LO and Big Layoffs LO5505

Sat, 10 Feb 1996 14:55:10 -0500

In LO5354 Andrew Moreno wrote

>I was thinking.... Deming had a very big effect on Japan's "turn around"
>right? Deming's primary contribution was towards developing quality in
>Japanese manufacturing industry if I'm not mistaken.
>This was a key leverage point since Japan's turn-around was geared to
>producing goods for baby boomers to consume during the years that they
>were of age 20-50.

I have a little difficulty with this point as well as with the question
Andrew poses about helping developing countries to "leapfrog" from
agricultural to information economies. First the quote. This quote
infers that Deming and the Japanese foresaw the Baby Boomers becoming the
dominant economic force during these past few decades and worked to cater
to their desires and needs. I don't think that anyone involved was this
insightful. I think that the driving force was the turnaround and
stabilization of the Japanese economy in the (then) present and the
building of a solid base on which to continue that development into the
future. All of this was without having the foresight of what was to lay
ahead (Boomers). The trick to succeeding as a learning organization is to
be able to react to and learn from emerging trends AS THEY EMERGE (not

I can't think of any person I know (at about age 40-45 or so) whose life
has developed just as they predicted when they were 20 or so. Things have
a way of developing as they *should* in spite of our best laid plans. The
quote from Andrew suggests that Deming and his Japanese clients foresaw
the Boomer trend and made specific plans to cater to that market. Yet,
everything that I have read suggests that the development of such
signature goods and services as the WalkMan, CD technology, etc. were
developed as the result of breakthroughs which *just happened* and which
were recognized as significant events.

Learning organizations in today's world need to be open to new ideas and
treat them as potentially significant breakthroughs rather than dismissing
them as *just passing fads*.

I remember telling my wife that she should put a cassette player into her
'67 Camaro instead of her preferred 8-track player. She was sure that
8-track was here to stay. Oh well....

The idea of countries leapfrogging from agricultural to information-based
economies doesn't set well with me as it is presented here. Perhaps I
just don't have enough information to understand what Andrew is

The information age resulted from the manufacturing activities of the past
several decades. To simply skip over that stage of development can be
somewhat akin to taking primitive tribes who use crossbows to hunt and
fish and giving them M-16's. They may tend to use this advanced
technologically to club their food to death. They may also discover the
potential lethality of their new-found *tools* and learn how to this
technology to subduew their neighbors. These subservient neighbors then
have to do all of the hunting and fishing for these now-superior
tribespeople. This sounds great to many who would like to be in the
superior role. However, history has shown that those who arrive at this
position in this manner eventually fall and are forgotten because they
have no foundation for the continued prosperity of their culture other
than force.

My point is that skipping over the industrial/manufacturing stage
completely potentially prevents a solid foundation from forming upon which
to base the ultimate destination. Once this destination has been reached,
any turbulence can result in the destruction of that culture.

In other words, the technology is procured and the people trained in its
use so that they can function in an information-based economy. They
become fairly successful and prosperous. Then the technology changes.
The emerging equipment is so radically different that the old equipment is
immediately several years obsolete. The problem for this successful and
prosperous country is that th8is new technology is very expensive.
Because they haven't built any other economic base except agriculture,
they don't have the means to acquire this new technology.

Because this new technology is so much of an advancement over what was
before, they MUST have it in order to survive. What do they do? Do they
settle for being a second rate (or worse) economic power because they
can't compete? Do they form a partnership with companies or countries
that can provide them with this new technology which can (and too often
do) result in their becoming enslaved to that company or country as their
dependence upon this source of supply grows and deepens?

Again, perhaps I don't have enough information to fully understand
Andrew's proposition. What does anyone else think?

Clyde Howell
The Howell Group
Aiken, South Carolina, USA

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>