When Organizations Are Too Stressed—The Paralysis of Fear

George Beeler knows about fear. A skilled tool and die maker who has worked in the automobile industry for thirty years, he remembers “when Detroit defined the physical laws of the auto universe.” Today, however, the competitive pressure is so bad that “no union could help him now.”*

George works for a supplier to Ford. Ford is currently trying to develop more Japanese-style supplier relationships: long-term partnerships with fewer suppliers. In endless dread, Beeler constantly rehearses the scene when an irritatingly young inspector from Ford is going to stand in the middle of the shop floor and announce that since his company failed Ford’s quality test, it is being dropped. If Ford ...

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