Strategos Lean Briefing

The Newsletter of Lean Manufacturing Strategy
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June 3, 2003             

The Focused Factory

In May, 1974, Wickham Skinner published a classic article in the Harvard Business Review called "The Focused Factory." In this seminal work, Skinner contends that most factories are too large and diverse for effective performance.

Professor Skinner summarizes it best:

"A factory that focuses on a narrow product mix for a particular market niche will outperform the conventional plant, which attempts a broader mission. Because its equipment, supporting systems and procedures can concentrate on a limited task for one set of customers, its costs and especially its overhead are likely to be lower than those of the conventional plant. But, more important, such a plant can become a competitive weapon because its entire apparatus is focused to accomplish the particular manufacturing task demanded by the company's overall strategy and marketing objective."

Our new web page The Focused Factory summarizes Professor Skinner's thoughts on focused factories. It also links to the original paper.  (still available from after 29 years)

Our next several issues will expand the theme of Manufacturing Focus with quantitative studies, broader views and how to identify the Key Manufacturing Task. See you then.

Quarterman Lee

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