Workshop In An Alternate Homepower Environment

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F. George McDuffee wrote:

A visit to Newton might provide some insights. Spending a bit of time inside Maytag's headquarters, R&D facility, and manufacturing areas might leave you wondering why it's taken so long for this to happen.

The threat to Whirlpool is certainly /possible/; but not a given. It will take a fair amount of time and a huge expenditure of resources to bring Maytag to the point where it's again sufficiently robust to threaten Whirlpool. It could happen, but only if Whirlpool management allows it to happen.

This seems like a logical conclusion - but it might be worth investigating to find out how many of these people Maytag directly employs and what their average age is...

Hmm. I'm not sure how you've reached your conclusion; but my own opinion (formed by direct observation) is that it's unlikely that the Chinese will value the current Maytag employees less than the old management. The major differences, I suspect, will be that outsourced operations will be relocated from Germany and Mexico to the Pacific Rim.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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<snip>

=========>Hmm. I'm not sure how you've reached your conclusion; but my own

==================To put it another way -- If you are going Vegas or Atlantic City, it is expected that you will use your own money to gamble. If you use the company's money and are discovered you go to jail. Even if you win, the winnings belong to the company and not to you [common law master/servant rule] .
The way it is now, individuals are making high stakes bets, and keeping the winnings if they win and making other people eat the losses if the lose.
If I sell you a machine that I don't own and keep the money for myself and get caught, I will be put in jail and the legal owner can recover the machine. Why is it any different with a corporation? What will the individual managers of Maytag lose by this move after they have run the company into the ground? How many collected bonuses over the last few years? How much will the US taxpayers have to pony up for the pensions?
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F. George McDuffee wrote:

Lose? Nothing at all. Their resumes will reflect that they brokered a desirable transfer of ownership on behalf of their shareholders.
Lotsa bonus dollars paid out. Not sure what'll happen to the value of Ralph Hakes' million dollar home in Newton (probably don't need to tell you that a million dollar home in a small town in Iowa bears astonishingly little resemblance to a million dollar home in say, San Francisco or Fairfax), but doubt that he's too concerned about real estate values at the moment.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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<snip>

<snip> An insightful comment and one I missed the first time I read your response.
It would be interesting to know how much in deductions the corporation took on their tax returns over the last 5 or 10 years for market research and product R&D. Article in Wed. June 22 WSJ discusses shift in consumer priorities for major appliances from stolid dependability to flash and glitz, which may help explain why the "dependability people" are now in deep do-do.
On the other hand, flash and glitz are only skin deep, and how much can it cost and how long can it take to have a design studio "re-skin" a washer or drier, and how much can it cost to shoot metal flake paint in place of white? As an aside, the American people deserve what they get on this one….
In response to another reply, the questions about the likely outcomes for senior management were rhetorical, although your detailed answers were insightful. This helps explain the "shortage" of engineers and the rapidly declining number of engineering students. Even the "nerdest" engineer can look up/around and see that while they (and the rest of the "product" people) are taking it in the shorts big time, management and finance are riding off with full boodle bags. While both groups will have some time off, for the product people it will be a mad scramble for another job so they can keep the house and the car, while the management and finance people are resting in Cancun.
Do you happen to know if the Maytag pension plans are fully funded, or is this another "debt bomb" that will be lobbed into the PBGC? How about medical care for current retirees? Off Maytag and onto the taxpayers through Medicare?
We need something more than biased B-school case studies. What do you think of an economic/financial equivalent to the NTSB that would investigate major corporate "crash and burn" cases? These could well be a job for Dr. Kavorikan and not a "crash-cart" and life-support situation.
In the aggregate the major loss/damage caused by not only Maytag, but also Enron, Tyco, Ford, EMC, Delta, American, etc., etc., is a total loss of confidence in the competence and motives of management by not only their employees, but the majority of stockholders and the American people.
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I know even a vacuum 5 gal cleaner looks like a toy-yo-yo all fancy & you can't even dump it like the old ones all curves so much you have to turn it upside down to dump it. & "Linda Lovelace" would be ashamed of the way they suck....
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F. George McDuffee expostulated:
| It would be interesting to know how much in deductions the | corporation took on their tax returns over the last 5 or 10 years | for market research and product R&D. Article in Wed. June 22 WSJ | discusses shift in consumer priorities for major appliances from | stolid dependability to flash and glitz, which may help explain | why the "dependability people" are now in deep do-do.
It's probably worthwhile to take note of the fact that I'm not a "Maytag Expert" and that I can't provide very much more than firsthand observations (that may or may not be safe to use as the basis for generalizations) and inexpert opinion - garnered while working as a software consultant with their R&D group. Since all of the products under development of which I had knowledge have been announced and/or shipped, I'm free to speak openly.
On the R&D side, Maytag has extraordinarily competent engineers and researchers who're as enthusiastic and eager as any I've ever seen elsewhere. There aren't many of them - and they seemed much under-appreciated by their management. My thought was (and remains) that any of Maytag's competitors could ruin the firm simply by offering this one engineering group an industry competive wage and management guaranteed to provide genuine appreciation of past and future accomplishments. With careful research, a competitor could simultaneously put Maytag's future in grave jeopardy and greatly enhance their own prospects for as little as $500K/year. In my mind, for a Fortune 300 company this is tantamount to gross negligence on the part of management.
| On the other hand, flash and glitz are only skin deep, and how | much can it cost and how long can it take to have a design studio | "re-skin" a washer or drier, and how much can it cost to shoot | metal flake paint in place of white? As an aside, the American | people deserve what they get on this one..
Flash and glitz /are/ cheap and easy. Solid dependability and quality of function are more difficult and generally expensive to achieve - no surprises here. My task as a consultant was to provide a technical solution that was expected to drasticly reduce that expense. I provided the requested solution (which incorporated solutions to the usual variety of unanticipated side issues) and to the best of my knowlege, that package was shelved because it required a degree of interdepartmental cooperation/communication that too many of the first-line development managers weren't prepared to exercise. (Bummer!)
A related issue had to do with more than healthy managerial resistance to technology more advanced than a motor-driven cycle controller - even after their horizontal-axis (front loading) Neptune washer had provided proof positive that micros are here to stay! I was by definition a "short timer" and that attitude was grindingly frustrating to me. I don't want to think about how frustrating it has to be for the R&D folks who're intending to stay with Maytag for the long haul...
| In response to another reply, the questions about the likely | outcomes for senior management were rhetorical, although your | detailed answers were insightful. This helps explain the | "shortage" of engineers and the rapidly declining number of | engineering students. Even the "nerdest" engineer can look | up/around and see that while they (and the rest of the "product" | people) are taking it in the shorts big time, management and | finance are riding off with full boodle bags. While both groups | will have some time off, for the product people it will be a mad | scramble for another job so they can keep the house and the car, | while the management and finance people are resting in Cancun. | | Do you happen to know if the Maytag pension plans are fully | funded, or is this another "debt bomb" that will be lobbed into | the PBGC? How about medical care for current retirees? Off | Maytag and onto the taxpayers through Medicare?
I don't know. Actually, I didn't pay much attention to anything unrelated to R&D and/or some specific product development. I sat through (too many) meetings and took notice of what was being said about the technology and politics involved with getting the vertical-axis (top loading) Neptune product working and out the door - and the implementation of a methodology to streamline development of all future cycle-based "whiteware".
| We need something more than biased B-school case studies. What do | you think of an economic/financial equivalent to the NTSB that | would investigate major corporate "crash and burn" cases? These | could well be a job for Dr. Kavorikan and not a "crash-cart" and | life-support situation. | | In the aggregate the major loss/damage caused by not only Maytag, | but also Enron, Tyco, Ford, EMC, Delta, American, etc., etc., is | a total loss of confidence in the competence and motives of | management by not only their employees, but the majority of | stockholders and the American people.
I'd encourage you to make an at least internal distinction between failures resulting from fundamental dishonesty with intent to defraud - and failures resulting from stupidity, lack of due diligence, etc. on the part of fundamentally well-intentioned people. If I were to choose a single cause for Maytag's failure to thrive (which would be a huge over-simplification), that cause would be the selection of a succession of CEO's who lacked the wisdom to define success and to lead their people in that direction.
Your summary is basically true; but would you really expect that a government agency /could/ do more than throw good money after bad in these cases? If so, you're far more optimistic than I'd dare to be.
One final comment. One of my first questions after starting work at Maytag (and I did ask every single person I worked with) was: "What does it take to make dirty clothes clean?". What I was after were things like how much water per pound of clothes during wash and rinse, how much agitation, how much cleaning agent, etc. with some kind of mathematical relationships and some numbers. No one knew! I was (and still am) dumbfounded that no one at Maytag had ever made a serious effort to define in engineering terms what it takes to make clothes clean. Think about the implications of that tidbit as you ponder business failure causes...
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto /
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Fantastic analysis and insight. Depressing though.
While working on my doctorate I took several HRD/HRM classes which were mainly case studies. I was astounded by the number of firms with management that had to hire consultants to find out what it was they were producing, how they were producing it, what workers they had, who they were producing it for, and most critical, how it worked.
In several of the cases that were about 10-15 years apart, the general descriptions of the firms were very similar. Some checking indicates that these indeed were the same companies with the same questions. FWIW, these companies are again in the news, teetering on bankruptcy.
You may be right on a "corporate accident investigation board." While the NTSB does an exemplary job of in-depth analysis or major accidents, their efforts are too often short-circuited by the standard "pilot error" explication [if the pilots died] by the FAA, and then ignored. I am sure the same thing would occur with the SEC. We won't bother to mention the FDA.
Good luck on your consulting. ==================================On Thu, 23 Jun 2005 17:39:39 -0500, "Morris Dovey"

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wrote:

My impression of themis one of overpriced stuff that's no better than anyone else's.
Perhaps unerelated ... Sears seems to like to sell models that they (Sears) are the sole supplier of spare parts for .... so take a standard model, rebadge it & alter a few key failure prone or consumable items ...
--
Cliff

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Cliff expostulated:
| On Thu, 23 Jun 2005 17:39:39 -0500, "Morris Dovey"
| || Maytag | | My impression of themis one of overpriced stuff that's | no better than anyone else's.
Their top end (like their competitors' top end) products /are/ highly priced. In at least Maytag's case the top end products are, in fact, as good as they can make 'em. The R&D guys actually talk to the production assemblers, pay attention to what they say, and make product changes on the basis of their suggestions. More usually (elsewhere) an assembly person has to tell a foreman who might or might not tell a supervisor - and so on up the ladder until there's an information "bridge" back down the chain to the R&D guys.
The Maytag link to the customer call center is disconcertingly direct. When I first arrived I had a "recycled" R&D phone number and got calls from CS call center operators demanding that problems be fixed *RIGHT NOW!* That I wasn't the person they thought they were calling didn't seem to make any difference - nor did the fact that I wasn't even a Maytag employee. One gal told me that didn't matter and that I'd better get up off my butt and *FIND OUT* who should be fixing this problem and make 'em aware of it and have them get back to her posthaste.
Maytag could never get away with showing a commercial of that scene (can't admit right out loud in front of God and everybody that someone's had a problem with /our/ product!); but after I came out of shock I decided it was actually pretty impressive. Again, it's noteworthy that in all of these "hot" calls the communication was between "indians".
Convinced me that Maytag's problems are top-down rather than bottom-up.
I'm not in a position to comment on "overpriced" - but I think that when someone buys a washing machine (or whatever), not all of what's being purchased arrives on the delivery truck.
Hmm. Reminds me of some current threads about CNC equipment and perceived value (or lack thereof) of customer support organizations.
| Perhaps unerelated ... Sears seems to like to | sell models that they (Sears) are the sole supplier | of spare parts for .... so take a standard model, | rebadge it & alter a few key failure prone or | consumable items ...
That would match up pretty well with some of the (very biased) comments I heard voiced around Newton. :-)
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/solar.html
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wrote:

None of that would give any hint of what actually failed in the field and flooded out the end customer or anything similar. For that you'd need to know what went wrong, not just how to make it cheaper.
--
Cliff

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Cliff (in snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com) said:
| On Fri, 24 Jun 2005 19:10:57 -0500, "Morris Dovey"
| || Cliff expostulated: || ||| On Thu, 23 Jun 2005 17:39:39 -0500, "Morris Dovey"
||| |||| Maytag ||| ||| My impression of themis one of overpriced stuff that's ||| no better than anyone else's. || || Their top end (like their competitors' top end) products /are/ || highly priced. In at least Maytag's case the top end products are, || in fact, as good as they can make 'em. The R&D guys actually talk || to the production assemblers, pay attention to what they say, and || make product changes on the basis of their suggestions. More || usually (elsewhere) an assembly person has to tell a foreman who || might or might not tell a supervisor - and so on up the ladder || until there's an information "bridge" back down the chain to the || R&D guys. | | None of that would give any hint of what actually failed in the | field and flooded out the end customer or anything similar. | For that you'd need to know what went wrong, not just | how to make it cheaper.
Of course. Did the paragraphs following the one you quoted make it to your server? If not:
<< The Maytag link to the customer call center is disconcertingly direct. When I first arrived I had a "recycled" R&D phone number and got calls from CS call center operators demanding that problems be fixed *RIGHT NOW!* That I wasn't the person they thought they were calling didn't seem to make any difference - nor did the fact that I wasn't even a Maytag employee. One gal told me that didn't matter and that I'd better get up off my butt and FIND OUT who should be fixing this problem and make 'em aware of it and have them get back to her posthaste.
Maytag could never get away with showing a commercial of that scene (can't admit right out loud in front of God and everybody that someone's had a problem with our product!); but after I came out of shock I decided it was actually pretty impressive. Again, it's noteworthy that in all of these "hot" calls the communication was between "indians". >>
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/solar.html
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wrote:

They made it but did not seem to be on that issue. Perhaps you had to be there?
--
Cliff

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Cliff (in snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com) said:
| On Sun, 26 Jun 2005 14:19:28 -0500, "Morris Dovey"
| ||| None of that would give any hint of what actually failed in the ||| field and flooded out the end customer or anything similar. ||| For that you'd need to know what went wrong, not just ||| how to make it cheaper. || || Of course. Did the paragraphs following the one you quoted make it || to your server? If not: | | They made it but did not seem to be on that issue. | Perhaps you had to be there?
Oops. Sorry, I may have assumed too much. Customer service call center operators take calls from customers (and sometimes from dealers) when there's either a problem or a how-to issue. Maytag's call center had several hundred people and these operators seemed to have been more knowledgable than I'd expected, given the number of products and models supported.
Cost seemed to be a secondary consideration to these people. Their mission (/their/ mission if not the corporation's) was to resolve any issues to the satisfaction of the customer. If/when they thought the issue was a consequence of design, even if the use was unusual, they weren't bashful about letting the R&D group know about it. I think part of their motivation was "Golden Rule" and part of it was workload reduction (fewer future service calls for the same problem). Although I didn't have a lot of contact with CS, I'm aware that even when the problem was something the customer had done wrong (there actually /are/ people who'll put a half box of detergent in with a single load of clothes!) they tried to make a follow-up call sometime /after/ problem resolution to verify satisfaction.
CS isn't a cost reducing function. More usually it adds cost - since they provide the information leading to engineering changes for released products. I'm not aware of any instance where their input ever led to making the product cheaper. I suppose it could happen, but I didn't see it.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/solar.html
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On Wed, 22 Jun 2005 07:50:58 -0700, F. George McDuffee

IIRC Whirlpool is already in big trouble.
--
Cliff

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As a followon to another post I just made, see WSJ article Wed June 22 on this.
I ask the same question about Whirlpool that I asked about Maytag. How much did they claim on their tax returns for market research and product R&D over the last 5 to 10 years? It is clear they did not do any. The apparent choices are "management malpractice," or "management malpractace" and tax fraud.
Any chance to "claw back" some of the management bonuses and/or "differed compensation"?
wrote: <snip>

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F. George McDuffee expostulated:
| As a followon to another post I just made, see WSJ article Wed | June 22 on this. | | I ask the same question about Whirlpool that I asked about | Maytag. How much did they claim on their tax returns for market | research and product R&D over the last 5 to 10 years? It is | clear they did not do any.
I think you're mistaken. Whilrpool has introduced some well-developed new products (this according to engineering folks at one of their main competitors) and I've purchased a number (more than a half dozen) of top rate new Kitchen-Aid (a Whirlpool brand) appliances for my own home. The folks at Maytag weren't exactly thrilled to hear me praise Whirlpool/Kitchen-Aid, but did pay close attention when I listed the features I liked best.
I have to believe thay spent some reasonable amount of R&D money to produce just the products I happened to buy - and that new products don't just appear gratis on some design engineer's CAD screen. FWIW, I suspect that they spent really serious money developing their "Duet" laundry appliances.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/solar.html
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wrote:

I once met their engineer that suggested replacing all those custom hoses, fittings, pumps, etc. on their washing machine models with a single set of standard ones. I gather that they did it.
To this day I wonder how they got the contract for the toilet(s) on the International Space Station.
BTW, They used to use ComputerVision IIRC.
--
Cliff

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Cliff (in snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com) said:
| On Fri, 24 Jun 2005 20:47:34 -0500, "Morris Dovey"
| || Whirlpool | | I once met their engineer that suggested replacing | all those custom hoses, fittings, pumps, etc. on their | washing machine models with a single set of standard | ones. I gather that they did it.
Seems like a "no-brainer to me" - though the no-brainer solutions are sometimes the most difficult to get approved.
One of the other no-brainers (for CPU-controlled washers) should be to allow either hose to connect to hot and the other to the cold water supply. The controllers monitor both temperatures and control the flow valves independently anyway...
| To this day I wonder how they got the contract for | the toilet(s) on the International Space Station.
Interesting - I wasn't aware they'd done that.
| BTW, They used to use ComputerVision IIRC.
Ok. My primary software tools were gcc, Visual C, and Excel (in order of high to low quality) - No CAD/CAM needed for what I was doing. I did notice that the mechanical engineering types had some pretty nifty packages for designing gears 'n' stuff, though. One of the guys took time to teach me a bit about making gear trains quiet - and that was so fascinating I skipped lunch. (I suppose that makes both he and I hopeless geeks :-)
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/solar.html
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On Wed, 22 Jun 2005 07:50:58 -0700, F. George McDuffee

I'll point out the GE does not run unprofitable divisoins for a great length of time and has been in the home appliance business for a LONG time as such things go. http://www.geappliances.com/ Two decades ago they were a leader in the use of 3D CAD/CAM systems at their Appliance Park facility near Louisville, KY. Probably the first 3D sheetmetal software for 3D CAD/CAM came out of their efforts ...
--
Cliff

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On Tue, 21 Jun 2005 16:02:08 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@slp53.sl.home (Scott Lurndal) wrote:

It's probably still there, in one form or another. Plants get closed & the name brand is now another imported product. Often of an unknown quality.
--
Cliff

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