Dec. 21, 2004

"Best practices and better ideas know no national boundaries," IW Senior Editor John McClenahen has said. In such a world, where multinational manufacturers freely borrow and adapt technology developments and management techniques across cultural and political borders, the challenge of today's global managers is simply to keep up with the idea flow. Leading companies have formally recognized this effort to manage and cultivate intellectual assets within the organization, known as "knowledge management," as key to future competitiveness and profitability. Equipped with the latest information technology, these companies can find, sift through, catalog, refine, and share ideas with an efficiency only dreamed of 10 years ago. This technology has also brought us the Internet, a metaphor in itself for the knowledge free-for-all outside the corporate realm. Of course, we at IndustryWeek dedicate every issue to best manufacturing practices. We feature the successful team-building efforts, smart product-development programs, new cost-reduction principles, and cutting-edge production strategies of manufacturers and the visionaries who lead them. The IW 100 Best-Managed Companies and America's Best Plants programs, in tandem with the Census of Manufacturers and IW 1000 ranking of global manufacturers, are our most systematic efforts at rooting out the top performers and the best practices they employ. Charts: Three-Time Best-Managed Companies Best Plants of All Time Plant Profile, Customer and Supplier Relations, Technology IW 1000

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