June 2008

No need to fear, globalization is here

By Gregory Hale, InTech, Editor

Fear is an incredibly divisive emotion. It can take the greatest minds and subvert them into a quivering mess of indecision.

"This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive, and will prosper," said Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first inaugural address in 1933 in the midst of the depression. "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Our nation as a whole was living with fear on a daily basis back then. Not many people knew if or when a job and a livable wage would turn up. People were afraid of the unknown.

The same thing is true about manufacturing's shift toward globalization.

All our jobs are going to India or China is the familiar refrain. What will happen to us? While the concept has been around for quite a while, globalization is a new type of mindset, and when anything new happens, the first reaction is to slam on the brakes and start to scream, "Not here; not on my watch." Fear of the unknown. Take that fear and work it to your advantage.

When it comes to globalization, German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel does not fear jobs will be lost to other nations.
"There is always a worry that globalization will hurt our affluence," she said during the opening ceremonies at Hannover Fair in Hannover, Germany. "I don't agree with this. We can be winners in globalization, but we have to be willing to invest and have a strong commitment."

She mentioned how her country works well with Japan, the Fair's partner country this year. "Now it has become apparent to German companies they need to work in a global environment. It is now paying off. We can work together with Japan."

"Germany is an important strategic partner for Japan," said former Japanese prime minster Shinzo Abe, who represented his country during the opening ceremonies as a special envoy for current Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. "Germany is our most important trading partner in Europe. Many companies like Volkswagen have come to Japan. Hopefully, we will have many more exchanges. Hopefully, (Hannover Fair) will lead to cultural advances. Companies working together will lead to greater technological innovation."

If you go back the past four years, Merkel said the very same things to Russia, India, and Turkey. They all have to share in the future. Borders should not really exist when it comes to gaining an edge, especially in the automation environment.

Fear of the unknown really comes into play when you have to work and deal with people from a different country and culture. What works here does not necessarily work there, and vice versa.

Face your fears. If you want to eliminate them, then true communication has to take place. Once the walls break down, you will find things really are not that different on the other side of the world. Then you will find open discussion, and true advances will occur.

Talk to me: ghale@isa.org or (919) 990-9275.