As many of us are still working from home on laptops and zoom, very focused on our new way of doing business I want you to know that the AME committee is looking out and working towards a very different future and different service. Taking very seriously our responsibility to serve your interests.
Our main focus is the AME international conference in October, celebrating our 20th year of the Australian Chapter. I want to explain why I think it is essential for you to attend this year, and it is not just because it is virtual. Firstly it is important to demonstrate that Australia is interested in manufacturing and in manufacturing excellence. 20 years ago a group of Australian Manufacturing managers and government ministers requested help in setting up an affiliate chapter in Australia.
This request was made because of a gap in manufacturing management excellence in this country, which was validated through tours of American and Japanese factories. The Americans had gains learning from the Japanese in the 1980s and at the turn of the century it was evident that the gains in Australia were less so.
Let me share an experience with you before I continue this thought. About twelve years ago a Japanese executive asked me this question: “Do you understand Australian Culture?” I thought what a strange question, knowing that if he asked it he thought that I did not. He went on to add “you do realise that if you don’t then you won’t be able to build a culture of manufacturing on top of it”. Looking at the expression on my face he chuckled and added “I’m Japanese and understand Japanese culture so I cannot help you understand Australian culture – you have to do your own thinking.”
It was a great question – do you understand the Australian Culture? I spend a decade thinking about this question from many viewpoints and two years ago I caught up with him again and gave him my answer. So I am going to share it with you for your thinking.
Australian’s culturally don’t have a broad appreciation of the spirit of making things (monozukuri). Our spirit has been built from a prior nomadic resource mindset based on a connection to land and in some cases, exploitation of it. This mindset is fundamental in our education system, government, community, and society. It is becoming stronger through this crisis. It is demonstrated in many ways from how Australians are the most travelled in the world, to more directly the lack of appreciation for having a spirit for making things.
Now, back to why you should attend the virtual AME International conference. We know that the current world crisis is a perfect storm and manufacturing is rapidly changing. Globalisation will be put the sword swiftly in some countries, slowly in others and localisation will like a pendulum swing back sharply. See how quick we were to close our own borders! My exposure to strategic thinkers around the world indicate that on-shore thinking is front of mind in the USA, they are moving, Australia is either slow or blind to this. The perception is that Australia is “Nomadic.” Some countries in the region are treating us as nomads - insignificant wanderers!
We only have two viable avenues – Japan and the USA. We need strong ties with American Manufacturing. I want to make a passionate plea to all American Manufacturing at this conference to onshore with an Australian company, innovate with an Australian company, localise with an Australian company, construct your future strategies with Australian Manufacturing not just with us in mind but in partnership. Uniting our different mindset and understanding of the world will create synergy. If we don’t go to the grass roots of manufacturing we will be left out of sources of innovation and opportunity.
I cannot make this plea to them at the conference if we have weak representation. There is not a better time to tap into such knowledge and also access to training material for six months afterwards.
We asked our American colleagues for assistance 20 years ago and they made the journey to set us up, now we need to go back and say we are ready for a partnership, how can we help? I ask for a partnership because the manufacturing that survives in Australia is resilient, resourceful, and innovative.
Please let my know your thoughts on this and if you think it is a virtuous cause for AME Australia, and why it would be important to you?