Manufacturing Excellence: On the Edge and Out of the Crisis
September 29, 2009
The manufacturing crisis began in the mid-80s with international competition in the automotive industry. Instead of being recognized as a technical supremacy, experts attributed the competition to cost. In reality, it was the competitor’s superior performance, rather than cost, that challenged the manufacturing capabilities of the 1950s and 1960s. It was the new generation beating the old generation.
Interestingly, the global competition is not affecting any one specific country. It is affecting many countries including the United States, Japan and Korea.
One thing is for sure-old corporations must change quickly and adapt to new practices. Sometimes killing the old system and redesigning is faster than continual improvement. Corporations must continually plan for obsolescence and innovation, rather than extending and continual improvement. Knowing when to kill a product is almost like knowing when to sell stocks. However, adding a step to the design process in regards to the product lifecycle would be helpful in keeping up with new generations.
Is it possible to create new manufacturing jobs in Detroit or any other city in America? Yes, absolutely-that is the good news. However, we cannot create new businesses without the involvement of people.
I propose we create a well-trained workforce of innovators and unleash them to create new businesses. For example, pick a county, train 5,000 people from different walks of life in innovation and then let them do the work of innovating. Old factories or buildings can be used to incubate these businesses. With 5,000 trained innovators, one can set a goal to create 500 new businesses. Similarly, if we start in a state such as Michigan, I recommend training one million people as innovators, unleash them and set out to create 50,000 new businesses. Instead of waiting for large corporations to create jobs, let’s have people create large corporations of the new generation.
The new generation of large corporations must understand the basics of excellence. We must now recognize true and false definitions of quality. The false definition of quality is being acceptable, and the true definition of quality is being on-target. Being wishy washy in decisionmaking, approximate in design, acceptable in manufacturing, and repairing and reworking, and responding to customer complaints does not represent quality product or service. Instead, clear vision, firm decision making, perfection in design, excellence in manufacturing, and customer care and loyalty represent quality of experience. Today, customers do not want quality product, instead they want enjoyable experiences that are hassle-free.
Everyone must recommit to produce his best intellectually and physically. We must first get back to the basics of work while we work, and play while we play. The poem, which I remember from my childhood, is a good one in modern times too:
“Work while you work, Play while you play;
One thing each time, That is the way.
All that you do, Do with your might;
Things done by halves, Are not done right.”
We recognize that some of us, our friends or family members are out of work. We must accept it as an opportunity to rise rather than suffer. We must bring out our best in our toughest times. If we cannot bring our best into every possible way now, then when will we? In financial crisis our intellectual output must be the best.
If one million innovators in Michigan or any similar state are activated, it would be an intellectual revolution that would create new corporations, new jobs and a new era that would need to be sustained in the information.
Life cycles are shrinking from products to that of revolutions too. We can count on such disruptions becoming faster and larger unless we remain ready intellectually and physically with all our might. We must remain on the edge and learn to enjoy the experience life offers.
We all know, “If we ain’t having fun, we ain’t doing it right.” If we are not doing it right we must not be having fun either. Let’s just plan to have fun even during our struggles. Having fun is a prerequisite for producing innovation and excellence and a new generation of large corporations.