It seems the time delay in your free business education might be permanent – at least until I get through the hell that is cover letter writing and interview prepping season. But better late than never! Here’s a rundown of the valuable tidbits I learned over the past two weeks:
Two-year-olds are natural operations consultants. This week in Operations class we learned about the Toyota Way – the method the company uses to keep improving its manufacturing process. Again. And again. And again.
Toyota uses a lot of tools to make this happen. There’s a cord that employees can pull when they see a defect in a product on the line. There’s a policy of working with suppliers to make sure they’re always improving their processes. And there’s a nifty parts distribution system that delivers each part to the worker at the exact time he makes it.
But another big piece is called the 5 whys. When Toyota has a problem, it keeps asking “why?” until it gets to the root of it.
All of which made me think that my friend Kristen’s two-year-old daughter Sofia could get a great management job at Toyota. After all, what do three-year-olds love more than asking why, over and over and over again?
SUVs always sell. I ran a luxury car company last week. At least, I did during a simulation. In an effort to harness our Type-A competitive tendencies, Darden pitted learning teams against each other in the auto industry. The company with the most net income and the highest stock price won.
After studying the market, we decided our customers wanted a luxury SUV. So we built the Bruner, named in honor of our b-school dean. And then I saw the economic forecast – gas was expected to jump to $5 a gallon.
I thought for sure it was going to be GM/Ford/Chrysler all over again.
But then, to my surprise, the Bruner sold out in the first year. And the second year. And the third year. We couldn’t make the monster fast enough.
The end result? We had one of the highest net incomes and best stock prices in our class. Not sure if that’s reflective of the real world, but…
Don’t worry about that trade deficit with China. This week in macroeconomics our Chinese professor told us to think about the United States as a company. USA Inc. has assets and liabilities.
Its liabilities are the treasury bills it sells to foreigners (like the Chinese). USA Inc. pays 3 percent to 4 percent.
It takes the money it gets from selling t-bills and does two things with it:
- Spends it (Americans heart shopping). This gives us 0 percent return.
- Invests it – often in China! And that money gives us a return of about 30 percent.
Our professor said the money we invest in China far outstrips the money we spend. In this scenario, USA Inc. looks like an investment bank and China looks like a factory.
So, who gets the better deal in this situation?