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Tomorrow’s Talent

Examining factors that shape the manufacturing workforce
  • Karl M. Kapp
September/October 2012

Tomorrow's Talent

The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today
By Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd
Published in 2010
304 pages

Manufacturing appears to be making a comeback in the United States. The big three automakers, once on the brink of collapse, are roaring back, and specialty manufacturing is on an uptick. But to remain competitive, manufacturers need to attract innovative, talented individuals who want to make a difference. It’s critical to help young people understand that their perceptions of manufacturing as low-tech, dirty, backbreaking work are outdated. In fact, manufacturing is a high-tech, fast-moving, and information-intensive career path. This book’s goal is to educate manufacturers on how to bring about this change. 

Meister and Willyerd outline 10 forces that are shaping the workforce of the future. The first is the shift in workforce demographics. Most dramatic is that the number of US workers over the age of 40 is increasing significantly, as are the numbers in historically under-represented populations. For example, from 1980 to 2020, Caucasian workers in the United States will decline from 82 to 63 percent, while the non-Caucasian portion will double. 

The next forces are the knowledge economy, globalization, the digital workforce, and the ubiquity of mobile technology. It is postulated that mobile phones and devices could become the most important learning platforms in our lifetimes. Already, some manufacturing planning systems send text messages to alert operations managers of excessive inventory or other problems on the shop floor. The ability to access information anytime and from anywhere will continue to affect manufacturing processes, especially warehousing and logistics. 

The authors then engage in the culture of connectivity— people who are “hyperconnected,” or always close to the internet regardless of where they are physically. The ways that manufacturing companies develop the culture of connectivity as it relates to work will become a significant competitive factor in attracting and engaging top talent. 

The participation society, social learning, corporate social responsibility, and millennials in the workplace round out the authors’ list of forces shaping the future. These trends already are shaping the workforce and seem to be accelerating at a dizzying pace. 

If you are interested in gaining insight into how to attract the next generation of manufacturing employees, The 2020 Workplace will help guide your thinking about hiring, customers, and even competitors.

Better Business Decisions Using Cost Modeling: For Procurement, Operations, and Supply Chain Professionals

Better Business Decisions Using Cost Modeling: For Procurement, Operations, and Supply Chain Professionals
By Victor E. Sower and Christopher H. Sower 

Published in 2011 
Business Expert Press
138 pages

Given today’s economic climate and the gloomy long-term forecast, cost reduction is a goal of every manufacturing and logistics organization. What organization wouldn’t want to save thousands of dollars or shrink production costs by 60 percent in six months? According to the authors, those savings are the direct result of cost-modeling techniques. 

The authors’ intent is to describe how to create cost models and achieve dramatic savings. Chapter 2 provides clarity and insight into the basics of constructing a cost model. Areas highlighted include income statement components and definitions, conceptual design of models, and possible sources of data. The chapter serves as an overview of the overarching principles and the best practices necessary to create sound cost models. 

Subsequent chapters focus on internal cost models, including how to perform a cost feasibility analysis for new projects and services and how cost models can increase the efficiency or reduce the costs of a project. The authors also discuss learning-curve models, break-even models, and cost-of-quality models. A comprehensive overview of cost-modeling techniques provides readers with just enough information to grasp the basics and begin the modeling process themselves. 

Next, external cost models are examined, for both procured materials and procured services. The authors describe how to create a cost model backbone, derive direct material costs, and identify the cost of service elements. This information is presented with charts, tables, and graphs to help the reader visualize the models.

The final chapter of the book tackles the issue of modeling total cost of ownership. Various long-term costs are described, such as those for installation, operations, maintenance, transportation, salvage, and disposal, as well as opportunity costs. 

Organizations that are in need of reducing expenses must consider cost modeling. It is a valuable tool for exposing hidden costs throughout the business. Reading Better Business Decisions Using Cost Modeling provides a solid first step.


The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned

The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned
By Willis H. Thomas

Published in 2012
CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group
161 pages


Many people talk about lessons learned when doing project management. However, not many project teams undertake a formal process to understand and disseminate these lessons. Doing so results in fewer mistakes, increased productivity, and better-managed projects. To help companies and individuals reach these goals, Thomas provides a primer on project evaluation and has developed a methodical look at evaluating the myriad types of learning outcomes from a project. 
The first chapter defines terms, setting the foundation for the rest of the book. For Thomas’s purposes, “lessons learned” refers to project learning or ways of knowing that have merit, worth, or significance. In other words, it is about looking at the quality, value, and importance of information that was discovered, reinforced, or even learned during a project. 

Next, Thomas offers a comprehensive look at the process of evaluating a project for learning. He refers to concepts such as intra-project learning, which is the process of creating and sharing knowledge with a project. The book also contains a brief overview of how organizations can use lessons learned to build capacity for growth and development. In chapter 8, Thomas examines approaches to conducting evaluations, popular evaluation models, research methods, and measurement practices. It is a good foundation for developing your own methods to build capacity by documenting lessons learned during the life and afterlife of a project.

The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned offers a solid grounding for the study of project evaluation techniques and tools and serves as a high-level overview of the terms, concepts, and techniques required. It also features a rich group of references, resources, definitions, and graphics to clarify ideas and concepts. 

An included CD contains a project evaluation resource kit with documentation for evaluating projects and performing ongoing maintenance on project lessons. It includes contract examples, job aids, guidelines, procedures, forms, checklists, report designs, diagrams, presentations, and more. The kit alone is worth the price of the book.

Karl M. Kapp, EdD, CFPIM, CIRM, a professor at Bloomsburg University, is author of Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning and coauthor of Integrated Learning for ERP Success. He may be contacted at


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