31 December 2008

World Class Manufacturing -- Really?

I found this quote on a Web site which will remain unidentified in this article:

World Class Manufacturing - A definition
World Class Manufacturers are those that demonstrate industry best practice. To achieve this companies should attempt to be best in the field at each of the competitive priorities (quality, price, delivery speed, delivery reliability, flexibility and innovation). Organisations should therefore aim to maximise performance in these areas in order to maximise competitiveness. However, as resources are unlikely to allow improvement in all areas, organisations should concentrate on maintaining performance in 'qualifying' factors and improving 'competitive edge' factors.... The priorities will change over time and must therefore be reviewed.
The author here identifies six "priorities":
  1. Quality
  2. Price
  3. Delivery speed
  4. Delivery reliability
  5. Flexibility
  6. Innovation
I would contend, however, that none of these 6 priorities may be achieved without setting the organization's primary focus on making money -- making money both today and in the future. Without making profit the first priority, there is no money to spend on improving quality; there is no money to spend on improving the speed or reliability of delivery; and there is no money to spend on improving flexibility or innovation.

One might say, "Well, if we improve quality, we will make more money." But unless the framework for the planning and focus of the organization has demonstrated by a rational method that improving quality will lead to improved profits, then that statement remains only a "hope" and not a plan or a true "goal." The same may be said for the other five "focus" points in the article.

If the manufacturer has no sound framework by which to determine precisely what steps it must take beginning today to increase its profitability -- to make it more effective at making money -- there is a chance it may not survive long enough to work on any of the six "priorities" listed above.

"Without theory there is no knowing." -- W. Edwards Deming

Having a valid theory -- a consistent "framework" -- by which to evaluate all that transpires within your business is critical to constancy of purpose and effective leadership by management.

Contact me!

(c)2008 Richard D. Cushing

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