1. Do you think Jim's assessment of the state of creativity in the pulp and paper industry is correct?
1 It's certainly true of my company and accounts for the difficult position we find ourselves in. And mine is a private company, which Jim contends is more likely to be innovative. 2 Unfortunately and it does not look to get better as time rolls along. 3 Partially correct, but there are people bordering on "kooky" in some of the larger companies, too. 4 VERY true. I got fed up with the reluctance of my bosses to adopt innovative ideas, so went to consulting, because the (then) small company was great to work in. Then to consulting on my own. At least my (then) innovative ideas on using computers allowed me to compete with the big guys, make a good living and have fun. As I matured I became more tolerant the lack of innovation in the pulp and paper industry, and wondered how it survived. You know the current result. I guess I should have quit the industry and gone to another one, but consulting paid well and allowed freedom to mix hard work spells with chunks of time off 5 Maybe part of the sorry also is that papermaking (like some other 'traditional' industries) requires a different kind of craftsmanship than what only spreadsheets may tell you. 6 Jim, Part of it stems from (I believe) your farm roots; i.e. the same as mine. If we were not innovative in that environment we would soon be out of business. The good part is we can take that skill into the manufacturing world and see things others seem not to recognize--but it's rewarding although sometimes frustrating. 7 Taking risks inevitably leads to some measure of failure and that is inevitably punished. I'm appalled, the long I work in the industry at how many people are simply getting by - doing just enough to stay under the radar. I believe the consolidation the last few years has hurt this even more - I'm ready to scream every time I hear folks say - "I'm just thankful to have a job". Really? You might be better off having to actually get up, dust off your intellect and put it to good use. 8 Jim is spot on, but someone needs to proofread these questions. What is "Doo?" (That was a test to make sure you were reading this carefully--Jim) 9 I'm retired, but I think our focus on tons and up-time led us to be conservative and not take many risks. Changes were OK, as long as we put good tons out the door. 10 I agree that smaller private companies tend to be much more creative and his assessment of the pathology at big companies is spot on. 11 Unfortunately true. The boss of Johnson Wax agrees on the "private" advantage. In fairness to the others, large shareholders or private companies are more likely to take a chance. 12 I believe innovation and creativity are discouraged in the industry. P&P companies are risk averse to the point of putting themselves at risk.
2. Do you think creativity is discouraged in the pulp and paper industry?
1 I come from a research and process development background in another industry. I see little or nothing or that sort in the P&P industry. I'm not sure that creativity is being discouraged so much as not being encouraged. 2 Creativity is welcomed and encouraged in organizations throughout our industry...as long as there is no risk associated with it. 3 I have seen too many young, bright engineers and technicians, squeezed out by managers already promoted beyond their level of competence. 4 It depends on the company. Our mill was innovative but we were too late, though we did start as part of a larger company and continued once allowed to go private. 5 No you can't run a trial the PM isn't running well! No you can't run a trial the PM is running well & we don't want to disturb it! Not uncommon in my mill. So when do you run trials? 6 Indeed, the way 'performance’ is measured, operational as well as financial, inhibits disturbances of 'common practice'. 7 Too many occasions where Wall Street is milking a dying cow. 8 Yes and No: Everyone TALKS about being creative, but I often see the creative minds being ignored ("That's not how we've always done it.", etc.) As a result, creativity hides as a form of self- protection. In my own experience, I have often championed new ideas in safety, productivity, and quality, only to get beat up. Then a year or two later, my ideas appear from senior management in a somewhat different package. Everyone praises the senior manager for having so much "leadership." 9 Perhaps more often it's overlooked!! GLS 10 We are as risk averse as they come. 11 Anything new is dangerous - even technology proven over and over again in other industries is slow to be adopted by conservative companies - likely because senior managers, who didn't have even the hint of computers when they started their careers 35 years ago, don't understand the full benefit possible by well-designed process control systems. I've heard a VP in our organization say over and over that DCS stands for Damn Costly Systems. Never mind that we have used those to drive scrap levels from 15% to 2% - still getting a new scanner approved is a huge process. (what does it say about our company that a scanner and QCS is "creative"?) 12 Yes, I've also tried to push it during my career. It's frustrating isn't it? NOTE: I worked for ABB for 8 years (someone creative); IP for 11+ years (sort of stifled). The only things that IP did creatively (and not so amazing) were 146 CIE whiteness paper in North America (my idea to introduce CIE Whiteness) and ColorLok(R), an idea brought to them by Hewlett Packard. 13 The focus may have shifted more to efficiency now, but there does not appear to be much that is really new. 14 Unfortunately, our government and society also discourages creativity through excessive command and control regulation and litigation 15 CYA Enuf said. (You know who)
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