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Entries in The Right Stuff (4)

Thursday
Mar132008

Right Stuff - Part 3

CreativeIntelligence.jpgIn our conversation with The Colonel, we reached a crossroad yesterday, lets see where we turn.

Q- Colonel, are you implying that technology is becoming the Right Stuff?

A- Technology is a tool to empower the individual, it can also be a tool that can easily camouflage shortcomings, its a tool that can be used as a convenient excuse. The Right Stuff is an individual, a person, a human intellect with passion and emotions.

Q- The person is the Right Stuff!

A- Absolutely, and only the person, not the technology, never the technology.

Q- There is technology out there that is pretty smart, that can save time, money, increase productivity.

A- I have been a proponent of technology for many years, and I will remain a strong believer in technology. I am also a strong believer that the better technology gets, the better the individual needs to get.

Q- That sounds simplistic!

A- Its so simple that its scary! Technology disseminates knowledge, empowers, compresses time, saves money, shrinks the planet, I better stop. Do we hide behind the technology which is easy to do, or do we step out in front of the technology.

Q- What do you mean?

A- When you have the Right Stuff you step out in front of the technology, you put your behind on the line, you still have a fire in the belly.

Q- Is there a possibility that people might become intellectually lazy?

A- That is a loaded statement! There is the risk that people might become subservient to technology. There is the possibility that large corporations cultivate an atmosphere where technology has a leadership position.

Q- Could you elaborate?

A- We have all been reading about the credit situation in North America, the few that are not directly embroiled in this situation were considered exceptions a few years ago. The folks that made decisions not to get embroiled had the Right Stuff. The technology was directing everyone in a different direction.

Q- How about the automotive industry?

A- The Japanese had numerous challenges to initially get into the North American market, the quickly understood what the Right Stuff was all about, and they nurtured and cultivated the Right Stuff. To the point that when the folks with the Right Stuff at the established manufacturers started retiring no one was prepared to take over.

Q- You hear all over the place that its more demanding, its more challenging, there is more change today?

A- Agreed that its more demanding, and success is more elusive....by how much. If technology can do a myriad of routine tasks and free up time, the human intellect should have an increased opportunity to flourish.

We will continue....hopefully next week.

 

Wednesday
Mar122008

Right Stuff - Part 2

ai.jpgLets move along with our questions, if you just joined take a few minutes to review the previous entries.

Q- We get the impression that through the years there has been an erosion of the "right stuff"?

A- You are correct.

Q- What happened? When did it start?

A- Technology.

Q- Technology, what do you mean?

A- Technology has benefited as well as eroded the evolution of the "right stuff". Today the technology is front and centre, with individuals espousing the technology as a normal way of conducting business. Technology is supposed to make it better.

Q- Hasn't technology made many aspects of the industry simpler, expedited and accelerated the decision process, improved the control of numerous variables, overall its easier, simpler, faster?

A- Several years ago I read that technology was no competition or substitute for the human brain and intellect. When folks espouse strong levels of technology in the automotive industry there is an "intellectual disconnect" that occurs.

Q- Can you elaborate? Intellectual disconnect?

A- Simple....what becomes the "right stuff" the individual or the technology?

Q- Could it be that in 2008 the "right stuff" is a blend of both?

A- You guys are correct....in 2008 the "right stuff" is an individual tethered to technology, a business tethered to technology.

Q- What's wrong with that picture?

A- Nothing at all...perhaps we are reaching the point where the individual is possibly becoming subservient to the technology. The "right stuff" is no longer the individual, its the "software" in the technology that overshadows the individual.

Q- Isn't this phenomenon occurring across most activities, and businesses these days...where technology is almost overshadowing the individual. In many cases technology has made dramatic improvements, and unlocked value.

A- I agree wholeheartedly with you guys, society has made substantial progress empowered by technology. I firmly believe that we will make additional progress in the future. I also have reservations!

Q- You have reservations about what?

A- I have reservations that technology is leading the individual, and not the individual using technology as a tool.

We will continue...

 

Tuesday
Mar112008

Right Stuff - Part 1

pool_balls.jpgFrom yesterday we have this "car guy" that has an innate understanding of cars and the car business. Lets continue our conversation...

Q- When Sam Walton started Wal-Mart wasn't he looking for individuals with passion to run his stores?

A- In the pre technology days, everyone was looking for individuals with passion, fire, confidence, fortitude,and not afraid to put their behinds on the line. That's what made an dramatic difference in the level of success a business experienced.

Q- Can you give us examples?

A- Briefly...in the late 1960's Detroit was the place for cars on the planet, GM was the company for cars, there were several people at GM that had the passion, fire, self confidence, and in some cases egos to make it happen at that time. Look at Detroit Iron from the late 60's which today is 40 years old....its a reflection of those folks with the passion.

Q- More examples please...

A- Manufacturer's wanted individual dealers, they wanted the individual with passion, fire, self confidence that would put his behind on the line....

Q- Are you saying that this passion, fire, self confidence was pervasive across the entire automotive industry?

A- Not all...but it was pervasive enough to create an image and personality for the "car guy", lets be candid there were different versions of the "car guy".

Q- You are saying that these car guys had the Right Stuff or were the Right Stuff!

A- Overall yes...like everything else not all of them...some had better aptitudes than others, some had more insight...there was always a level of passion.

Q- How widespread was this "right stuff" phenomenon?

A- In the late 50's and 60's when the Japanese were attempting to create a presence in North America one barrier was access to these "car guys/right stuff" which were all taken by the established manufacturers.

Q- Are you saying that at the time securing people with the "right stuff" was a crucial element for success?

A- Absolutely! There is a reason for the pool ball photo!!!

We will continue....

 

Monday
Mar102008

Right Stuff

right_stuff.jpgWe have been picking The Colonel's mind on a few occasions over a variety of issues that often appear out of nowhere. These conversations are always insightful and thought provoking, and we have shared several on our blog.

Our conversation (white paper) on Wash Out piqued the interest, and provoked increased reflection on the pricing of vehicles in Canada.

The other day we asked The Colonel what is The Right Stuff to be in the car business? We thought it was a simple question which suddenly took on a new meaning for us. Join us in this conversation...

Q- Colonel is there such a thing as the Right Stuff?

A- Guys...this is a loaded question with a multifaceted answer. In brief yes there is such a thing as the Right Stuff in this business.

Q- From where would you start to give us a response, since its a loaded question.

A- What else is new? You have to start in the good ole days, lets call them the good ole days of pre technology.

Q- Are you trying to put a "red herring" in our path (change the subject)?

A- Not all all...if you have a passion for cars you are in the right direction to acquire the Right Stuff...lets call it a burning passion, with fire in the belly to work and play in the car business.

Q- Burning passion, fire in the belly....Can you explain?

A- You need a burning passion to truly understand cars, to understand their emotional and aspirational attraction. Its what most people identified as the "car guy"....the "car guy" was passionate. Fire in the belly is the ability to execute the passion, working and playing is the ability to make money. 

Q- That's it?

A- You wish! This person now needs self confidence.

Q- Self Confidence...what do you mean?

A- The ability to make decisions that come from the passion and fire in the belly, and take responsibility for the decisions. It used to be called "putting your behind on the line"...

Q- Are you saying that this "car guy" had this innate sense of what the business, cars, customers, and making money was all about?

A- Exactly...took the words out of my mouth.

We will continue....