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Managing the nation, managing the business, managing the technology and managing the human resource.

The Management of Technology (MoT) is the effective use of an organization's human and technological resources as a means to be more competitive. The principles of MoT are fundamental to these two entities and are the bases for managing the business and, on a macro-scale, the nation.

On another front, MoT is the marriage of engineering and business schools' curricula to provide the pedagogical content to accomplish the above. MoT is understanding and implementing the basics of the following: * Integrating the use of technology into the firm's strategic objectives; * The process of innovation; * The process of development project management; * The integration of process technologies; * Choice of technological options; * Integrating the above with marketing strategies; * Process for new product introduction; * Processes for intra-and inter-technology transfer; * Managing the people resource; * Managing interdisciplinary functions, and more.

MoT is the creation of an environment in which the human resource can "self-actualize" and contribute to the maximum of its potential. MoT is the implementation of a group process that emphasizes the "We" and minimizes the "I" relative to team member relationships. MoT encompasses the essence to Total Quality Management and the concept of Continuous Improvement.

MoT is an effort to bring the Olympics' concept of "faster, higher, farther" to the organizational scene, whether in the private or public sector. It is a vehicle to enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of any firm or organization. The health of the latter, in microcosm, is the health of the country.

Since the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the U.S., and since the actual signing of the FTA, Canadians have been inundated with negative news announcing the decline of the nation and particularly the "demise" of the manufacturing sector. Let's examine, with a bit of objectivity, the history and the trends taking place with respect to both these issues.

The decline of the nation:

What's really happening?

Let's look at some of the facts. During the 1980s, Canada outperformed the U.S. in the rate of growth in gross domestic product (GDP). We rank number two in the world when per capita GDP is displayed. We rank number two behind the U.S. on a per capita basis when Purchase Power Parity is taken into account. A recent United Nations report concludes that Canada has become the number one place to live when combining indicators related to national income, life expectancy, and educational attainment [1] (a view substantiated by any conversation held with those endeavoring to get into the country). From Wolfson and Murphy's article. . ."the bottom tenth of families in Canada have after-tax incomes more than 50% higher than the bottom tenth of U.S families:. In fact, approximately two-thirds of "Canada families have higher after-tax incomes than their U.S. counterparts". The latter two statistics are even more favorable to the Canadian family "if account were also taken of publicly provided health care and education" [2].

This is primarily a comparison with the wealthiest nation in the world. Japan, as a competitor is also significant but too much has already been written about its rise in the post-war era. For the sake of making one point to cover the situation. Hondas produced in the U.S. today apparently have a better quality performance than their Japanese counterpart. This is a marriage of two cultures, both of which have brought formidable credentials to the table, and the result of this hybrid is hardly surprising.

One may question why Canada should have deviated from the previous strategy of marketing world-wide through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and created a special situation with the U.S. opposite the FTA? The answer comes from an observation that the world has graviated into three macro trading regions or blocks - the European Economic Community (EEC). the Asia-Pacific region and North America. The forces driving this evolution are not ones which can be influenced easily by a single nation; particularly one that is not in geographically close to the other partners. In other words, Canada had little choice in the matter. It was the U.S. and, in the near future, Mexico, or nobody! This appears to be only a step towards a longer-term natural evolution of free trade throughout the world which should give our nation's leaders that much more heartburn when putting the case before the electorate; the media will have much "grist for the mill" and there will be much gnashing of teeth by spokesmen for labor and management - the former for jobs lost and the latter for the shrinking of margins, neither of which, for the long-term, need to be true.

The watch-out!

Canada will not prosper if the emphasis is on lowering wages to compete with the third world. Canada cannot and must not compete on unit labor costs. We do not want those industries or firms that have to rely on minimum wages as the differentiator and margin for success. But more on the basis for competition below when one examines the issue in more depth.

Canada will prosper!

Canadians should have little fear of the competition that such a shrunken world implies. Indeed, one can look at this evolving situation as "a cup half-empty or a cup half-full". With our nation, the cup is unequivocally half-full! Canada will prosper during the coming decade and, in fact, may even reach its full potential during the 21st century.

Why should there be such an optimistic outlook for the nation? To quote a recent Globe & Mail editorial... "Canada is in the early stages of an export-led, productivity-driven, economic boom, with manufacturing in a feature role" [3]. According to Tom McCormack, "This on the threshold of unprecedented expansion" [4].

I have looked at trends in the industrial and service infrastructure for the past year and have come to a similar conclusion. To create wealth in the nation, certain industries are primary while others are secondary.

Those creating tradeable goods and services are primary as they offer the opportunity to increase the exports of the country. The service industries such as the local barber and beauty parlor are secondary as they have little to no effect on the balance of trade amongst nations.

There are two ways for a firm to compete: * By being the lowest cost producer of a hard good or tradeable service; * Through the incorporation of value-added features which can command a higher price and improved benefit in the eyes of the consumer.

Of the three resources required to create goods and tradeable services, e.g. raw materials, capital, and labor, there needs to be an expansion in definition to include knowledge and technology as part of the "raw material" and management within the "labor" category.

Canadian manufacturers are generally blessed with an excellent infrastructure of support in most of our communities. Canada's educational system, although at the receiving end of criticism lately, has produced a knowledgeable and highly capable workforce within the trades and professional categories. There is much flexibility in thinking and financial support to retrain or educate where there is need.

Management development

However, I wish I could be as optimisitc about the training and development of the managerial ranks within the Canadian infrastructure. It is this key resource that offers the highest undeveloped potential for success on the competitiveness front. It is this area where I percieve a standard of performance inconsistent with the demands of the 1990s. It is the inability of most managers to recognize that there must be more than lip-service to the principles of participative management and to employee empowerment. There are many who espouse these principles, but there are few who subjugate their egos for the benefit of the group. In Star Trek II, Spock enunciated..."the needs of the many exceed the needs of the few...or the one!" This fundamental concept is the basis for Total Quality Management and Continuous Improvement in the manufacturing and service industries. Without consideration of the needs within the whole organization and without dealing directly with the thousand and one requirements in creating an environment in which innovation will flourish, there is no opportunity to have a sustained performance in these prerequesites for competitiveness in the 21st century.

Once the people issues have been adequately addressed within a firm, technology and capital can be fully exploited to provide the edge versus the competition. It is the sourcing and application of technology that is the challenge. There is more than enough available technology throughout the world for most firms and nations to prosper given that this knowledge is harnessed and implemented effectively. This is the case in the resource-based industries where Canada has been a world-class competitor since the discovery of its furs, fish, trees, minerals and grains. It is also the case in the so-called high-tech areas of electronics, computers, communications and biotechnology. It is even the case for the service sector where information technology has ever increasing importance in the success of the business. For smaller nations, there is one caveat: One must look for niches in the marketplace in which to excel.

Acquiring capital to start up a business or to keep the momentum up for an established one is also a challenge. The latest recession has seen venture capital become almost impossible to get, as even long established organizations have run into difficulties, e.g., the worlds of Robert Campeau and the Reichmans.

There are no guarantees in business nor are the risks of future demise at zero; "the best laid plans o mice and men, etc. "Because the demographics of the nation are shifting in favor of the order set, the nature of investment within the nation will shift accordingly and it is anyone's guess as to the implications of this major change on the availability of risk capital. Our financial institutions will continue to increase their influence and to have the greatest effect on the development of new businesses. One has to wonder whether the nation would benefit most from a $1 billion investment in a firm committed to real estate development in the U.K. or an equal amount amongst the many entrepreneurial efforts throughout Canada which have good products and tradeable services and are cash starved?

Policy, processes

and people

MoT, on a practical front, deals with people and technology. The Management of Technology and Innovation Institute (MTI) asserts that a firm or organization must deal with the three P's:- Policy. Processes and People [5]. The management of the technological and human resource must be addressed at the strategic (Policy) level by the senior decision-maker of the firm. Next, one must deal with the Processes which comprise the culture of the organization and either help or hinder the evolution of the organization's direction dictated by the strategic goals. All of this goes for naught if the People issues of reward and recognition, participation and commitment are not commensurate with the perception of a common goal and commitment to achieve through a colloborative team approach; "We are a strong as our weakest link!"

MoT principles can help with "faster, higher and farther" but they are not the latest "in-thing" nor the "flavor-of-the-month" unless so treated by the leaders of the organization. There is much discipline and patience required to managed the changes in processes and people behavior which are the fundamentals of MoT. Only a few have made the effort! More of our Canadian organizations must face the reality of the new age if the nation's full potential is to be approached. There will be no 21st century for those organizations which do not heed the challenge!


[1.] Linda Hossie, article. Globe & Mail. April 17, 1992. [2.] M.C. Wolfson and B.B. Murphy, Statistics Canada, Kinder and Gentler, North American Economics and Finance Association, Meeting in New Orleans, January 2, 1992. [3.] Editorial, Globe & Mail, April 24, 1992, [4.] Tom McCormack, article, Toronto Star, April 5, 1992. [5.] Walte F. Petryschuk, article, Management of Technology and Innovation Institute. Format, 1989.
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Title Annotation:includes sidebar on Management of Technology and Innovation Institute; Management of Technology
Author:Petryschuk, Walter F.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Previous Article:Progress through innovation: three companies show how it's done.
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