We believe manufacturing will remain an important sector in the economy, even though employment in the manufacturing sector will continue to shrink because of ongoing productivity improvements. We consider manufacturing to be an important pillar within a healthy society for two main reasons: first, many services are directly linked to manufactured products (e.g. sales, customisation, logistics, maintenance contractors and field services) and, second, manufactured goods can be traded internationally much more easily than most service products.

International competition is fierce, and it is tough to survive as a manufacturer particularly in high-wage countries with rapidly increasing ESG (Environment, Social and Government) expectations and legislation. Manufacturers must move faster, but many of them are still implementing methodologies from the first half of the last century such as Lean (1940s) and Six Sigma (1950s) – now combined into Lean Six Sigma (LSS).

LSS is important, but it is only one part of the equation – quality of management is the other part and the key. Manufacturing excellence requires process excellence, which requires managerial excellence, and the two management levels that matter most are the leaders at the top and the first-line supervisors.

    Developing managerial excellence requires:

  • organisational alignment
  • getting the manufacturing strategy aligned with the business strategy
  • getting the structure of the basic business processes right
  • cascading the strategy down to the shop floor
  • installing a powerful performance management system for understanding and acting on quality and productivity drivers
  • a compelling vision on how the plant should look and run – a vision that is co-owned by all
  • quick wins to establish momentum