When the USC School of Business Administration presented its second International Award for Business Excellence at a luncheon in the Bonaventure last week, it was clear that the recipient took the award seriously.
Isao Nakauchi, chairman of Daiei, Japan's largest retailer, came from Tokyo and in a thoughtful acceptance speech talked of Japanese-style quality control circles, trade problems and cooperation among nations.
He also drew a big laugh with a comment about the state of Japanese business. "Loyalty to the firm is no longer a matter of course, and workers will not be satisfied unless they feel their work is both worthwhile and enjoyable. Who knows--the time may come when a day at work is more fun than Disneyland, and we can charge the employees admission instead of paying wages."
Now, there's a Japanese concept that won't find a market in the States.
Mea Non Culpa
We should be praising, not criticizing, those sophisticated computer programs that provide big investors with "portfolio insurance."
That's the conclusion of Wells Fargo Investment Advisors, a unit of the big California bank, that sought to figure out whether computer trading based on stock market indexes was responsible for the 508-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial index Oct. 19.
The controversial trading was not only innocent of blame for the crash, the bank said in a private report to clients, but should be praised for helping investors push down stock prices to levels that accurately reflected "the economic opinions of its participants."
Wells Fargo, of course, is the nation's largest institutional equity manager--and leading merchant of portfolio insurance.
A Cut Above the Rest
It's efficient. It's economical. It's revolutionary.
And the Schulman Double Umbilical Cord Clamp is so simple that its inventor, Los Angeles obstetrician Dr. Norman M. Schulman, hopes it won't be long before it becomes standard equipment in every taxicab and fire truck--let alone in every delivery room.
In one easy motion, the 2 1/2-inch long, disposable plastic device severs baby from mother and clamps off both ends of the umbilical cord. Traditionally, the procedure has required two surgical clamps, a scissors and the expense of washing and sterilizing reusable equipment.
But Schulman, who conceived the $6 clamp during a problem delivery, is more excited about saving a few seconds during emergency deliveries. "It's actually fun to use," he says. "Just clamping it, I originally felt a little like Clint Eastwood--like, 'Make my day.' "
Intel, a Santa Clara-based computer chip maker, discovered a silver lining amid the gloom of the stock market crash.
The company introduced a guaranteed pension benefit just weeks after the Dow's tumble sliced into the value of the market-sensitive retirement plans favored by most employers in Silicon Valley.
Intel's benefits counselors are not ignoring recent events as they explain the new program to workers. Sandy Scarsella, manager of compensation and benefits, says: "We can start those meetings off saying, 'Those of you depending on your stock investments to retire on: Have we got a deal for you!' "