Monday, January 21, 2008

Just When You Thought You Were Facing Adversity...

A brief history of some of the "Adverse Conditions" I've faced in my career in recent years...

- Determining how to keep the center portion of the Gillette "Power Stripe" Deodorant from bleeding into the outer portions of the stick and still meet the quickly approaching product launch, what to do with the defective samples, and how to make this all happen without disrupting production schedules (while on Cooperative Education at the Gillette personal care products headquarters)

- While at Borg Warner in the Timing Components Division, we were developing the timing system for the totally new V8 engine that Nissan was about to introduce in their new line of full size trucks. The assembly plant couldn't explain why the tensioners were not retaining the springs during assembly and had to halt all production until a resolution could be found since there was a risk of personal injury to the person assembling the engine and/or engine failure. Since the engineers in Japan could not make it to the assembly plant in time, it was up to me and the engineer heading up the project state-side to determine the root cause and keep production moving.

- Integrating a newly acquired minimally invasive Image Guided Surgery (IGS) system into the product line of a small medical device start-up company I was working for named Z-KAT ( also on an engineering Cooperative Education assignment. Determine how to set up, run, and train the staff on the system in cooperation with the surgeons on staff. Set up Quality Control Systems.

- Develop a chassis, sub-frame structure, body, interior, and electrical system (in what was mostly a two man team in about two years) for an exotic car capable of 200+ mph, 0-60 mph in 3.0 sec., use a Corvette engine and Porsche gearbox, make it street legal, and oh yeah, the customer has to be able to build it in his garage with simple hand tools and minimum to average skill level.

At the time, all of these tasks seemed very daunting. Probably because they all occurred when I was about 21-26 years old (I'm 28 now), and I only had a limited knowledge of engineering principles/practices.

I was reminded today, the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King and his life's work, that
many of the strides he made for civil rights such as leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott (which centered in large part around the now infamous Rosa Parks) were made at the same age I faced what I thought were formidable challenges.

I wasn't making legal history, or inspiring and entire nation to stare adversity in the face and accept nothing but unconditional equality of life, but the thought occurred to me today that there is something in common between the two that turned the adversity into victory: having the vision - a "dream" as Dr. King put it - to see the course and maintain that course until victory was realized.

So now, when I look at the task ahead for our team at Local Motors, and when I think of the nay-sayers that tell us that forming a car company can't be done in today's market, the task seems easy when compared to the march to victory made by Dr. King and those like him.

With all of those that believe standing firm behind us we'll just tell them,

"We have a dream..."


Local Motorhead said...

Well said.

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