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The View from the Engine Room

S+B: How do you find the right approach, the right methodology, to reach excellence in your plants?
Over the past decades, I have seen methodologies come and go: total quality management, quality circles, outsource everything, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, and so on. You need to find the methodology that suits your company, its culture, and its level of evolution. It has to be adaptive. Having said that, the foundations of an adaptive culture are a strong vision and, even more important, strong values. There needs to be both trust and transparency among the various actors in the operations. The rest you can then tailor and fix. To me, there is nothing worse in improvement programs than following a mechanistic, Cartesian, one-size-fits-all model.

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  1. Kaj Grichnik, Conrad Winkler, and Peter von Hochberg, “Manufacturing Myopia,” s+b, Spring 2006: Argues that the root cause of industrial decline is not cheap overseas labor or technological change, but the piecemeal implementation of manufacturing strategy. Click here.
  2. Peter von Hochberg, Marcello Rodrigues, and Georgina Grenon, “Who Manages Manufacturing?” s+b, Autumn 2006: A portrait of the chief manufacturing officer and an analysis of how his role can affect the company’s strategic direction, based on a Booz Allen Hamilton survey. Click here.
  3. Jim Miller, “Good Times and Expanding Horizons in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing,” Pharmaceutical Technology, August 1, 2005: Analysis of growth and spending in pharmaceutical outsourcing. Click here.
  4. Jeffrey Rothfeder and Georgina Grenon, editors, Manufacturing Realities: Breaking the Boundaries of Conventional Practice (strategy+business Books, 2006): How to build supply chain competence and confidence, from the top down and the inside out. Click here.
  5. UCB Group Web site: Overview of the company. Click here.
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