Tech & Work

Is business doomed by the Me Generation?


So many of today's workers have been programmed through whatever reasons, be it from boss intimidation or from raw ambition, to succeed personally no matter what the cost. Everyone is out to shine his own star, to maneuver the spotlight toward himself. The reasoning is, if they can make their own little corner of the business look good, then that's all they need. They are a success. "My department's numbers are good, so my job is done. I have made my mark." Well, the problem is, while this guy is making his mark, another employee is making her mark, but no one is connecting the marks. Business success relies on how well all of the pieces work together. Business success comes from knowing how this action will affect this outcome across the company. The sad truth is, unless it involves a bonus or a promotion, business success doesn't mean much to the average manager these days.

I see people with an instant need for gratification. I don't see the wisdom and the long-sightedness that I used to. There seems to be competition between departments in acompanies. Maybe I'm jaded because I once worked for a startup, that grew from about 15 employees to over a hundred. At that company, you could ask any employee what another department did and he or she would know. Our IT writers knew what terms like "payup" and "renewal" meant even though those were marketing terms. They knew because their goals and vision did not stop at their monthly editorial deadlines. They knew that the quality of their output affected renewals, and renewals affected the bottom line.

Nowadays, it seems like every attempt to ask for what you need is received as a personal affront or burden to another group. The mentality is, "Why should I help you be successful when I can use my time to further my own goals?" Well, duh, because if I'm successful and you're successful and Joe Schmo over in the Thingamajig department is successful, then the company is successful. And that's the ONLY way it can happen.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

44 comments
jgmsys@yahoo.com
jgmsys@yahoo.com

It starts at the top. When you have the "me" generation running the show, as is the case in most corporations these days, the only thing that matters is their own financial well-being. Everyone else pays the price for their greed. On top of that, the lower tiers of management wind up engaging in the same tactics, all from the greed that rolls downhill from the highest levels in the company. That insatiable greed is destroying everything, not just the corporate world. These people had better wake up and realize the damage they're doing. The hell with Wall St. What happened to integrity?

vsconsul
vsconsul

you are right of course, is is the ME that is counting the most. Trade Unions have become insurance companies (what is in it fore me?)and no longer are based on solidarity. We crawl into our little nests. And who cares for the rest? This time is a material Darwinian evolution. Only when each of us is satisfied will there be focus on what is beyond. Or when matter does not matter so much, than we care for each other. Do not worry though, the time definitely wil come. Do your practice, and all is coming.

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

...is one of character and values, not generation. There are complaints from both sides (management and employee). And both are similar. While I totally realize that the function of business is to make money, there are other factors invovled too. I think this is where the disconnect comes in. 1. A business culture that uses people as an asset like a desk or computer or paperclip misses the boat. A saying I heard quite frequently when I was in the military was "We manage people, and use things. We do not use people and manage things." (And yes, it was meant as a rebuke when said.) 2. How much money is enough? I believe in making money, and having enough to be comfortable even more than comfortable. But you have to draw a line somewhere. I think that was the Enron problem. Heck, if anyone cannot live on 7 million dollars a year, they are defective human beings, IMO. This is where I have the problem with the Lee Iacocca illustration. Yes, he did pull Chrysler out of the hole. But I also think the 100+ million dollar bonus he was given could have paid the salaries of the people that got laid off. (And yes, you can assume that I believe that corporations have moral obligations to their employees.) Oh yeah, just while I am ranting...if the company is in the red, no one in management gets a bonus, period! 3. People come to work for more reasons than just money. For most adults, because it is where the most consecutive time is spent, a job is also a place where higher needs are met. (And no, I am not talking about sex. Sex is a lower need.) Abraham Maslow pointed this out almost 60 years ago. People have basic needs that can be met through the workplace. An enlightened management will use this to their own advantage, producing motivated workers. This sounds spooky and manipulative, but you actually see it every day. Does your company have an awards program? Are high performers rewarded in some way? Then you are observing Maslow's level called "esteem needs." Everyone needs to be recognized and praised, especially by their peers. Does your company encourage "thinking outside the box" and being creative? This is Maslow's "self-actualization" level. Maslow based his theory on real people, not just other theories. If you are curious about what this theory is, try this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs Bottom line is, thinking only of the bottom line (personal or corporate) is a setup for failure.

Albion1
Albion1

Everything corporations have done over the last 20-30 years has created this culture of me-first and if it destroys corporations so much the better. Corporations started telling employees in the late 70s that they were superfluous and that they needed to look out for themselves. Hard work and Loyalty were irrelevant. Corporations violated the "social contract" concept that had built them and under which people had toiled beginning in the 30s. Corporation reinforced the notion of me-first and screw everyone else by promoting the outrageous salaries, options and benefits of their executives. Then telling employees to take cuts in salary and benefits "for the good of the corporation". Now corporations are saying "f*ck you" to employees and creating an even more competitive atmosphere amongst employees by outsourcing jobs to other countries.

bobwyzguy
bobwyzguy

Having worked in corporate American since 1977, I have witnessed the changes Albion describes, and he it correct. I can only assume Publishing Gal is a young idealist, or has had a wonderful boss. Having worked in the Telecom and IT world since 1990, I have personally worked for many companies where the goal was simply to enrich the management, and pull the rip cord on your golden parachute, and leave the workers and customers hanging. I've been laid off or downsized, or outsourced, or reorged too many time to count, and after 30 plus years of working, I have never worked anywhere longer than 3 and 1/2 years. Most of my past employers are out of business or have been acquired by companies that have themselves been acquired. If my boss, and management at the company I work for are going to be All About The Money, then so am I. I gave up sacrificing my life and family for the "good of the business" years ago. My family is still with me - the businesses are all gone.

lastchip
lastchip

I was a departmental manager 30+ years ago and this was active then. Tends to be more prevalent in larger companies, but not always.

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

..... but by posting in an open forum, you did, after all, extend an invitation. You said, [i]"So many of today's workers have been programmed through whatever reasons, be it from boss intimidation or from raw ambition, to succeed personally no matter what the cost."[/i] First of all, the term [i]"so many"[/i] is vague at best, meaningless at worst. What does that mean? Ninety-nine percent? Fifty percent? Twenty percent? Five percent? Second of all, your opening comment implies that it's a bad thing if a person wants to personally succeed. What's wrong with that? Besides, would you prefer the alternative and wish to see "so many" people personally fail "no matter what the cost"? And at what "cost" are your suggesting? What exactly does that mean? I searched the rest of your article for an explanation of that "cost", but to no avail. I suppose we might assume that you believe you are bearing the "cost" of the success of others. Well, contrary to a prevalent and false notion that's always being tossed around, the success of one person does not have to (nor does it usually) come at the cost of another's failure. The preverbal pie, so to speak, is not finite in size. You said, [i]"Everyone is out to shine his own star, to maneuver the spotlight toward himself."[/i] It sounds to me as though you're waiting for someone to shine YOUR star, and possibly hoping that others will "shine the spotlight" on you. It's called human nature, Toni. Whether one admits it or not, everyone acts in a self-serving manner and desires some sort of recognition. Even the act of recognizing others is, in a way, self-serving, albeit a win-win self-serving act. You said, [i]"The reasoning is, if they can make their own little corner of the business look good, then that's all they need. They are a success. 'My department's numbers are good, so my job is done. I have made my mark.' Well, the problem is, while this guy is making his mark, another employee is making her mark, but no one is connecting the marks."[/i]. No one is "connecting the marks"? I think you might be oversimplifying things a bit, or else your company (or your current environment that compelled you to write your article) would fail. If the "marks" weren't "being connected", that business would not be in existence. Look at it as a baseball team on which every individual player has "the ambition" to "make his mark". There's not a darn thing wrong with that; in fact, it's actually preferred. The pitcher has his job; the first baseman has his; and the outfielder has his. Sorry, but a guy on the pitcher's mound SHOULD focus on himself and his skills and his own success, and "make his mark" for both his self-serving interest and for the good of the team. The pitcher, in this case, is powerless to help the outfielder excel in his job. Both individual efforts are necessary for the success of the team. An outstanding individual effort by the outfielder (one whose ambition is to also shine!) can help the pitcher throw a no-hitter and help the team win. Without that individual effort, the whole team suffers. The managers and owners of the team are in charge of "connecting the individual marks", not each individual player. And in your case, if those "individual marks" weren't being connected, you simply wouldn't be there because the business would fail. Since you ARE there, we can surmise that it's not failing. You go on about a start-up company's culture versus that of an established company and complain that it's different. Well why shouldn't it be different? And in the case of those successful start-up companies, it SHOULD be different. Do you think the dynamics of Microsoft in 2006 is the same as it was in 1976? Of course not. If it was, it would have failed a long time ago, or it certainly wouldn't have become the "shining star" it has become. And I don't really believe that the software architects at Microsoft spend any time at all dwelling on sales or marketing -- and that's exactly as it should be. Ambition is a GOOD thing. Personal success is a GOOD thing. Focusing on one's task is a GOOD thing. One's quest to become a shining star is a GOOD thing. You see these things as bad, but they're not. There's an old saying that I first heard twenty or more years ago that says, if you don't like what's going on outside of you, the place to look for the answers and solutions is inside of you. If everything you see is as pessimistic and cynical as it appears in your article, I think you need to rotate your view about 180 degrees to help you figure out why.

florida_kes
florida_kes

I was writing a long diatribe about how the meaning of "success" in this country has been perverted into meaning nothing more than excelling at self-centered greed. But after reviewing your post, I think you have done an admirable job exemplifying what is wrong with the vast majority of corporate America today. Thanks for sharing!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

In a nutshell. Those words echo those of "so many" who have stopped here and complained about being a ghost at work, when it comes to being recognized. [i]"So many of today's workers have been programmed through whatever reasons, be it from boss intimidation or from raw ambition, to succeed personally no matter what the cost."[/i] Translated: " People at work kiss a$$ to get noticed and like to take credit for work I have done; I cannot get my work noticed." [i]Everyone is out to shine his own star, to maneuver the spotlight toward himself."[/i] Translated: "Someone is stealing my thunder" [i]"The reasoning is, if they can make their own little corner of the business look good, then that's all they need. They are a success. 'My department's numbers are good, so my job is done. I have made my mark.' Well, the problem is, while this guy is making his mark, another employee is making her mark, but no one is connecting the marks.".[/i] Translated: "My work is not recognized and someone else is sucking up and getting all the attention." Sorry, I dont mean to offer too much of a personal attack, you ar not alone in your views. I've seen the same complaint in any management, IT, sales, machineshop or loading dock job I've ever worked at. Some strive for higher personal goals than others, that 'dynamics' is the vehicle that keeps them driven whilst those such as yourself try to slow them down. While some push to do better, others wish everyone would just back up a bit so they'd be in front for once. In many cases it gets a bit out of hand or underhanded, but that's generally in youth and it mellows in time. Sometimes it takes a more dramatic, extroverted approach to protect ones positive drive from the draw of the passive and in the process people are offended. You seem to have missed; we all have a different perception of success. Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile dream. We all have different dreams. So to answer my title question... Who are you to define sucess? You are the ONLY one who can define success; but only YOUR success.

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

...that you see success and "self-centered greed" as synonymous. I don't. I suppose it should come as no surprise that you read something I did not write; we speak a different language.

bobwyzguy
bobwyzguy

Maxwell - good to hear from you again! Always to the point. I have been saying for a long while now that the decline of American Business, if such a thing really exists, owes itself to the creation of the MBA degree. Used to be, you build the best product you could, or delivered the best service possible, or both, and you became fabulously wealthy as an outcome of selling your superior product or service. Now its all about managing to the numbers, and corporate versions of three card monte, where this division is spun off, or this company is acquired, to create a tax loss or gain to create the appearance of profits, where none really exist in any sustainable fashion. Most business managers I have known personally had little imagination or ability beyond playing around with Excel spreadsheets until the numbers "looked good." And most businesses seemed to be determined to turn out generic crap at the lowest possible cost, in the believe that "branding" and "positioning" and other marketing stuff could overcome their dismal failure to produce something truly valuable. Most of us go to work hoping for something more meaningful than just the paycheck. but I personally have a hard time getting fired up to be a shining star in a sea of mediocrity, so I just put my head down, swallow hard, and do what I need to do to take care of feeding my family.

SlappyMcnasty
SlappyMcnasty

I understanding of this article was more of the "It is not my problem" attitude that seems to be more common today. How many times have we all been passed a problem from someone that claimed it wasn't treir's? How many times have these problems turned out to be their's? How many projects have we been on where the solution skipped some obvious requirement because "that isn't the issue we are trying to solve"? How many times have those other issues then spawned a new projects to correct the issue? Personal success and ambition are good qualities to have, if and only if those qualities are applied to the whole. I'll take a average coder that takes a holistic view of the environment and thinks about requirements over the superstar coder that cranks out flawless code that follows requirements verbatim.

Toni Bowers
Toni Bowers

Maxwell, you couldn't have picked a better metaphor for MY argument. If individual team members weren't aware of the ultimate goal--to win the game--then what good would individual talents be? It doesn't do any good to have outstanding players if you neve win a game. You say, "An outstanding individual effort by the outfielder (one whose ambition is to also shine!) can help the pitcher throw a no-hitter and help the team win." I agree. But note that in your own example, the outfielder is making an effort that helps the pitcher in his goal, which ultimately aids the bigger goal--winning. And I must address, "if you don't like what's going on outside of you, the place to look for the answers and solutions is inside of you. If everything you see is as pessimistic and cynical as it appears in your article, I think you need to rotate your view about 180 degrees to help you figure out why." Good heavens, I thought I was commenting on a particular business phenomenon. I looked back at my post and I didn't see the words, "Everything around me sucks; the world is coming to an end; woe is me." I am expressing my displeasure at the understanding on the part of many people that personal ambition does not involve company success. In fact, if your actions aid company success as well as your own, then you are truly successful.

RFink
RFink

Continuing your metaphor. The typical baseball player has no loyality to the team. When his contract expires he's on the free agent market selling his services to the highest bidder. A main reason a player wants to shine is the next contract or performance bonuses in the current contract. "Show me the money!" is what it's all about. Given the corporate world today, all employees need that attitue to survive. Nice guys don't finish last, they finish broke.

Toni Bowers
Toni Bowers

Still, and to shift sports metaphors here: Where/who do you think Brett Favre would rather be--an outstanding quarterback on the 1997 Super Bowl winning team, or an outstanding quarterback on a team with no defense having a miserable season? I think a winner is more of a winner if his "team" is winning.

FBuchan
FBuchan

ENRON is just one of many examples of the deadly effect of self-centred management. The resulting new rules all businesses are struggling with resulted from a criminal disregard for ethical management, to say the least. While I would tend to agree that ambition is a good thing, the analogy you made to baseball is easily turned to show that ambition can be negative. Consider the star player whose salary demands undercut the teams ability to generate new talent. Is it the player's fault for getting what they can? No. Is it the managers fault for giving in? If the star player is good, and can raise the present team to world series status, how can you fault them? The problem, of course, is five years later when the star is no longer worth anything to the team, even abandoning them won't buy back the team-building losses of the five year term. The road back to success is made longer by the shortcut taken. In retrospect many business decisions smack of short-term vision. Any manager who ignores that entitlement in members of a team can have a negative impact, isn't managing for the future, any more than would be a manager who refused to engage the stars. Balance is the key to long-term viability. That said, what the original poster was examining was the scenario where there is no evident balance. Arguing details to ignore the intent doesn't seem a worthy response to the issue raised. It isn't a generational issue, though, and that needs to be said. Its an issue of complicated interactions between businesses managed by short-term views, and employees often challenged by a poor work ethic. The blame is shared, and the end result is a downward spiral, because it is impossible to fix the one aspect of the relationship unless the other is fixed simultaneously. It may be that the poster should look at themselves, or it may be they are in a place where the balance is shifting from shared goals to individualistic goals, which are always going to be shorter in term and narrower in successful application. Regardless, the comment this is attached below reads as being defensive, and tells as much about its poster as the original article. And, in turn, my comment probably tells something about me. The chain of responsibility begins with self, and not taking that responsibility seriously explains the state of individuals within businesses and whole businesses today.

Onamission
Onamission

You said: "And I don't really believe that the software architects at Microsoft spend any time at all dwelling on sales or marketing -- and that's exactly as it should be." And I say your Wrong! Would you design your Number 1 product without any thought to how your customers will like it? And if they'll even buy it? I would hope not.

SlappyMcnasty
SlappyMcnasty

I see a sense of entitlement in todays young employees. My personal experience has been that a lot of the kids coming into business today have never needed to work. They come from two income families and lived a yuppie upbringing. They never wanted and mom and dad made sure they provided a "better" life than they had. That resulted in an "easier" child hood of less responsibility and more protection. Over the years of have started to discriminate a little in hiring. If I get to applicants that are equal, I look at where they came from. So far, going with the farm kid has worked out well. They have a work ethic in place from getting up at 5:30 their whole life to milk cows.

C L Kerr
C L Kerr

Can't agree more about the farm kids.. There is a quote "the life of an idealist is a PAINFUL existense." Some people care way more than others, some are more self centered".. After being with a MAAjor airline IT for 16 years, I can see a drop in skills, experience, loyalty and work ethic... Maybe this is one of the reasons that older workers are making a comeback in some areas of our economy! Just because ther was 2-3 peices of sleet falling from the Texas sky, these folks could not even show up to work. Babies! Good job Publishing Gal!

shraven
shraven

A lot of what you say is right on, people are entirely focused on themselves in every aspect, from their driving habits to their expectations of government to the way they conduct themselves at their place of employment. But one thing you said highlights some of the cause in the business arena: "The sad truth is, unless it involves a bonus or a promotion, business success doesn't mean much to the average manager these days." The flip side of that coin is that for most business activity, unless it involves higher profits or higher stock value, employee loyalty doesn't mean much to the average business decision these days. Why should an employee sell their soul for a company that really doesn't care if they exist or not? Employees are completely expendable assets. In that environment employees are probably right to get what they can for themselves while it's available. The business certainly isn't looking out for them so they have to look out for themselves first. Just as employees can be replaced, so can employers. When there are so few good places left to work, every employer becomes "just a job". It's a downward spiral that both sides need to work on fixing.

L Squared
L Squared

The details may change, but the problem remains. Business/Government/whatever is made up of people, and people are flawed. It is not a "me generation" issue. The corporate CEOs are demonstrating a highly refined strain of me-ism. The "captains of industry" are doing their very best to maximize their wealth and minimize the income of the workers. People of all ages and generations have had a destructive tendency to think only of themselves. Some call it original sin. Blaming someone else for the problems misses the point. What we need are structures with checks, blances and accountability for EVERYONE. Whenever anyone feels the rules don't apply to them, you've got problems. http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=269301 In addition, you need the rules to maximize more than this quarter's profits. You need to include long-term growth and the impact on the community, the environment and the employees. This is a human problem as old as history, and only rarely do we humans find ways to overcome it.

jenueheightz
jenueheightz

Perhaps the reason people in the current generation are unwilling to consider the overall wellbeing of the company as the last generation's companies don't consider their wellbeing? The job for life era is gone and employees are aware that most jobs are now temporary, until the next round of downsizing and restructuring leaves them looking for another employer.

thador
thador

Blaming the ME generation, what is that? I work hard for my company, I do good work, and pull the hours necessary, but after being laid off and treated badly by employers in the past, tell you what, it IS about ME! I will work hard for a company that treats me well in return. There are no jobs for life. All positions are temporary. I have to look ahead for that new position, not because I'm ready to move, but because there's certainly not going to be loyalty on the side of my employer when the time comes. Any employer.

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

When I was younger, and my dad worked for Digital, ever year Ken Olson would rent Kanobi Lake Park (an amusement park in New Hampshire; I probably spelled it wrong) and have a family day for all employees. The entire amusement park rides were free, and lunch was provided by DEC, too. As I remember listening to my dad and his friends, DEC was a great place to work for. At least in Maynard at the time, there was high esprit. It seemed that the corporate culture valued family and loyalty to the company. Fast forward to the present. Like others have said, the attitude is maximum monetary gain for me, screw employees. This is sad, and doesn't speak well for our corporate culture. The problem is not the GenXer's or young kids. Its the Baby Boomers. They are the ones who are CEOs, CFOs, etc etc. They are the ones setting the corporate culture, not the young guys. The purpose of a corporation is to provide dividends to the stockholders. There is nothing wrong with that. But while in the process of making enough profit to provide a dividend, other considerations are important too. The Dilbert of a few days ago made me laugh, but its also a sad commentary too. The CEO of the company had a question and answer session with the employees about the huge loss the company posted when they were forced to use the correct numbers in their accounting. Wally asks the CEO if he is going to return his 25 million dollar bonus since the company now is in the red. Its never stated, but you know what the answer would be! That is the perfect example of someone putting self ahead of whole...and unfortunately, we have lots of people doing just that. And I am not talking socialism either...just ethical management and ethical business practices.

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

You can also look at all the "amusement park" benefits that employees of Ford and GM used to enjoy, but those came in the form of generous medical and retirement benefits, not to mention huge salaries for routine workers. It now means that a guy making $20 an hour is paying out the nose for a car built by assembly line workers making $40 an hour. And it means that the cost of that worker's generous medical benefit costs that car buyer an additional $1,500. And it means that the generous retirement package costs that car buyer an additional $2,500. And it means the corporations are hemorrhaging money. GM is going into the red by billions of dollars every year, losing money quarter after quarter. What's the greater cause of that? A two million dollar salary for the CEO, or the billions and billions of dollars paid out to the employees in the form of overly-generous benefit packages? And it also means that the foreign competition (Toyota) has a huge advantage. Companies are no longer offering those overly-generous benefit packages, not because they don't value their employees, but because they do. How can a bankrupt company that goes out of business help its employees? By the way, what happened to Digital Equipment Corporation? That's a rhetorical question, by the way, because I know the answer. But for those who don't, Digital Equipment Corporation found themselves literally drowning in red-ink and they were forced to merge with another corporation for the very survival of their product (and to avoid laying-off absolutely EVERYBODY). Perhaps they bought too many amusement park rides. Edited for this interesting side-note: For those of you who "compassionately" advocate -- and/or voted for -- an increase in the national minimum wage for the insignificant 900,000 minimum wage workers in the USA, you just gave those assembly-line workers another raise! (And increased the cost of your next new automobile.)

Whatserface
Whatserface

So it was the irresponsible spending/planning that made the CEO worth $2 million a year. I see...

Whatserface
Whatserface

Why can't the executive take less than $2 million a year? What does a CEO do that makes him or her worth that much? $2 million can pay for a lot of minimum wage workers.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

"Take what they are givn and like it." I see it all the time in the music industry. I can't begin to name all the bands I know that have released demo tracks as 'special recordings' and made a mint in the US with them. 'If it doesn't sell overseas, it will sell in the US' is the rule of thumb. That's what everything gets relased in Europe and then brought here, If it's a complete flop in Europe, a catchy cover change will see it sell in North America. The industry here is so full of garbage that people will but anything, in search of quality. I mean when you were a kid, would you have been listening to Enrique Iglesias? Of course not,what kid wants to hear that crap? But force feed the children and they gobble it up while asking for more.

RFink
RFink

Oz_Media, You're right. Iaccoca did a great job. I'm refering to the attitude of "The American public will take what we give them and like it." That attitude existed in the 70's and that is what gave the Japanese the opening they needed. Iaccoca was the first person to realize the mistake.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Lee Iacocca kept Chrysler alive. He was the one who pulled them out of bankruptcy bu utilizing the K-Car body style for both th K-car and teh LeBaron, different trim package same body. He then standardized all parts, a Dodge Omni/Plumouth Horizon had the same alternator, starter, shocks, etc. as the K-Car and LeBaron. This saved millions in R&D while they were cash strapped. Chrysler then developed the MINIVAN, woohoo, and out of debt they were.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I have yet to see proof. [i]Finally, with all due respect, i don't agree that the Japanese "stole" market share with economic vehicules. [/i] You're right, it was a poor choice of words; they built a far, far better product. [i]I also don't buy the idea that the American civic cannot be built. If the Japanese can do it, so can the Americans.[/i] :) [i][b]CAN[/b][/i] being the operative word. North American auto manufacturer's had problems understanding the word, unibody. Pinto, Festiva, Focus, Neon, Horizon, Omni, PACER, charger/nova (80's) etc. Sure, we can build a worthy compact car that competes on a level field with Honda's Civic. Why don't we? Cost. Consumers in North America will not pay mroe for a more efficient car, the trend has began ever so slowly but is not seeing the same industry growth it does in Europe. As far as what European cars being equal to the US models. I was referring to manufacturers that build the same car, different name but with a more efficient engine in Europe. Ford makes many cars in the US and Canada that have a clone in Europe. The clone in Europe boasts a more fuel efficient/more expnsiv but better quality motor in the US model. Take the 4.0L V6 with the SOHC that was engineered in Cologne, Germany. In North America Ford used a US made SOHV model instead. It was less heat efficient, burned more fuel and generatd nearly 65HP less than the European model (65 FEWER HORSES !!). By 1976, the SOHC was adopted as an option (Eddie Bauer and Limited Ed.) in US Ford Exporers, a year later production shut down, too little too late. They now make a clone, a little less power than the Cologne engine, 203hp, but it's not as efficient (thinner block) or durable. A more recent comparison would be Ford's adoption of Mazda's cd3 platform for European cars, it is now slowly being adopted into North American models as it will be integrated into new hybrid models. Retaining personal income dictates everything here, it is far more important than emissions, efficiency, awareness etc.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

TO take the worst offender of poor emissions and fuel conomy and make it more economical. It's not a test, they are in full production and have been for a couple of years now.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Ford is not necessarily in less trouble, GM started the restructuring process first, and has taken the hit earlier than Ford. Though neither company can sit back and be able to say that they are out of the woods. As for the Shelby Mustang, it wasn't as much effort as you might think. They already had a Mustang GT created, with a sports handling package. The engine came from the Ford GT supercar. It was simply a matter of putting the two together. BTW one of my coworker owns one. It is less expensive than a Corvette, and much less than a Viper. As for the Hybrid SUV thats easy. You nhave to remember that cars have long development cycles and it takes longer for hybrids. At the time they did the planning, they looked at small SUVs because they sold well. The Escape had the advantage of being sold with either a 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder engine, so they knew they had a vehicle that could run on less horsepower than the 6 cyl. It was easier to retrofit the batteries into a a larger vehicle than a smaller one. Notice Toyota has two SUV hybrids - the Highlander and Lexus rx400h. I agree that the Japanese earned their way into the market, and the Koreans are doing the same. China won't make headway into the market until their quality as good as the Big 3, but thats a moving target. James

RFink
RFink

During the late 70's and early 80's American cars were crap. If a car lasted five years you were lucky. The Japanese did the American public a favor, they forced the American car companies to produce a quality product. If the American car companies would have made a decent car from day one the Japanese car companies would not a gotten a foot hold in our market.

Zen37
Zen37

But i disagree with your metaphor. I believe that taking care of your employees "moral" is not irresponsible spending.

Zen37
Zen37

with you on most points. It may explain why Ford seem to be less in trouble than GM. But there are things happening that seem to make me ask what the engineers are thinking. They just came out with a 500HP Mustang. I don't remember the amount of liters (or gallons) the engine was but i remember it was insane. What are they thinking working on a car that few people will be able to afford to buy or use. Same thing with the Hybrid SUV. Of all the vehicules to use for their Hybrid research, why a SUV? I don't get that. These are Ford exemples, but GM is guilty of the same, and maybe even worst. As far as comparing the North American car to the Europeen conterparts, most Europeen cars i know are luxury vehicules. You cannot compare Ford to BMW or Mercedes. I personnaly believe that you cannot compare a Cadillac to a Europeen car. What company are you refering to? I would be curious to check it out. Finally, with all due respect, i don't agree that the Japanese "stole" market share with economic vehicules. They took their share, fair and square by providing a product that people want. I also don't buy the idea that the American civic cannot be built. If the Japanese can do it, so can the Americans.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

While you are partially right in your analogy of the declinme of US automakers, you are also somewhat incorrect too. I am a Ford Engineer (by trade)have been a Ford Salesman and mechanic, so I keep up to date with the beaurocratic BS they have faced over the last 12 or so years I've been licesed with Ford. Yes Japanese auto manufacturers were stealing US auto business due to fuel economy but that was a key issue IN THE 70's. This went on right through the 80s as well, us ayo makers TRIED a compact car but weigth and materials were a major issue and they just couldn't pull off an American Civic. In the 90's the inudustry changed again, SUV's were hip, despite teh fact that all trucks used ot come with medium to large V8's, SUV's were coming out with the small V6's that were far more efficient (not just in mileage but the actual burning processes of tehe fuel improved). They can make them burn even mroe efficiently, but at quite a cost. Look at the equivalent European models of our North American cars, they are FAR more efficient than ours, they cost more, are made with more expensive materials, have lower emissions and get more actual energy out of a litre of gas than ours do. Ford has been one of the frst develop and design a Hybrid SUV, and they will be the first to manufacture such cars in North America with a plant scheduled to open in Eastern Canada in the next two years. So while once they did play catch-up, they are now keeping pace and even leading in some areas of the market. Now lets look at the efficiency of our workers and assembly lines. Ford closed major product plants in the US, not so much due to Japanese markets but the ridiculous cost of labour and the benefits the union employees have always pushed for. Most of those same vehicles are being manufactured in Canada or doubled up at other specialty model plants. I've been active in the Autoworkers union and know first hand that everything that is supported, is understood by MAYBE 10% of the workers. Others just jump on board because they hear "more money" but don't consider the downside, peer pressure. Most workers have very little actual market or industry knowledge, besides what is printed in the Union newsletters, which is also quite a sketchy, propaganda story based on truth but focused on half-truths and opinions. This leaves workers defending what they believe, but don't understand; in many cases resulting in lost jobs, higher operating costs and higher prices with less R&D available for improvement.

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

....was a combination joke and metaphor for irresponsible spending/planning. (I wouldn't have thought that it would require an explanation.)

Zen37
Zen37

GM and Ford did make a huge mistake when they started giving away benefits that they knew would cost millions. And i am the son of a retired GM worker. I know for a fact what they get. But the main problem of GM and Ford right now is not as much as they cannot pay the benefits they promised as they are losing market share buy the day. People are not buying gas guzzlers anymore. The Japanese know and understand that. They have an amazing environmental policy and build their cars accordingly. GM and Ford are guilty of a lack of vision, both in the market and benefits. You know what, Of all the things that brought Digital down, i doubt very much the cost of that family day amusement park was really a factor. It's a little gesture that meant a lot for the people.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

You hit the head of the nail. Most companies are looking for the max $ with min payout. They sucker punch their employees of long time to get newer, lower cost employees. If the companies are not looking out for their employees, why the heck should the employees feel that helping the company is #1, unless incentives are given.

Onamission
Onamission

And one of those incentives should be longevity aka Job Security. But that requires a well run organization and a well run organization requires people who care about the organization and people who care about the organization will do there best. See where this is going? It's circular folks. So if you are doing your job to the best of your ability then you are holding up your piece of the circle. There are no guarantees that anyone else is going to do the same. All you have at the end of the day is You've Done Your Best for the Organization and that's all the real satisfaction you can expect. Anyway, I suppose the point is that the "Me" attitude can be infectious if you are not careful. If you are a Manager in an organization you can help. If your Department is doing well offer assistance to one that isn't. IT in particular is in a wonderful position to help people out of these situations. They may not know your helping but, you will. And at the end of the day isn't that what it's all about.

BlackMagixCustoms
BlackMagixCustoms

Trust me. The "Me" generation is going to cost companies a lot of money - making stupid, self-serving decisions and whatnot. The companies ultimately lose out...and perhaps when they start to see their profit margin thinning out, they'll stop thinking of the previous generations as "old dogs" who can't be easily taught new tricks. There's nothing that can compare to a couple of years of on the job experience - yet companies choose to hire "young blood" fresh out of college with no time in the field to speak of (because fixing your mom's AOL doesn't count as experience). Some of the younger people getting hired are very deserving of their jobs and are incredibly skilled at what they do. But most of the time the attitude is all wrong - especially for customer service positions...

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Just as we generally mellow with age, chalk it up to experience and knowing better, no longer needing to get noticed or what have you; this happens in employees too. When I began a sales career over 20 years ago, I was a 16 year old, snot nosed punk that could sell ice cubes to eskimos. Joinng a company with many far older and more experienced salesmen, I was first seen as the youngster with lots to learn. After proving my abilities, and eventually becoming thier manager, they started to see me in a different light. All of a sudden I was a youngster but in a good way. People saw me as being very successful as I got older, I was said to be very astute and skilled in understanding people and psychology etc. A few years later, I was hiring the young punks myself (by this time, several job changes later of course). I was then looking at new kids as young and unskilled, would roll my eyes and wonder how they would ever get to where they needed to be. Sure most didn't cut it, but many did and some of them are still contacts now, they always seem look up to me for the help I offered them and the guidance as they learned new skills. It's a real pat on the back really. So I guess as we grow older and, hopefully, wiser in our ways, get more industry knowledge etc. We see everyone else as a young puke, but really forget how we were once that guy too. Struggling to prove himself in a world where you are doubted from the get go. Yes, many of these newbies really are young pukes that will get nowhere. Over zealous, wanting to change the world around us etc. But lets not discount them because of their eagerness and willingness to be new and different. Sometimes new and different is exactly what we need, if it is a temporary expense, so be it. In the long run, our hiring choices wil be the future of our companies and we will soon reap the rewards. It's not really any different than when I see some goof in baggy jeans and untied sneakers, trying to be cool. When I was a kid, loking like that would get your a$$ kicked in a hurry; I was never a young punk like that....or was I? Yup, dad thought I was a young punk, jeans, leather jacket, long hair and boots, even my older brother thought so, as we always look at the next generation and wonder what makes them tick. I say lets welcome the youth, lets welcome inexperience, lets welcome fresh talent and new ideas, no matter how wrong it may feel. We can always learn something new, we can alays mentor someone, we can always gain from the knowledge of others even when we see it as a lack of knowledge. young punks? bring em on, but if they don't conform, they move on. Do you really expect these people to want to stay in YOUR job for thier lives? No, they aren't complacent like old farts. Kids get antsy, excited and move on, hopefully taking with them something you have given them that they can use in life. And the moral of this story is? I don't know, I just felt like seeing kids as people for a change. :)

jdmercha
jdmercha

the more they remain the same. This is just a new label for an ever existing problem. It does not mean that business is doomed, or it would have happened already. There are enough people in the "Me" generation that do not have the "Me" generation attitude. They will rise above the rest to run businesses like thay have always been run.

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