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CE ROUNDTABLE

..unless the process of handling , customers is itself the focus of your effort. Contrary to popular notion, training won’t do it, nor will motivation, rapid response, or (believe it) top management attention. Changing the organizational structure helps a lot, but it’s undervalued by virtually everyone.

Chief Executive September 1 1989

The Struggle For NTT

Government bureaucrats are pushing for an AT&T-like break-up; normally reticent Japanese shareholders are furious at management for the stock’s nosedive in a strong Tokyo market; and the Recruit scandal, which brought down the last government as well as his predecessor, humbled the world’s second largest telecom. Haruo Yamaguchi’s predicament may have one bright side for U.S. technology firms-more orders.

Chief Executive September 1 1989

FROM THE EDITOR

Peter Drucker recently observed that the 1,000 richest people-everyone from the Sultan of Brunei to Ron Perelman and Henry Kravis-may [...]

Chief Executive September 1 1989

MISCELLANY

ANTHONY LEWIS,SMLA “Blacklist” will never work. Put some Sandinista on your blacklist and you probably guarantee him a MacArthur Genius Grant and a seat on the ACLU national board of directors. But maybe we can tear a page from the Tres Riches Heures of Tipper Gore and insist upon a rating system for music, film, television, and the Boston Globe editorial page. A warning would have to be prominently displayed: “OH-OH, A PERSON INVOLVED WITH THIS UNAPPEALING ITEM OF MASS COMMUNICATION HOLDS SILLY OPINIONS ON MALLERS ABOUT WHICH HE OR SHE IS LARGELY OR ABYSMALLY UNINFORMED.”There’d be three ratings: S = Silly; VS = Very silly; SML = Shirley MacLaine.Thus a rerun of “M*A*S*H” featuring Alan Alda would get an “S” rating. Any public pronouncement by a member of the innumerable Phoenix family, such as River, Leaf, Summer, Stump, Ditch, or Pond Scum Phoenix, would get a “VS” rating. And the next Tracy Chapman album will get an “SML” with oak leaf cluster.-P.J. O’Rourke, American SpectatorWHAT USED TO BE SHAME IS NOW PUBLICITYIf you say a modem celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert, and a drug addict, all it means is that you’ve read his autobiography.-P.J. O’Rourke, American Spectator CHILDREN: PRO…Children ask better questions than do adults. “May I have a cookie?” “Why is the sky blue?” and “What does a cow say?” are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than “Where’s your manuscript?” “Why haven’t you called?” and “Who’s your lawyer?”…AND CONChildren have decidedly little fashion sense and if left to their own devices will more often than not be drawn to garments of unfortunate cut. In this respect they do not differ greatly from the majority of their elders, but somehow one blames them more.-Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life PARTIS AVEC LE VENTThe most recent figures showed the U.S. trade deficit growing deeper again. The usual suspects have tsk-tsked that America is a debtor nation, that everyone everywhere is out-competing us, that we’re not innovative enough or productive enough, that Japan is a rising sun, that America is a setting sun.For another view of how the world spins, consider these trade facts and figures:In France the movie theaters basically show French movies and American movies. In Japan the movie theaters basically show Japanese movies and American movies. In Japan they show almost no French movies. In France they show almost no Japanese movies. In America the movie theaters basically show American movies.What’s going on? American movies-from “Rambo” to “Rain Man”-are very popular around the world.Perhaps we ought to stop complaining about “foreigners buying up America.” Are you concerned that the office building in which you work is owned by a Japanese bank? Don’t be. The building is going to stay right where it is; you’ll never know the difference. But how would you like it if you turned on your television and saw Japanese sitcoms? Or went to the movies and saw Japanese feature films? That’s real invasion, and more important than who made the widgets in your car.-Ben Wattenberg, Washington Times DEMOCRACY IS STRICTI was very impressed-and pleased-by how the transfer of power from Reagan to George Bush was accomplished. I attended the inauguration, and later when Reagan waved farewell, two women near me began to cry. They were very upset; they wanted Reagan to stay on. I am sure that many people in the U.S. felt the same way, but he could not stay. Democracy is a strict affair. I like that very much, and I thought that if we had had the same procedure, Stalin would have left in 1932, and he would not have had time to do anything. Brezhnev would have left in 1972. Democracy is a wonderful thing.What I sensed most keenly in the U.S. is that people make demands on their president, because they elect him by a relatively direct ballot. America has a great many shortcomings and a great many difficulties, but Americans have elected a new president, and instead of hanging up his portrait everywhere, they demand that he make America better.When I saw those women crying over Reagan, I recalled that I had never seen a single leader of the Soviet Union leave office of his own accord. Everybody died, except Khrushchev, who was overthrown.-Vitaly Korotich, editor of the Soviet magazine Ogonyok, in an interview with World Press Review ANYWHERE, WITH THE BEST OF COMPANYI’d like to be stuck on a slow boat to nowhere with Harry Truman, first of all to apologize for not voting for him. (It was the first time I voted, and I blew it.) He turned out to be a great President, with the guts to make some tough calls. But who could have known? He was a bankrupt haberdasher and a small-time machine politician who couldn’t even get his own mother-in-law to move out of the house. Who would have thought he could run a country?To me, Truman showed that common men are capable of uncommon leadership when they’re thrust into a miserable situation. Because of that, he’s a hero of mine.-From Iacocca: An Autobiography

Chief Executive September 1 1989

The Next Dimension Of Market Dominance

When cost and quality are commodities, response time to customer needs becomes the only competitive advantage. In the following roundtable, CEOs discuss what it takes to become a time-based competitor.

Chief Executive November 1 1989

Speak To Me, Janet

In an era when responsiveness to market needs defines one’s competitiveness, what’s a handy tool for slashing turnaround time? How about computers that respond to voice command?

Chief Executive November 1 1989

LETTERS

To the Editor:In “The Information Edge,” by Alexander D. Jacobson, chairman and CEO of Inference Corp. (March/April 1989), the author [...]

Chief Executive November 1 1989

MISCELLANY

MISCELLANY IMAGINE, INDEEDOne thing that Bush and Reagan clearly have in common is that both have been sold short by [...]

Chief Executive November 1 1989

SPEAKING OUT

About 10 or 15 years ago, strategic planning was a top fetish of corporate executives, especially CEOs. Everyone had strategic [...]

Chief Executive November 1 1989

VIEW FROM THE TOP

As results from a poll of 500 CE readers show, quality still reigns as the number one priority among CEOs. The question is, how can you win competitive advantage in a market where virtually every major competitor produces top quality at a relatively low cost?

Chief Executive November 1 1989

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