Manufacturing... It's Not Just About Production Anymore

Frederick Parker published a book titled Strategy + Teamwork = Great Products: Management Techniques for Manufacturing Companies, and it's quite different from most books on manufacturing in that its primary focus is not production -- Parker emphasizes techniques for excelling in engineering design, marketing strategies, and customer service inside a manufacturing company. He posits that managing a successful manufacturing company in the current competitive global economy requires teamwork between the those disciplines -- It is no longer enough just to be efficient on the production floor. 

Recently, I spent a few minutes speaking with Frederick and asked him why he took this approach when writing this book. Here is his complete answer:

I always viewed management as an art form and tried to perfect it. During my 40 years in leadership roles, I saw many dramatic changes in manufacturing and realized that the old techniques do not work anymore. We need new thinking and new approaches to manufacturing management in the 21st century. There are several reasons for requiring that: the rapid changes in technology, outsourcing of nonessential processes or components, automation, Lean manufacturing, and supply chain management. There are books written about all of these new trends, but my book is unique because it combines all of them into an overall strategy and concludes with this thought: 

Historically the most important task of manufacturing executives was to make the production floor efficient. In a modern manufacturing company, the emphasis must be changed into fostering teamwork among manufacturing, engineering, and marketing because these areas are now the center of profit. The importance of manual labor in the cost of the product is diminished. The cost and quality is determined by the design for manufacturability and the cooperation and teamwork between the manufacturing staff functions.

When I became CEO, I quickly realized what a difference leadership makes in the success or failure of a company. Leadership has changed in the 21st century. The old autocratic ways of management are dead. The management staff has to work as a team and CEOs must listen to them when they set goals. Current executives are much more highly educated and most are specialists in their field.  If you set goals for them that are too high they will not even try to achieve them. Attainable goals is one of the principles in my book. 

Manufacturing strategies in the book include outsourcing, investment in automation, continuous improvement, training and team building. These are the modern tools of manufacturing executives. 

You cannot expect to hire people from different backgrounds and different company cultures to work together as a team without guidance. My book describes various techniques for building your own company culture and fostering teamwork. I hope that documenting my experiences and the techniques that I developed and successfully implemented will help manufacturing executives to be more effective in their jobs.