This year I am going to celebrate Independence day as Interdependence Day. I am going to let my US side and my Canadian sides work together. I invite you to join me, independently interdependent.
I just love Independence Day and its northern cousin, Canada Day. Actually, I remember Canada Day as Dominion Day, but that just proves I’m an old fogie with Canadian roots.
Independence Day is a US federal holiday commemorating our Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776. While most of us celebrate this holiday with patriotic displays, fireworks, cookouts, and much nationalistic fervor, I see this holiday as celebrating the triumph and coming of age of reason and representative government vs. the old myth of divine right of kings and blind obedience. To me Independence Day is as much about the wisdom and intellectual achievement of our founding fathers as it is about nationalistic pride.
My father would say “Son, you think too much.” He would probably be right, but hey, he kept me well stocked in books and allowed me all the freedom to read that a kid could have.
Unlike the US Independence Day holiday which recognizes separation, the Dominion Day Canada Day holiday recognizes the “uniting” of the 4 British North American colonies and the province of Canada (which ended up split into two provinces, Ontario and Quebec) into a new Kingdom- Canada, within the British Empire. This happened on July 1, 1867 according to the history books.
I was never able to understand that particular arrangement, as the King of Canada would have been the King of England. “How can the king of one country be the king of another country, and both be independent?” My Canadian mother never got it through my thoroughly US cranium, though she tried. But then again, I was an intellectually unruly child…
But the idea of the American side of my family celebrating independence and the Canadian side celebrating continued interdependence gives me the real subject for today’s blog:
This year I am going to celebrate Independence Day as Interdependence Day. I am going to let my US side and my Canadian sides work together. I invite you to join me, independently interdependent.
Here are four hallmarks of our independent interdependence:
- Diversity and Coexistence
- Sustainable Improvement
Citizenship to me is a code word for personal responsibility. To not do things against my own interest. Or against the interest of my “neighbors.” As individuals first, but also collectively. Citizenship includes loyalty to the principles of our Constitution, and obedience to lawful authority; But to me it is far more than that. Citizenship is a way of living in the world. Citizens are part of the solution process, not the problem.
Under my definition, BP right now has a “Citizenship Problem.”
Part of that “Citizenship thing” is recognizing that our actions and decisions affect others, and so we need to behave responsibly. Our shops use lean manufacturing processes to eliminate waste and so to not dissipate valuable resources that will be needed by others in the future. Our shops are good stewards of the resources we have. While the press paints businessmen as stingy and greedy, the fact is that our drive to eliminate waste is to be good stewards of what we have, not just to reduce costs. We have capital, employees, customers, and intellectual means of production that enable us, our families, our employees and their families, and our communities to thrive. Recognizing this interdependence helps us realize that all of us can lead efforts for stewardship for a better shop, home, community, state, province, country, and world.
We’ll reserve comment on this aspect regarding BP…
Diversity and Coexistence
My office is different than your office. Your house is different than mine. Your shop is different from hers. Her business model is different from his.
PMPA’s North American Trade Association model demonstrates how all of us, despite the fact that we compete, can also profit by sharing and approaching our markets and processes differently. By behaving as neighbors, professionals with a common mission, to make the parts that make today’s technologies serve all of us with improved safety, quality, convenience and quality of life.
Viva la difference! It is not enough for us to tolerate differences, We need to embrace them. It is the richness of approaches that assures that all opportunities for profit (and service!) out of a given market or resource are achieved. ‘One size fits all’ never fits anybody real well.
If you don’t like diversity, or differences, well, then have you considered opening a shop in say, North Korea?
When I was growing up, the word “Progress” was as widely used as the word “Green” is today. I like “Progress” better. Progress was generally used to mean growth. Improvement. Better. I am a big fan of continuous improvement. I have an internal principle that asks “is it better because of what I did?” I want my kids to do better than I did. I want this years’ business to be better than last years’.
But what we didn’t ask back in the day when “Progress” was as worshipfully served as “Green” seems to be today was, “What is the cost?And how do we measure progress?”
“Better for me,” at the cost of “worse for you” is no bargain. So I ask if the improvement is sustainable, a genuine improvement? Or is it not sustainable? You know, like a Bernie Madoff Investment Fund Business Model?
Sustainable improvement brings us back to Citizenship and Stewardship. Embracing Diversity- Coexistence helps us measure the impact of our improvements on all of us who might be impacted. Recognizing that we’re all impacted drives us to wanting to make improvements.
Independence? Yes, I value that as giving me the agency to make the right decisions.
Interdependence? Yes, for you and I, and approximately 6.7 billion other folks; 307 million of whom celebrate Independence Day, 33 million of whom celebrate Dominion Day Canada Day, we are also interdependent. That is why Citizenship/Stewardship (Quality, Professionalism, Fair Dealings, Service to others, and Mastery of our Craft) is so important.
Happy Independence Day. Happy Interdependence Day. May your dedication remain focused on Citizenship, Stewardship, Diversity and Coexistence, and Sustainable Improvement. No matter on which side of the border you live or make parts.
Ultimately, we’re all customers. I’ll do my best. How about you?