JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 210 : 24 May 2006

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Automation.com Corporate Culture Series

On the Automation.com website, you can read about the corporate cultures of many leading automation suppliers. These include Schneider Electric, Emerson, ABB, National Instruments, Matrikon - and more coming. Get an inside look at what makes these companies tick.

These articles are written specially for Automation.com, presented their "Corporate Culture Series". Much of my information comes directly from discussions with executives and senior managers, and qualified through employees at many levels.

Here's the current list of companies I've covered:

  • Matrikon - A Successful Solutions Provider Approaching $100m.
    One of the largest independent industrial automation systems integrators in North America, this company has already broken some of the barriers that limit the size of systems integrators: dependency on a couple of key founders; inability to grow beyond narrow, local markets; capital for global expansion.
  • National Instruments - Culture of Growth & Success.
    NI has already achieved about $ 600 million in annual revenue in 2005, and looks well set to exceed $ 1 billion within the next few years. The company is exceptional in that it has thrived for three decades after startup, with an adaptive people-orientated culture and the founder is still in charge.
  • ABB Corporate Culture - Winners Shaped by History.
    This global automation leader made a series of bold acquisitions in the 1990's. In mid-2002, the company was in serious trouble. However, quick, decisive action succeeded in reversing most of the problems. This review of the corporate culture presents a new, stronger and more focused ABB - one of the automation industry's most dramatic turnarounds.
  • The Emerson Difference.
    Emerson has been in business for 115 years and has 115,000 employees. This is one of the world's leading manufacturing companies with operations around the globe. Emerson Process Management is a leader in process control and automation. Emerson has an achievement orientated culture which seems to attract some of the best people in the industry.
  • Schneider Electric - Aggressive French Giant.
    Schneider Electric calls itself "the world's power and control specialist". Through its well-known control products brands, the company serves the residential, building, industrial and energy infrastructure markets. All operating numbers show significant growth and their strategy of selective acquisitions continues.

In future articles in this series, I'll feature all the automation majors: Honeywell, GE, Invensys, Yokogawa, Omron, Siemens. A notable exception is Rockwell. For whatever reason - previous critical commentary, negative weblogs - Rockwell management is stubbornly avoiding discussions regarding the corporate culture. I've approached CEO Keith Nosbusch and senior management directly, but they didn't want to talk. Whatodo?

To expand this series, I'm now working on reviewing the next generation of automation leaders - companies that are approaching, or have already crossed the crucial $100M barrier. This includes companies like OSI SOFT and MTL. There are several German companies - the "mittelstand" - like Phoenix Contact, Endress + Hauser, and Pepperl + Fuchs, that will come into view soon.

If you have any suggestions for review of other automation companies in the revenue range of $100M to $1B, please get in touch.

Click Automation.com - Corporate Culture series

Click JimPinto.com - Company Commentary

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10 steps to finding the right job

The Internet has become the primary source for large companies hiring new employees. This according to a survey conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton for the Direct Employers Association.

The Internet produced 51% of all new hires last year. The largest source of hires was employers' own corporate Web sites. Newspaper classified ads generated only 5% new hires. The percentages of new hires from Internet sources are:

  • Corporate employment Web sites 21%
  • General job boards 15%
  • Niche job boards 6%
  • Social network Web sites 5%
  • Commercial resume databases 4%
Employers said they receive the highest quality candidates and best-cost returns from their own corporate web sites, and from employee referrals. General job boards got 27% of recruitment advertising budgets last year, but employers in the survey said such boards generated only 15% of new hires.

My advice for job seekers - find the right employment search-firm ("head-hunter"). That's not easy; don't pick the first one you find. Register with more than one. A good one will expect exclusivity; before you sign anything, make sure there is a time limit, and define the conditions for doing your own search.

If you're unemployed, it's time to REALLY consider what you'd REALLY LIKE to do. Don't look for a similar job in a similar company. If you're an engineer, maybe this is a good time to get into sales or marketing, or start a different job in a totally different type of company. Find something you LIKE to do.

Here are 10 steps to landing the right job for yourself:

  1. Looking for a job is a full-time job (40-hour week). Don't feel unemployed. Develop a good attitude about your own value.
  2. Determine where (location) you want to live and work. Search for suitable employers in that area; slowly expand the area to easy commuting distance. Don't miss a nearby great company.
  3. Study the employer's website for specific openings, and then study the company - products, markets, sales cannels, financial track record, corporate culture. Get the names of key individuals. Do you know someone who already works there? Talk with them first.
  4. Measure yourself against their needs. Don't stretch your resume just to get an interview; if you don't fit, you may be wasting your time. Don't look just for pay - look for things like employee ownership and performance incentives. Look for a position that suits your plan for yourself.
  5. Don't mail your resume to "Human Resources", or to a title. Find an individual's name and first call that person to introduce yourself. See if you can get started with some email questions.
  6. Discuss your specific knowledge of the company and its needs (gleaned from the Internet) plus your specific fit for the job.
  7. Mail, fax or email your 1-page resume directly to that person. Few people will read 2 or 3 pages till the interview.
  8. When you visit, don't just be interviewed. Ask specific questions about the company, the products, markets, growth plans. Ask people you're talking with about themselves. Ask to be shown around - take interest in the people, the culture, the facilities.
  9. When asked what you'd like to be paid, don't act greedy, or anxious. Don't give that lame old response, "This is what I make now." Ask what the position pays? What are the prospects for advancement?
  10. Don't agree to anything at the interview. Ask for a formal offer, and suggest that you'll think about it. And think about it. Is this a company you can be excited about? Is this a job where you can spend the next 10 years? Don't accept the first offer that comes along. Respect your own value. Ideally, you should choose between 2 or 3 offers. Don't go to the highest bidder. Pick the company you can be happy with in the long term, that values YOU the most.

Hey, you experienced job-seekers out there, if you can suggest any improvements for these "10 rules" please send me some feedback. Search professionals, I'll welcome your comments.

Click Internet is the Primary Hiring Source for Employers

Click Advice For Landing The Right Job

Click Optimistic, Realistic, Persistent: Tips for Landing the Right Job

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ISA InTech Pinto's Points

InTech, the ISA magazine, publishes a regular (weekly) eNews on their website which includes a "Pinto Point". Each is an item which will stimulate your thinking - technical trends, market musings, sales solutions, business briefs.

Here are some of the recent (2006) Pinto's Points:

  • Growth shifts to new arenas
  • What end-users should know about suppliers
  • New global business models
  • Why high oil prices are good
  • Podcasts: Listen while you walk/work/drive
  • Steve Jobs: 'You've got to do what you love'
  • New products for a new business environment
  • The future of work
  • The end of e-mail
  • Chindia: Crouching tiger, hidden dragon
  • Chuck Knight's new book: Performance without Compromise
  • Innovation is the key to success
  • History of the PLC
  • Peter Drucker's lasting impact
  • The future of the Internet
  • The rebirth of television
  • RFID generates supply-chain information value
  • Chips on a cuff: Clothing that thinks
For those of you who prefer to LISTEN while you jog, work or drive, audio MP3 versions are now available (past few weeks). You can simply play on your computer, or copy to your CD to listen later. Too, you can submit the RSS link to iTunes, or your aggregator, to download automatically to your iPod or MP3 player.

My book - Pinto's Points - How to win in the automation business - was based on items previously published weekly on the InTech eNews, since March 2001. This book is still doing very well, and hopefully, (with your help) will be the ISA best-seller for 2006. If you haven't read it yet, get your own copy now (links below).

Click Links to all Pinto's Points in the ISA archives:

Click MP3 audio RSS/XML link to submit to podcast aggregator

Click Pinto's Points - Read the complete Table of Contents

Click Buy an AUTOGRAPHED COPY of Pinto's Points

Click Order your copy of Pinto's Points from the ISA website

Click Order Pinto's Points from Amazon.com

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Tech Futures: New robots shapes & sizes

The shapes of robots are changing. In the past, the biggest uses for robots were heavy industrial tasks like assembly-line welding, paint-spray and numerically controlled machine tools. But now home uses are proliferating - vacuum cleaners, toys and pets. And physical appearance - warm & cuddly personalities - are becoming important.

The robotic toys shown at the American International Toy Fair, New York, in February 2006, had furry pelts and cute faces. Even traditional robots are being re-designed to have more "personality".

There are other new applications. Tiny robotic mechanisms can be integrated into the body of insects, so that they can be remotely controlled. to check out explosives and send remote information.

This idea comes from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to advance US military technological superiority. In the metamorphic pupa stages, the bodies of dragonflies and moths go through a renewal process that can heal wounds and reposition internal organs around foreign objects such as tiny micro-systems. When the insect is fully developed they can be remotely controlled. So there'll be assembly-line like fabrication of insect-robots which can transmit data from their sensors in remote environments.

Others are developing modular robots - identical components each capable of moving on their own, but also able to attach to one another. The modular robot can move as a complete unit, built up of say 100 smaller parts, but capable of moving as smaller pieces to get past narrow openings. Once the restriction is passed, the smaller robots can recombine into the larger whole, enabling travel over different types of terrain. Usage example: Send through narrow opening into earthquake zones or collapsed mines, to save trapped people.

Think about all the new kinds of tiny robots that can find use in the industrial automation environments.

Click The shape of Robots to come

Click Mobile Robots Shift into Shapes

Click Pentagon plans cyber-insect army

Click San Diego lab developing robots for battlefield use

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Why doesn't America have a woman President?

In the ABC TV series "Commander-in-Chief", Geena Davis plays the woman who becomes the first female to occupy the Oval Office. In addition to her duties as the President, she juggles the responsibilities of a career mom with an executive husband, twin teenagers and a six-year-old.

I watched "Commander-in-Chief" whenever I could, and recorded it on my TIVO when I couldn't. Each episode in the series featured a serious problem which was solved through womanly intuition, or with a feminine sense of fair-play - as contrasted with GWBush-like "bring 'em on" macho-ism.

I've often felt that many of America's problems could be solved by a woman. There are six female presidents worldwide, four female prime ministers. The closest the US has ever come to having a woman in the White House is Geraldine Feraro, who ran as the VP candidate with Walter Mondale in 1984. Other than that, here's a listing of women at the top of the political ranks in the US:

  • 4 women sit on the President's Cabinet (out of 15)
  • 14 female Senators (out of 100)
  • 69 females in the House of Representatives (out of 435)
  • When Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down from the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginzburg remains the only female left.
So, will it be Hillary Clinton vs. Condoleezza Rice in 2008? Somehow, suggestions like that quickly stimulate male-chauvinistic comments which (in my opinion) are despicable. One wonders why America is so averse to having a woman President.

That inimitable sage, Andy Rooney, said this on CBS' 60 minutes:

    "Every time I think about it - which isn't very often - I think how wrong it is that we've never had a woman president of the US. How did that happen?

    "There has never been one American woman smart enough to be president? There isn't a single woman alive as capable as George W. Bush?

    "We don't know who is smarter, men or women. There have been IQ tests over the years, but the results never conclusively determine any intellectual superiority for either sex. It's interesting, though, that last year for every 133,000 women who graduated from college, only 100,000 men graduated.

    "Our failure to elect a woman isn't because of any conspiracy by men. There are 146 million men in the United States and 151 million women and one of the things that makes it strange that we have never had a woman president is that more women than men vote. It must be that even women don't vote for a woman.

    "If there's some doubt about whether men or women are smarter, there's no doubt about other male and female characteristics. For example, it seems as though women are nicer people than men. They're apparently more honest than men, too. There are 2,270,000 people in prison in the US and only 7% of them are women. The other 93% are men. Of course, it could be that women aren't more honest, they're just smarter at not getting caught.

    "Women's brains don't go about solving problems the same way men's brains do - that's a personal opinion of mine - but it would be hard to say which way is better.

    "We're one of the few countries in the world that has never had a woman chief executive. Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister of Great Britain three times. Lots of countries have elected women presidents - Argentina, Iceland, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Ecuador. Right now Finland, Ireland, Liberia and Chile have women presidents.

    "Not that I'm going to move to any of those countries because of it."

Hey, what do YOU think? Why doesn't America have a woman President? When will that happen?

Click Andy Rooney - A Woman President

Click Can a woman be President?

Click 72% Say They're Willing to Vote for Woman President

Click Will a Woman be President?

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John Carver [john.carver@ukgateway.net] wrote this regarding my book review of "Confessions of an economic hit man":
    "Good to see this book recommended in your newsletter! We've always known this sort of thing goes on, but its useful to have it confirmed, and to have a few details filled in. I suspect it was going on a long time before Mossadeq. However I think it would be much too simplistic to identify America as the sole villain. Power is much more international than that.

    "Another book I can recommend: "A Century of War - Anglo American oil politics and the New World Order", by F. William Engdahl. I'm not saying I believe everything in it, but its certainly well worth reading. It gives an alternative perspective on the 20th Century. Having read this book, I couldn't take seriously any of the reasons they were giving us about why we had to invade Iraq."

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Walt Boyes [wboyes@ix.netcom.com] editor of CONTROL Magazine, wrote this about my participation in an immigration march:

    "Bravo on your marching, Jim!

    "My grandparents were immigrants, at a time that there weren't all the restrictive laws on immigration that there are now. They became Americans, and contributed greatly to our society and culture. We need to open our borders, not shut them. We need to make immigrants welcome, not chase them home. Even the "native Americans" are immigrants from Siberia. Nobody is a "native" in America.

    "If you look at the arts, the sciences, the humanities, and the contribution to "American" art, science and letters, there are a huge number of first generation immigrants who made contributions out of proportion to their number, from Baron von Steuben and Alexander Hamilton, to Gutzon Borglum, and on to the present day.

    "I find myself (for the first time in a long time) completely in agreement with the Catholic Church on an issue, both as a Catholic and as a human being."

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Mandar Phadke [mandar_phadke@hotmail.com] has been visiting China for a work project, and has these observations on China's new architecture:

    "I am continuing to be amazed at several new things that are being built here in China. What is noteworthy is that none of these things make any strict economic sense. But then, most wonderful buildings like the Eiffel Tower, or the Sydney Opera House, would never have been built if decisions had been left to the bean counters.

    "It takes a lot of vision and guts to do these things. Even if they are not justified by the economics of the day, they always pay off in the long run. But for most of America is just surviving from quarter to quarter; the long-term is perhaps two quarters.

    "Most great businesses, or companies, or countries are not built in this quarter-to-quarter fashion to which we have somehow become slaves.

    "See the link below to know what I want to convey."

Click 10 Wonders of the New China - hotbed of innovative architecture

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