In 1974, W. Skinner published an article about the Focused Factory in the Harvard Business Review. The article appeared in the pessimistic context of a waning American market in the 70s, with the following symptoms:
- wage costs were the highest in the world
- productivity was growing less rapidly than in neighbouring countriesindustry was finding it increasingly difficult to compete against low-wage countries.
It is now 42 years later, and this subject is more topical than ever. And the symptoms seem to describe the situation of Belgian industry in the year 2016.
Fortunately, Skinner gives a more positive picture of production companies in his "Focused Factory". What changes are needed in our thinking process? (i) The question is not to increase productivity, but to be competitive. (ii) The intention is not to look at production costs only, but to consider the total financial picture. (iii) A company must focus on only a few, well-considered products, processes and markets, and (iv) it is better to focus on one explicit production task than on multiple (and often conflicting) tasks.
That is the success story of a focused factory.
Through simplicity, repetition, experience and a single underlying objective on which the business strategy is based, knowledge and competence are created, which in turn stimulate competitiveness. And that is also why a “Factory of the Future” is indeed a “Focused Factory”.
Read more about our partnership with a real Factory of the Future!