Dr. David Cole is the Chairman of AutoHarvest (autoharvest.org), a web based tool to accelerate innovation in the auto industry. Dr. Cole is Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research and a former Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan where he taught courses related to the automotive field for over 25 years. He is a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineering Society of Detroit and Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was recently elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame.
There is universal agreement across our economy that innovation is a critical success factor for any enterprise. However, the challenges are many in creating an innovative culture in an organization from “Not invented here” to “We don’t understand the technology”. The challenges are particularly severe in the manufacturing environment with its high capital costs, tough schedules and shortages of skilled people to name a few of the problems.
One particular challenge is the interface with smaller Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) companies that are often the source of some of the most significant innovation. In general, it is difficult for large organizations to relate to smaller ones, particularly very small ones that are often the source of cutting edge technology. The complex structure of large organizations is really quite formidable and often hampers effective introduction and utilization of new knowledge. The elephant and the mouse typically find it difficult to establish a relationship.