Updated: Mar 23, 2021
The past several years have witnessed a growing awareness among American managers of the central importance to competitive success of first-rate competence in the work of production. At the top of many corporate agendas now rests the determination to boost productivity, product quality, and new product innovation. This is all to the good. What managers still lack, however is a powerful descriptive framework for understanding how their manufacturing organizations are contributing overall strategic goals, as well as the other kinds of contribution those organizations could be asked to make.
As a company or business unit moves along the continuum, dealing with vendors or making facilities choices requires many changes: cost-minimization goals give way to a concern for enlisting vendors’ critical capabilities, and planning for general-purpose facilities gives way to an appreciation of focused factories. Said another way, managing these transitions requires a special kind of leadership because the task at hand is to change how people think, not merely how they can be instructed to act.