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July 13, 2003             

The Key Manufacturing Task

Our previous discussions of Focused Factories led to the "Key Manufacturing Task." This is the one task (or perhaps two) that manufacturing must do exceptionally well. But, how do we identify this Key Manufacturing Task?

Professor Terry Hill of Oxford University gives us the concept of "Market Criteria" or "Order-winning Criteria." These criteria flow from customer needs and lead to effective strategy and focus.

The implications go far beyond Focused Factories. The Key Manufacturing Task links Marketing and Manufacturing. It lies at the murky confluence of Manufacturing, Marketing and Corporate strategies.

Our web page, The Key Manufacturing Task, summarizes the issues and guides their resolution. A Case Study is a real-life, practical illustration. It is important, for example, to:

  • Identify market segments and understand the buying behavior for each segment.

  • Identify non-manufacturing market criteria where manufacturing's performance has little impact.

  • Distinguish between "Qualifiers" that allow entry into a market and "Deciders" that determine the buying decision.

Our recent discussions of strategic issues may seem irrelevant for some of you in middle management. You are judged on how particular quality problems get solved and other more immediate matters.

I suggest, however, that you put this knowledge in your mental filing cabinet. As your career progresses, these strategic questions will become increasingly important.

In our next issue of Lean Briefing, Norman Bodek returns with his unique insights on Mistakes.

See you then.

Quarterman Lee

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