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Richard Schonberger, in his fourth and most important book yet, introduces a powerful new concept: that the many links between and within the four main business functions -- design, operations, accounting, and marketing -- form a continuous "chain of customers" that extends to those who buy the product or service. Everyone has a customer -- the next department, office, shop, or person -- at the hundreds of pioneering companies Schonberger has studied throughout the world. Schonberger demonstrates the universality of customer wants: Both the next and final customers want ever better quality, quicker response, greater flexibility, and lower cost. This condition provides a common strategy and calls for common methods to be used across the organization. Every employee is a data gatherer and analyst, unearthing more and better ways to provide for these customers' wants -- before the competition does so. As the new thinking and methods permeate every comer of the firm, they topple departmental walls and adjust gang-like mind-sets and "them-versus-us" attitudes. Performance is no longer measured by internal costs but by improvement as seen by the next customer; direct control of causes generally replaces after-the-fact control of costs. Design is brought out of isolation. Finally, with the rest of the firm reoriented toward customer service, marketing escapes from a "negative" mode -- covering up for failures -- to a positive one -- crowing about the firm's competence and ability to improve. With the close attention to detail for which he has become famous, Schonberger constructs a blueprint for unifying corporate functions, brilliantly describing the new microcosms that will make up the company of the 1990s -- focused teams of multi-skilled, involved employees arranged according to the way the work flows or the service is provided -- that compose the chain of customers. Aetna, for example, is organizing customer-focused teams that cut across underwriting and the administrative functions. At Hewlett-Packard, teams of marketing, manufacturing, and R&D people have already gone through several iterations of "activity-based costing", which provides product designers with previously unavailable data for shaving costs throughout product life cycles. And at Du Pont, even production people on the factory floor are involved in assessing competitors' product quality and probable costs and methods. Through these and hundreds of other real company examples, Schonberger shows how the customer-driven chain of action leads directly to the kinds of bottom-line performance that have been so elusive to executives who manage at a distance "by the numbers" -- namely, higher profits, greater security, and gains in market share at the expense of the laggard competion.
No company is built to last, argues world-renowned manufacturing guru Richard J. Schonberger. After sixteen years of prosperity, he shows, nearly 75 percent of the world's most admired manufacturing companies have slipped badly from their peaks in 1995. In this devastating indictment of current manufacturing practices, Schonberger submits a four-part revolutionary plan to solve the manufacturing crisis for good. From his statistically reliable database of 500 top global manufacturers, Schonberger finds that by the critical worldwide standard of lean production -- shedding inventories -- General Motors, General Electric, Toyota, and other world leaders have stopped improving. He presents powerful evidence that in recent years record profits have covered up waste and weakness. Clearly a lack of will to renew and recover from the natural tendency toward regression and erosion, it is more than a matter of garden-variety complacency -- devastating as that is in this new era of global hypercompetition. Schonberger asserts that the inclination of industry leaders to engage in stock hyping to gain a quick fix from the dot-com explosion has distracted attention from "the basics" of world-class excellence. Among other villains contributing to the crisis, Schonberger contends, are newly hired managers with no trial-by-fire experience; bad equipment, systems, and job design; and retention of unprofitable customers and anachronistic command-and-control managerial hierarchies. What to do? Just as he introduced the legendary "just-in-time" framework to the West in the 1980s, Schonberger prescribes strong medicine to cure our current malaise. Find your blind spots, he says. Roll confusing, time-sapping initiatives into a master program that is immune from "the flavor of the month." Put lean into heavy-handed control systems. Develop products and standardize processes at "home base" for ease of migrating volume production anywhere in the world. Timely and essential, Let's Fix It! will be warmly welcomed by the legions of Schonberger readers and every manufacturing manager who believes passionately in continuous improvement.
In his best-selling book Japanese Manufacturing Techniques, Richard J. Schonberger revolutionized American manufacturing theory and, more important, practice. In that breakthrough book, he revealed that Japanese manufacturing excellence was not culturally bound. Offering the first demystified explanation of the simple techniques that fueled Japan's industrial success, he demonstrated how the same methods could be put to work as effectively in U.S. plants. Now, in World Class Manufacturing, Schonberger returns to tell the success stories of nearly 100 American corporations -- including Hewlett-Packard, Harley-Davidson, General Motors, Honeywell, and Uniroyal -- that have adopted the famed just-in-time production and "total quality control" strategies. Based on his firsthand experience as a major consultant to American industry, he examines how they did it -- and illustrates how the same concrete, specific steps used by these top companies can be implemented in any factory today. What's more, Schonberger shows that his bold concepts and reforms apply equally to all industries, whether the product is computers, pasta, or trucks, and to all divisions -- from manufacturing and engineering to accounting and marketing. According to Schonberger, world-class manufacturing depends on blended management -- rather than domination by a separate group of managers -- which marshalls resources for continual rapid improvement. To achieve world-class status, companies must change procedures and concepts, which in turn leads to recasting relations among suppliers, purchasers, producers, and customers. Acknowledging the difficulty inherent in such changes, Schonberger stresses that employee involvement and interaction, both on the shop floor and in the decision-making/problem-solving process, is key. Wary of those who view improvement in terms of modernizing equipment, he points out that making maximum use of people and current machinery is a company's first priority; automation, if necessary, should come much later. World Class Manufacturing also includes Schonberger's 17-point action agenda to guide innovators toward manufacturing excellence, from getting to know the customer to cutting the number of suppliers, reducing error in production, and deciding when and how to automate. Indispensable for all manufacturing innovators who aim to keep ahead of the competition, this inspiring, groundbreaking volume does much more than just recommend or theorize about the new manufacturing approach. Plainly, realistically, and logically, it explains how it's done.
Offers a demystified explanation of the simple techniques that have fueled Japan's industrial success
Since the invention of double-entry bookkeeping, managers have judged a company's worth by sales and profits. Now, Richard J. Schonberger, the architect of the worldwide Just-In-Time revolution, reaches beyond "financials" to redefine excellence -- and reveals, with new benchmark data, how pioneers become dynasties. Schonberger's pathbreaking new research reveals that, from 1950 to 1995, while "financials" dipped and soared repeatedly, industrial decline and ascendancy correlated perfectly with inventory turnover -- one of two key nonfinancial indicators and a bedrock measure, along with customer satisfaction, of a company's power, strength, and value. In this immensely readable book, he captures these new metrics -- the true predictions of future success -- in 16 customer-focused principles created from self-scored reports supplied by over 100 pioneering manufacturers in nine countries. Armed with new world-class benchmark data, Schonberger redefines excellence in terms of competence, capability, and customer-focused, employee-driven, data-based performance. For front-tine associates to senior executives, Schonberger has written manufacturing's action agenda for the next decade. This book will be indispensable reading for manufacturing and general managers in all industries, as well as for pension fund managers, institutional investors, stock analysts, and stockbrokers.
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