on any playing field, level or not.
With the right effort, and the right changes, they can. And we at AllBusiness are here to help. We know how hard it is to think about strategic issues when you’ve got upset customers, tough negotiations, personnel problems and a payroll to meet every two weeks. We provide new ideas, tips, inspiration and information gathered from the whole of the Internet, and also created by our own experts. And we’ve just taken a big step towards doing a better job.
AllBusiness has formed an alliance with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and created a new Editorial Board to help us focus with laser sharpness on the issues small businesses need to look at so they can increase their ability to compete. The MEP, composed of over 50 manufacturing consulting groups (or and sometimes more in every state), provides consulting help to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies at substantially reduced rates, and has an amazing track record of success at everything from factory floor efficiency to global marketing.
Some of the upcoming articles based on MEP input that will appear in our “Featured” section will cover crisis management, negotiation tactics, succession planning and taking lean beyond the factory floor in include supply chains. And that’s just a start.
There’s only one group of people whose input on what we publish is more important: you. So please, don’t be shy about making suggestions on the topics you think we should cover. We’ll respond.