May 2006

The Knowledge Team

   The level of enthusiasm for our industrial niche is incredible. It was never more evident than at IAMC's Spring Professional Forum just concluded in San Diego in late March, attended by some 80 percent of our membership. Spirits were uniformly high, but I was particularly taken with the dynamics of our third "Get Some Help" session, which featured a room full of people ready to chime in and share information about issues affecting their everyday business.
   If you listened to President Bush's State of the Union address, you know about the nation's new American Competitiveness Initiative, a push to retain the nation's lead in science and technology innovation through increased R&D and a focus on education. IAMC corporate members likewise face an enormous amount of pressure for change, innovation and process improvements in their companies. And like their employers, their need for learning opportunities and practically applied research has never been greater. Robert Tucker's presentation in San Diego reinforced the shift from heavy process to more thoroughly delegated authority. We need to create a culture of innovation, because of the need for rapid change in a global marketplace.
   The old days of exhaustive R&D, involving months of deliberation before a final decision, are fading rapidly, replaced by the need to move with all deliberate speed. Once the critical mass of information is available to make decisions, we are to move on and execute. Thus it is our aim to fill IAMC Forums, research, education and publications with a potent mix of critical data and collective expertise that helps you make those savvy moves.
   The sole practitioner is a dinosaur. When the timetable compresses, the only way is through teams, which are as effective in the collegial atmosphere of our Forums as they are in your organizations.
   As economist Barry Asmus noted in his presentation, we all make more when we're all busy doing things together. Business can't rule over the public, and the public can't rule over free enterprise to its starvation. There has to be a balance. His take on the history and strength of a free economy and the entrepreneurial sweat that makes it happen inspired me to go right back to work.
Mark your calendar …

   Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia has issued his personal invitation to attend our Fall 2006 Forum in Williamsburg, organized around the theme of "Managing Tomorrow's Portfolio." Almost every corporate member has global operations and issues. There is an explosion of opportunity and markets, and the perspective that jobs are simply going offshore is vastly overstated. Asset deployment is based on the need to create best practices in a global economy, in effect putting together a worldwide all-star team. If that means certain manufacturing belongs in Argentina, a certain call center goes to Malaysia and a certain knowledge center needs to be in New York, then that's how it plays out.
   We need to view economic development in the context of all the options, focus on opportunities and not wring our hands over the loss of legacy production assets. We need to get over it, move on, carpe diem … and innovate.
   Here's to making IAMC the innovation leader in cultivating the competitiveness of its member companies and communities.

Charles McSwain
IAMC Chair

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