SME Speaks: Bridging the Gaps
By John R. Uzzolino
SME Membership Consultant
How do you win friends and influence people? Through e-mail, Web sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, online forums, and YouTube? My guess is that Dale Carnegie would have answered this question by saying, "Read my book."
How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the most famous self-help books ever written. Since 1937, there have been more than 15 million copies sold worldwide. It took Dale Carnegie roughly 74 years to influence those 15 million readers. While it is estimated that I will have a connection with 15 million people in as little as two years on LinkedIn, I doubt I will be influencing those 15 million the same way Dale Carnegie has.
In the past 10 years, I have been involved with several chapters in New England as a member, an officer, and, most recently, as an SME membership consultant (MCon). The primary role of an MCon is to enhance communications and promote member engagement in both senior and student chapters. It is with this perspective that I write about my experience with SME, and what I believe are the key tenets to growing our member base and engaging members in a more meaningful way.
Developing Strong Relationships: As a membership consultant, I am expected to build a strong relationship with the chapters I’m assigned. My reference to Dale Carnegie is an important one. Dale Carnegie teaches that strong relationships are cultivated over time, not by a click of a button, or by accepting a "friend request" on a social network. Importantly, strong relationships cultivate a strong membership base, which is essential for continuing to grow SME. Online tools are an excellent resource, and should be used to help facilitate connections and for the exchange of information. Driving strong relationships and promoting member engagement, however, should not be short-circuited by online tools.
Communicating the Value: Once the relationship is developed, the next step is communicating the value of SME to the member. As a loyal SME member, I still struggle at times with understanding what our members really need from a professional society. Is it networking? Is it access to technical papers and a research librarian? Do they want to read about the latest technologies in Manufacturing Engineering magazine? Or would they rather attend a tradeshow? Maybe it’s participating in a free webinar or getting a discount on DVDs or a book? Is the answer "All of the above?"
In my experience, the younger generation doesn’t readily see the value in professional organizations. We all know the Internet is chock full of information, so some may ask themselves "Why should I pay for a membership, or ask my company to pay my membership fees, when I can Google it? Maybe the answer to that first set of questions is actually: "None of the above?"
Over the years I have signed up for several webinars, downloaded dozens of tech papers, and registered for many tradeshows. I sincerely "wanted" to attend, but the reality was that I was being paid to perform my job and was focused on what I "needed." If the member needs help, and the resource is presented to him/her at the right time, there is a much higher chance they will take advantage of that resource.
The fundamental problem is that most people try and figure it out on their own, or tap the resources they are already comfortable with. Rather than hope a member (or prospective member) finds the resources SME has to offer, we must proactively seek out what every member or potential member is looking for, which for many of us is time. If we can link the value of SME to helping the member be more efficient and effective at their job, then we’ve successfully demonstrated SME’s value.
Time is of the Essence: The reality is that things move a lot faster these days. Relationships are made faster, work needs to be done faster, and people expect a response to an e-mail or phone call faster. We are forced to think in seconds, rather than minutes. We are expected to keep our Blackberrys and iPhones on 24/7.
Because we’re all doing so much at once, it’s not surprising that creating efficiencies (e.g., effectively creating more time for ourselves) is on everyone’s mind these days. Many are asking: "How do I become more effective and efficient at what I need to accomplish, so I can leave work early and be home with my family?" Again, here is where we need to reinforce SME’s value proposition. By emphasizing SME’s benefits in the context of saving time, we can be confident we are tapping into what the member needs. Find out what they are working on, and show them how SME can save them time.
Seventy-three years ago, Dale Carnegie provided us with lessons on creating strong relationships. His message still holds true today, because we know that if we develop strong relationships across all generations, those relationships will help to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, experience, and wisdom from our aging member population. In addition, if we can leverage online tools to get the information out to the members in an effective way, and demonstrate to them that SME will save them time and make them more effective, we may have a fighting chance at being seen as the premier "one-stop-shop" for manufacturing professionals.
About the Author
John R. Uzzolino is the director of sales and marketing for PVI Systems (Niantic, CT). He has been a SME member since 2001, and is currently an SME membership consultant for chapters in the New England area. For more information, you can contact him at email@example.com.
Meet Customer Demand
without Carrying Huge Inventories
Build to Demand (BTD) is an alternative to the Toyota Production System (TPS) for manufacturers and/or suppliers that experience highly variable or lumpy demand and want to increase customer service rates while reducing inventories and production costs. Whereas TPS is an inventory-replenishment strategy, BTD is a capacity-driven production strategy. With the BTD process:
- Demand patterns are analyzed over time using
stochastic analysis and modeling methods,
- Customer demand drives production scheduling
at both the suppliers and the OEM, and
- Customer orders are filled from production,
Self-Assembling Possible with Programmable Magnets
Magnets printed with multiple poles are opening the door to many applications. The ability to manipulate magnetic fields redefines one of the fundamental forces of nature. By using heat to erase a magnetic field, the material can be reprogrammed to have multiple north and south poles of differing strengths. Applications appear limitless, from precision switches and a new generation of fasteners to robots that can scale walls without touching them. Specific applications include snowboard bindings, spinal implants, and magnets on the joints of furniture or toys that click together only when correctly aligned.
Strongest Known Material Is Lightweight and Electrically Conductive
Graphene, a sheet of carbon just one atom thick, has spectacular strength, flexibility, transparency, and electrical conductivity. Graphene is most easily visualized as an atomic-scale chicken wire made of carbon atoms and their bonds. Fifty times stronger than steel, application areas are seemingly endless and include: extremely sensitive sensors, superfast electronic switches for consumer electronics, aircraft braking systems, thermal management, electromagnetic interference (EMI), radio-frequency interference (RFI), next-generation Li-ion battery, fuel-cell bipolar plate, and touch screens.
Microstructured Molding Tools
Microstructured molding tools provide new surface capabilities for products, with no need to change the manufacturing process. Created as square or custom inserts for injection or compression molds, the innovation adds several capabilities to any molded product: superhydrophobic, reduced friction, reduced fluid drag, increased heat transfer, ice mitigation, grayscale, self-cleaning, no visible fingerprints, and breathable grip—with more capabilities being developed. This new approach to fabricating microstructured-steel molding tools reduces microstructure manufacturing cost by 83–98%. Applications can be found in several industries, including automotive, aerospace, home appliances, personal products, biomedical devices, and health care. Essentially, this innovation will affect anyone using a product that could benefit from enhanced surface capabilities.
Programming Light with Quantum Dots
Quantum dots are tiny particles, or nanoparticles, of a semiconductor material, traditionally chalcogenides of metals like cadmium or zinc, which range from 2 to 10 nm in diam. Displaying unique optical and electrical properties, quantum dots can be made in precisely specified sizes, which in turn enables a manufacturer to determine the color of light emitted. Quantum dots can be "tuned" during production to emit any color of light desired. Companies manufacturing quantum dot-enabled products include QD Vision and Weinberg Medical Physics.
Visit a Colleague’s Office While Never Leaving Home
A remote-presence robot allows a telecommuting worker to remotely attend meetings, drop into the offices of colleagues, and otherwise collaborate with people in another office. Many robots have cameras in their eyes to capture video, speakers and microphones to relay sound back and forth, and an LCD in the forehead to display a still image or video of the remote colleague. Companies like Procter & Gamble are using these remote-presence robots to increase the efficiencies of teams working across the world.
Super Velcro Using Shape Memory Polymer
General Motors researchers have made an extremely strong adhesive that comes apart when heated. It’s ten times stickier than either Velcro or reusable gecko-inspired glues. Two pieces of the polymer stick together when heated, stay stuck when cooled down, and come apart when heated again. The new adhesive can be used for nonstructural bonding for ease of repair, including various interior and exterior automotive trims, and potentially for any application requiring a strong but alterable bond, such as furniture, toys, and buildings.
Innovation Watch List
- Continuous-flow microreactors,
- Dip-pen nanolithography,
- Green cement,
- Large-format ceramic batteries,
- Laser heating in a diamond anvil cell,
- Self-assembling vehicles, and
- Synethetic cells.
The 2011 Innovations List will be featured at the SME Annual Conference, June 5–7, Bellevue, WA. Web site: sme.org/conference. ME
This article was first published in the March 2011 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.