Globalisation is Good………………………………..#innovation

design-processMuch has been said about the ‘evils’ of Globalisation & the impact on impoverished workers resulting in Brexit in the U.K & Trumps victory over the pond. But what about the positive impacts of Globalisation which are rarely trumpeted (excuse the pun)

The export of manufacturing jobs from the West to Asia has undoubtedly impacted on job security in the West but what about the subsequent cost reduction in the price of consumer products.

Also, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in China & Asia as a result.

Those very same products are bought by the same people who moan about foreigners stealing their jobs. A TV which can be bought for £200 in a UK supermarket would cost may times that if manufactured in the UK.

Protectionism is no answer to under employment. All that will happen is the Countries affected by Tariffs will introduce their own in ‘revenge’, take the auto industry as an example.

Every car manufactured in the U.S contains hundreds of components which are made abroad. If each of these components increases in costs the unit cost of the car goes up reducing competitive advantage & ultimately the business is bankrupt.

In the end everyone loses as bureaucracy strangles innovation & the economy shrinks.

The only way to ‘protect’ jobs is by investing in education & innovation. By producing individuals who can develop & create the products & services of the future. These will be made wherever it is cheapest to do so lifting the impoverished up the socio economic ladder & increasing their own economic power.

In the UK manufacturing is only 10% of the economy but we have some of the worlds best design & development Engineers earning good salaries creating innovative products even if they are manufactured overseas.

Apple is recognised as one of the Worlds most successful & innovative corporations employing thousands in well paying jobs – but not a single iPhone is made in the USA.

‘Putting America first’ may give short term gains but will ultimately end in disaster.


10 things we can learn from the #chinacrisis








1) What goes up MUST come down – I know it’s obvious but some people really believed it was possible for an economy to grow at 7% per year indefinitely – just ask the punters on the Shanghai Index.

2) Gordon Brown didn’t abolish boom & bust – but then we all learned that 7 years ago. Capitalism, for all its pros & cons, is inherently cyclical.

3) Every Market is interconnected – more so now than ever before, any crisis in China will be replicated to one extent or another around the globe.

4) No Government controls the market – whether its the State Capitalist Chinese or the Western Democracies – intervention is limited in its affect.

5) Transparency is a concern – Is the Chinese economy still growing at 6%, 5% or much less – no one knows & there is a distinct lack of trust in the data supplied by the Chinese government.

6) It will impact us all :- The Chinese economy is the second biggest market in the world & although exports vastly exceed imports the purchasing power of the Chinese middle classes will be severely curbed.

7) Social upheaval will follow – The political tensions in China will erupt (to one degree or another); The Chinese Government will struggle to keep a lid on the educated middle classes who have got used to continuous growth & increased wealth.

8) Capitalism is in crisis – as boom follows bust & vice versa Capital flows to the point of highest growth – leaving chaos in its wake.

9) What comes next ? – no one knows – but maybe we should be looking to develop a sustainable society based on full-filling human needs rather than continuously expanding Gross Domestic product ?

10) The sun still rises in the East, sets in the West & the world keeps on turning.

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Jaguar Land Rover goes from strength to strength #innovation

evoque2This week Jaguar Land Rover released the following press statement:-

‘JLR creates 250 new jobs as Halewood is confirmed as the home of the new Discovery Sport
The Land Rover Discovery Sport has been confirmed as the latest model to be produced at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood plant. The additional jobs announced to support Jaguar Land Rover’s newest model will see the Halewood workforce reach 4,750 – more than treble the number employed there in 2010. The Halewood plant has benefited from a £200 million investment to support introduction of the first member of the all-new Land Rover Discovery family, taking the total amount invested in Halewood over the last four years to almost £500 million.’
So why are JLR doing so well when volume manufacturers like General Motors Vauxhall and other Marques are struggling:-
1) JLR are taking advantage of a global rise in premium SUV’s driven, to a large extent, by the Chinese market.
2) Their customers are relatively well off & have higher disposable income.
3) They have targeted the export market, with over 80% of sales destined for overseas.
4) Their Quality standards are superior, the attention to detail is exceptional .
5) They have an excellent engineering pedigree with a stable workforce with many, many years experience. There is no other company in the World knows as much about four wheel drive systems as Land Rover.
6) Jaguar Land Rover has a flexible business model & employs many talented & experienced engineering contractors. 
7) They use a proven stage gate development process (described in an earlier post)
8) They have enjoyed massive Capital Investment from Tata investing over 2.75 billion pounds in 2014. Not bad for an organisation which was on its knees before the Tata takeover.

#Insource is the new #Outsource

workersA recent report from Deloitte suggests that bringing jobs back in house (Insourcing) is a small but growing trend against the much larger tendency to Outsource which has dominated western industry for the last thirty years.

Companies are increasingly realizing that Outsourcing is no longer the best value option. Anyone who has been involved in Outsourcing knows it is never as simple as it’s made out, often requiring intensive effort from Managerial & Engineering staff & extensive, frequent travel. Not to mention increased wage costs in China & India, increased shipping costs and numerous supply chain delays.

The biggest issue Western companies face with Insourcing is the lack of trained, skilled staff to deliver the service. Having made thousands of workers redundant in the pursuit of cheaper Outsource options this is somewhat ironic.

This need may be met by making good use of the highly skilled Freelance professionals who operate in the market to satisfy just such demand.

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Why #innovation will fail in China

chinese-workersThe Chinese Government is pouring millions of yen into R&D in an effort to stimulate innovation in industry to stimulate growth in it’s internal markets.

This effort is aimed at increasing added value and moving China away from being the assembly shop of the world – and it’s doomed to fail miserably unless it is accompanied by sweeping political reform which, in itself, is extremely unlikely.

In order for innovation to thrive it is necessary to have a culture which allows open debate, which allows the challenge of pre-existing dogma & beliefs. It encourages the active participation of workers at all levels of the organization from the cleaner to the CEO. Innovation requires an open culture which values individualism.

All of this is impossible in a system which is strictly hierarchical, which jails political dissidents & artists & where the Party has the ultimate say in everything. Innovation is impossible in a culture of fear.

Unless the Chinese State Communist Party embraces democracy & undergoes serious reform any efforts to stimulate Innovation will fail miserably.

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#Automotive Competitive Sport………

Today Jaguar Land Rover revealed the all new Range Rover Sport in Manhattan New York. This fabulous vehicle is a terrific example of British Engineering at it’s best. The West Midlands manufacturer goes from strength to strength with double digit sales growth across the globe.

Rumour has it that JLR could sell their entire manufacturing capacity for the new Sport to China alone.

The new Range Rover sport is built to ultimate quality standards and features many examples of innovative design, from the all aluminium body shell (which is half a ton lighter than the previous model saving 15% in fuel) to the class leading infotainment system.

JLR are leading the world in automotive product design and manufacture. Long may it continue.

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Buy British because it’s British ? #business

There has been some debate in the Media recently about buying British products as a way of reducing the impact of the recession & preserving British jobs; so is this a good idea ?

We live in a Capitalist society (whether we like that or not) based on competition. The consumer has a free choice of which products to buy or not to buy & we tend to seek good value for money, regardless of origin. As a consequence we are pretty good at identifying products which deliver most “bang for the buck”.

In the 1970’s most of our Electronic products originated in Japan. Some people complained this wasn’t fair to British manufacturers but consumers continued to buy Japanese products because they were better quality and hence better value for money.

Now most of our electronic products are manufactured in China or Korea & people buy them because they are cheaper & better quality than their Japanese counterparts.

Jaguar Land Rover has been in the News recently because sales are up over 30% compared to last year, is this because these products are manufactured in Britain or because they are of exceptional quality and, though expensive, represent good value for money.

Over time products evolve and the companies which make them either grow – & their shareholders get richer or, if their products deteriorate the company shrinks, the shareholders lose money & eventually the company is bust.

So, in the long run, is the best way to preserve British jobs to buy inferior goods just because they are British or to buy the best value products whatever their origin & ensure quality increases & the fittest survive ?

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Jaguar Land Rover has a taste for Chinese #automotive

A new sales record of over 314k cars and profits of 1.5 billion GBP illustrate the success of British car maker Jaguar Land Rover and it’s innovative new products including the Range Rover Evoque which is selling like “hot cakes” at the moment particularly in China. In fact Jaguar Land Rover is opening a new dealership in China every week. China sales now represent almost 20% of the companies sales.

There is, however, another less publicised side to this story.

Since 2007 the British Pound  has devalued against the Chinese Yuan (or RMB)  by a whopping 56% as a direct result of the U.K Governments policy of Quantitative Easing. In March 2009 75 billion pounds was created electronically followed by another 200 billion pounds later that year. Further episodes of Q.E pumped a total of 325 billion pounds into the U.K economy, devaluing the pound & increasing exports.

It also goes a long way to explaining why foreign ownership of London property has increased 20% since 2009 & conversely why imported foodstuffs & other goods now seem outrageously expensive.

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Insource or Outsource ? #pmot #in

Far East manufacture should not be the default option

Far East manufacture should not be the default option

Over the last 14 years Manufacturing in the U.K has shrunk from a respectable 28% of GDP to today’s all time low of 10%.

So maybe it is time to rethink our outsourcing strategy ?

Over the years we have become very complacent in the U.K about manufacturing, and in many respects have given up the ghost. We have blithely subcontracted all of our manufacturing operations with no long term view of the consequesnces. We have given away millions of jobs for a short term monetary gain and are now reaping the rewards of an economy built on sand.

Outsourcing to the Far East should NOT be the default option. We need to look at the alternatives and take the following into consideration:-

1) Compare Apples with Apples – just because the Direct labour Cost may be cheaper in the Far East what about the support costs. It is inevitable that a subcontracted operation will need more indirect suppport, sometimes more than you could possibly imagine, and this cost needs to be accounted for somewhere.

2) Is the Quality of the product really going to be the same ?- how will you ensure this ?

3) Cost of shipping – with rising fuel costs have you taken this into consideration ? you need to understand the cost per unit shipped.

4) Environmental Policy – How does the transport and distribution of products across the world fit in with your Environmental Policy – if you want customers to “buy in” to your Environmental Policy it needs to be credible and any offshore manufacture and transport should be accounted for in your overall Carbon Footprint.

5) Time of shipping – can you afford to delay initial deliveries while they are on the Sea for 5 weeks or do you want to pay extra for air freight to ensure fast delivery ?

6) Have you considered the cost of Import Duties ?

Consider the success of some of our best industries in the U.K – auto manufacture, Aerospace, telecommunications, mobile phones etc etc

Outsourcing should remain a key component of our manufacturing strategy but should note be the default option. We need to challenge the assumption that manufacturing will be subcontracted by asking the right questions.

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Stop trade with China Now ?

Today’s news that the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Price for his peaceful resistance to Chinese oppresion and work for Human rights has raised the heat on the debate – “Should we stop trade with China now ?”

Most people are aware that the vast majority of Western companies outsource manufacturing operations to China for cost reasons and perhaps it is time we began to seriously question this strategy. Have a look at any company’s website and you will find a description of the company’s environmental policy but you will be hard pressed to find any information about the company’s attitude towards democracy or human rights.  If we are so concerned about Global Warming and it’s impact on the planet perhaps we should also be paying more attention to which regimes we do business with.

Of course the opposite argument is that by doing business with China we are helping to raise living standards which will inevitably lead to greater pressure for democracy and human rights.

However it would be nice to know that the debate had at least taken place and to see some kind of clear policy on company websites regarding human rights policy.

What do you think ?

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Stop corporate abuses - Amnesty International