Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Manchester, Seattle and Shanghai

Manchester was the birthplace of the industrial revolution. It was the herald of the globalised, capitalist society that we know today. No other city better deserves the title "Disruption City." Disruption has been our business. We have lived it for good and ill. We are living it still.

And so it is that Manchester has an incredible track-record of achievement and influence. It can claim the invention of modern computing (see 'The Baby', 'The Manchester Mark 1' and Alan Turing), the railway, atomic theory, splitting the atom, the birth of the women's movement, the social theories of Marx and Engels and the co-operative movement. We might also cite Rolls-Royce, Marks and Spencer and The Guardian. Then again, we could talk about Manchester United (and City, Bolton, Wigan, Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale, Bury and Macclesfield), A Clockwork Orange, the Halle Orchestra, Coronation Street, and a track-record in modern youth culture (from the Bee Gees to The Smiths and Oasis). Open the lens a little more broadly and the North-West of England offers up The Beatles, Liverpool FC, Stan Laurel, William Wordsworth, ....

Manchester Business School (MBS) has its part in this history, with the work of Stafford Beer and Enid Mumford associated with the school. It is also the school where we learn through doing (see Manchester Method and also Reg Revans).

Today, we introduce new thinking about the new age we live in. This blog is used as part of the MBA MIS course here in MBS. Of course, today, we live in a global, networked economy. To understand where new technology is taking us, we have to look to places like Seattle, Shanghai, Bangalore, Palo Alto and Walldorf. It is a new age, still just beginning, and it promises to leave old ideas redundant and new ideas ascendant.

The course starts with the ideas of Clayton Christensen, Ronald Coase & Larry Downes and Chunka Mui. Along the way, we will encounter many more like Geoffrey Moore, James Surowiecki, Raymond Kurzweil and Stafford Beer.

Perhaps there is no better promontory from which to study the global village in its information age than that provided by Manchester. Welcome!


Martin Cahill said...

Class post Peter. I also like the selection of cities. Next stop Shanghai!

Lei said...

I am very glad to see Shanghai in the list!

Peter said...

maybe the truth is that we have much to learn from Asia

Lei said...
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Lei said...
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Philip said...

Peter, Given your expertise in music I am surprised that you excluded Davy Jones (of The Monkees of course) from your 'made in Manchester' list.


Kenneth said...

Some other pioneering work in Manchester:

1. Japan learned its first practical version of Frederick Taylor's work study from Manchester in 1926 through Takeo Kato.

Metrovick had a famous 2 year Graduate Apprenticeship. This was essentially a graduate management training scheme which I took, finishing in 1948. One worked in pretty every department in that great company. In 1969, when I was living in Manhattan, I received a phone call from Peter Drucker (who I had met through my brother Will) to say he had someone he thought I should meet. It turned out to be engineer, consultant, Takeo Kato of Mitsubishi, a very important figure in 20th century Japanese industrial management. When he learned I had undergone MetVick's Graduate Apprenticeship, I could see his joy. "Mr. Hopper", he said, "there are only two kinds of engineers in the world: those who served a Graduate Apprenticeship with Metropolitan Vickers and those who did not." I found he had taken the same MV training course. Kato is credited with having brought the first practical version of Taylor's time study to Japan called "The Westinghouse System" - which he had learned at MV. (At that time I think Westinghouse owned MetroVick.)

2. In 1957, as Head of Mechanical Methods in Procter and Gamble in Trafford Park, I was had the job of making the first introduction of P&G's very effective version of worker participation outside the US. This had been developed by P&G Cincinnati engineer Arthur Spinanger. In 1979, thanks to Takeo Kato, I was able to go to Japan and meet, among others, Bunzaemon Inoue, under whose leadership Sumitomo Electric won its "epochmaking"(Professor Yoshio Kondo) 1962 Deming Prize. This was the first Deming Prize to be awarded that used extensive participation. I learned from Inoue that what we did in Manchester in 1957 was as at least as advanced as what was happening in Japan at that time!

In the late 1960s I was able to tour the US giving seminars on how factories should be managed based almost entirely on the way P&G managed its plant in Trafford Park in the 1940s and 1950s!

I hope this is of some interest.

Kenneth Hopper