Letters to the Editor for June 2008

May 15, 2008
Questions to ask politicians; how to establish success criteria and practical innovation

More Litmus Test Questions for Politicians

> Editor's Note: In his column last month, Editor-In-Chief Dave Blanchard invited readers to add their questions to his "Manufacturer's Litmus Test for Politicians." Here are some of their suggestions:

"What is your position on the Employee Free Choice Act (HR 800)?"

-- Jeff Imes, COO
W.P. Hickman Co.
Asheville, N.C.

"How will you focus on and address infrastructure projects?"

-- Dallas Robinson
Terra Nitrogen

  1. What do you propose to do policywise to help high school students and younger workers upgrade their knowledge and skills so they can qualify for the more technical jobs being developed by U.S. manufacturers?
  2. What incentives would you propose to assist incumbent, older and/or laid-off workers acquire the 21st century knowledge and skills they need to qualify for continued employment?
  3. What new policies would you support to build an innovation-to-commercialization superhighway so that U.S. manufacturers can produce a constant stream of new and valuable products for the global marketplace?

-- Fred Wentzel
senior adviser for industry and government relations
National Council for Advanced Manufacturing
Washington, D.C.

What Are the Chinese Doing With Those Nuclear Reactors?

> Re: "Whatever Happened to Quality?" Apr. 2008

I was initially startled by the second-largest category of imports from China: "nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and parts." I assume the vast majority of that category is machinery and parts, of all types, not just related to nuclear reactors or boilers, right?

Jeff Wick, CEO
Wick Building Systems Inc.
Mazomanie, Wis.

Establishing Success Criteria

> Re: "The Future of R&D," May 2008

The way to assure that your company's new product development efforts are headed in the right direction is for a select, cross-functional, executive team to establish "success criteria" in advance, delineating the characteristics of the ideal new product line, ranked in order of importance.

These criteria then also serve as benchmarks for rapidly evaluating any concept proposed from any source.

Frederick Buggie
Strategic Innovations International Inc.
Lake Wylie, S.C.

Practical Innovation

> Re: Innovation is No Longer a Choice -- It is about Death or Glory

Innovation is clearly very important when it comes to positioning your organization so that it survives the future. Two points come out of this:

  1. Innovation has to be cost-effective. It's no good putting millions into a product that has no hope of realizing its potential. The market may be too small and challenged.
  2. The solution you choose needs to be efficiently executed. Prevarication will just lead to a massive case of self-indulgence that leads nowhere. Innovation still needs to be focused and expertly executed.

Rob Wendes
London, England

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