Strategos Lean Briefing

The Newsletter of Lean Manufacturing Strategy
Drop Down Menu

1 March 2006             

What Is Manufacturing Strategy?

The Great Nuclear Fizzle At Babcock & Wilcox

This classic case study from Wickham Skinner describes the sea of troubles surrounding Babcock & Wilcox in the 1960's. These included high costs, delivery failures, technology problems, quality issues, labor troubles, lawsuits, personality conflicts and the suicide of a key manager. Skinner traces all of this to a single issue: B&W's failure to identify their "Key Manufacturing Task."

Manufacturing Strategy derives from the Greek word Strategos that translates as "the General's art". The word retains much of its original meaning: 

  • Decisions and actions with long-term and wide-ranging consequences.

  • Pinpointing vulnerabilities in the opponent's position.

  • Exploiting resources and deployment relative to opponents.

  • Using topography, and technology for advantage.

Manufacturing Strategy ensures a match, or congruence, between the company's markets and the capabilities of production. It addresses issues that include:

  • Capacity

  • Facilities

  • Technology

  • Suppliers

  • Quality

  • Scheduling

  • Materials

  • Organization

  • Personnel 

The Great Nuclear Fizzle also demonstrates why Lean Manufacturing should be tailored for each individual firm. An unthinking use of another company's (or even division's) Manufacturing Strategy is often dangerous. 

A version of this case study is available for free download on our website. It comes with new and expanded teaching notes. I hope you find The Great Nuclear Fizzle interesting and useful.

All the best from the Strategos team.

Quarterman Lee

"Life In A Workcell" Video

The Human Side of Lean Manufacturing

Workers design and build their own workcell. It shows how the human and technical elements of Lean Manufacturing interact.  An ideal introduction for the shop floor. More Info>>

Lean Briefing Archive Issues

Drop Down Menu

Strategos, Inc.

 3916 Wyandotte - Kansas City MO 64111

 816-931-1414 -

The Strategos Guide To Value Stream and Process Mapping goes  beyond symbols and arrows. In over 163 pages it tells the reader not only how to do it but what to do with it.


Lean Briefing is only sent to those who subscribe or those who download from the Strategos website.

Books & Videos

Guide to Cycle Counting

Warehouse Planning Guide

Human Side of Lean Video