Does America Still Work?


When we look at what happened to those other companies that moved their plants, who knows what the real cause was? We can say it was labor cost. We can say it was poor quality. We can say it was competition. There's a whole variety of things that we have to consider in that business equation. I think a lot of it starts with a lack of communication within the organization. So you have people who are polarized. And when they are polarized, they can't reach a common shared vision as to how we are going to exist. We're worried about winning and losing. We've got to move to winning and winning. And don't get me wrong, we have lots of challenges, and we get into win-lose situations, but overall, we're really trying to go down the road of mutually beneficial relationships.

You know, I try to keep this company and all the people focused on continuous improvement -- doing today whatever you do better than you did it yesterday. Smarter. You know, working together in teams, focused on improving quality, focused on better products, focused on value. We've got to work to continue to build a product that people want or enjoy driving and want to buy again. That's the ultimate reason that we are in business. And that's what we all have to keep focused on.

In any given population at any given time you have people who are overpaid and underpaid. I think that's the nature of a rapid change process, and certainly we have been going through a rapid change process recently. What we need is to focus on moving from a manufacturing period in the sixties where we had a lot of manufacturing employees who were relatively low-skilled, to the need today for higher skilled employees, to differentiate U.S. workers from their cohorts in other countries overseas. We have a big educational job to do to move people up the ladder in terms of the skills necessary to make us a more productive nation.

The notion that corporate managers are always seeking to maximize return for every minute of every day to shareholders, I think, is really being distorted. In theory, of course, that's what corporate leadership is all about. But shareholders are in it for the long haul, not necessarily there to grab each short term tick of earning's performance. And over time, if workers are generating returns to shareholders, and are not getting paid for it, then eventually there will come a time when workers will not be delivering the returns that managers want to give shareholders. So, there has to be equitable distribution of the contribution of the workforce to both shareholders and rewarding workers themselves. Otherwise, the entire system of corporate governance is up for grabs.

Wages for Americans in the top twenty percent of earnings are doing quite well. If you're in the top five percent, you are doing extremely well. If you are in the top one percent, you are doing better than the top one percent has done probably in fifty or sixty or seventy years. But if you're in the bottom twenty or thirty or forty percent, you are not doing well...I think it's not good for a company to allow too great a gulf to open up between the compensation of the boss at the top and everybody else. Because what is it that makes the average worker feel that he or she is part of an enterprise where they have a common fate, that it is necessary to put in the extra mile to make sure that the company works? It's the sense that everybody is working together...You cannot do that if the CEO is earning 140 times what the average worker in that company is earning.

Many companies that choose instead to close those plants and move production to Mexico, for example, find that when they really try to take full account of all the quality problems that gives them, the cost of all those executives flying down to Mexico to address production problems -- when you add in all those logistical kinds of costs -- it turns out that traveling the so-called low road is often no cheaper.

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