By Sarah A. Webster
Editor in Chief
"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."
I don’t know when W. Edwards Deming first made that remark, but his words ring as true now as they probably did then. The words probably even ring a bit louder today, after the Great Recession, and as the forces of globalization continue charging ahead.
But change is undeniably difficult—for individuals, teams, and organizations.
It’s only human nature. While our rational mind knows change is inevitable and even life-preserving, our emotional side resists being removed from its well-built comfort zones.
As I join Manufacturing Engineering as the new Editor in Chief, I am leaving my cocoon of comfort. I’ve spent the past 17 years building a career as a reporter and editor in newspapers. The past eight of those have been at the Detroit Free Press, where I’ve had the mixed blessing of overseeing coverage of the financial and automotive crisis of the past few years. It’s been a firsthand lesson in change-or-die. I’ve met those who made it, many of those who didn’t, and people who have struggled in between.
Now, it’s my job to bring some changes to Manufacturing Engineering—this trusted, valued resource of Society of Manufacturing Engineers members.
It’s unclear what all those changes will be just yet, but the goal is to preserve the exclusive, trusted technical content we provide for high-level manufacturing engineers—through the monthly magazine, newsletters, and industry yearbooks—and bring even more valuable information to members in new ways for this technology-driven era.
Ultimately, I hope to surprise and delight you with the changes.
Walking around FABTECH in Chicago this week was a constant reminder of how important change is for Manufacturing Engineering as one attendee after another clicked away on their smart phone or handheld computer tablet.
Many of the exhibitors there put change on display, with new innovations to work around the shortage of US technical workers to fill vacant jobs. From automated welding innovations to new control systems that are easier to program, companies all over the show were innovating as a work-around to address a shortage of skilled workers, a sad, ironic reality in this stretch of high unemployment.
I wonder what Deming, who died in 1993, would have thought of this resource mismatch and this fast-moving, high-tech global economy. Given that his system advocated constant change, constant improvement, as a way of life, I’m guessing he would have tweaked his own management ideas and been a force for aggressive change.
If you have ideas on how Manufacturing Engineering could change to better suit your needs, feel free to share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the December 2011 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.