Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - September 3, 2014
Filling in for Jan Mickelson
The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
Honda to the rescueAbout 1,000 Iowans just lost jobs at John Deere due to layoffs: farmers cutting back on purchases
- Corn prices have basically dropped by half in the last 18 months
- That in turn has done a lot to cut demand for the kinds of heavy machinery that Deere builds
- Agricultural machinery isn't the only cyclical business out there
But what if the answer is right beneath our noses? Do we just need to follow the Honda model?
- Jeffrey Rothfeder has tackled that question in the book "Driving Honda"
- He makes a compelling argument that Honda -- rising from scrappy origins -- has a better model for manufacturing than many other companies, including its automotive competitors but extending far beyond
- Honda never had the protection of implicit or explicit government protection. It actually had to overcome government policies that discriminated against it.
- Honda has an engineering mindset, favoring hands-on experience everywhere and all the time, at every step in the process of designing, making, and selling its products.
- Honda has a very aggressive approach to research and development, independent of the immediate profits it might produce.
- Honda demands thinking at every step -- including and especially on the assembly line. Everyone in the company starts on the assembly line.
- Honda specifically sets aside room for the devil's advocate in every discussion.
- Honda grows its own talent from within and jealously guards its independence (of thought as well as of operation)
- Honda prefers employees with a certain type of thought process over people with specific experience in the type of job they're doing -- and sometimes throws people head-first into doing jobs for which they are completely unprepared
- Honda is highly technical and technology-friendly, but performs a surprising amount of the actual work of building cars by manual labor, because that's where things can be improved
- Honda would rather build a factory in the middle of nowhere and be the center of attention than be where the action is
- Honda treats suppliers like a tough but loving parent treats his or her children -- assuming that they're together for the long run and pushing hard for improvements, rather than giving up and cutting bait when times turn bad
- Are there lessons for Iowa manufacturers to take away from Honda? We've lost lots of big employers, like Maytag in Newton (2007) and Electrolux in Webster City (2011). Even some of our meatpacking plants are closing. Are those losses avoidable?
- Can companies that didn't start like Honda adopt personality characteristics that have made it successful?
- What could a startup learn from Honda?
- Can non-manufacturing businesses take away any lessons from Honda?
- Does Iowa have any of the special ingredients that would either attract a firm like Honda or enhance the chances for a home-grown manufacturer?
Technology hygieneA bunch of celebrities (prominently including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton) just found themselves in the spotlight of unwanted attention over naked and half-naked photos of themselves that someone hacked online.
- Apple says its iCloud service wasn't at fault, and blames an attack on usernames, passwords, and security questions -- as opposed to a breach of their cloud computing service.
- What can you do to protect yourself? Practice good technology hygiene. Specific to this case, use two-step verification to control access to your most important accounts, use different passwords on different key sites, and keep cameras out of the field of view of anything you want to keep private.
- Educate your family members -- we used to say "your kids", but really, this applies to every generation. Don't take pictures you wouldn't want to get out into the wild. Don't store sensitive material online. Mind your passwords.
Who's watching Washington?Find me someone who isn't cynical about Washington, DC, and I'll show you someone who could find the silver lining on a tornado. We're hurting ourselves, though, by getting so sick and tired of Congress that we zone out of paying attention to what they're doing. And it's not helping anything that the press corps who watches Washington for us isn't getting bigger -- nor better.
Lisa Desjardins just got let go from a job covering Capitol Hill for CNN Radio. She departed with a farewell video that included a line I think we all ought to hear: "Members of Congress could put the entire text of '50 Shades of Gray' into a bill, and no one...would ever notice". I'm deathly afraid that she's right.