A resurgence of manufacturing in America is being written about and discussed with excitement, and I am among those who are hopeful about this happening. I am convinced that manufacturing is of critical importance for the United States in restoring the economy and jobs. People are not all suited for services/knowledge roles, in yesterday’s world or today’s world or tomorrow’s world. Many of us are naturals at making stuff, working with our hands and our minds to build things. To make products that add value for people. To enable our country’s participation in world trade. Haven’t we all known people who started to take things apart and put them back together as children? This is only one example of how natural talent is visible in people who love and are good at making things. Assumptions that the move of manufacturing out of America is inevitable as part of our evolution cannot be correct, because it doesn’t make sense for people, the economy, or business.
And, while the cost of operating in the USA may have been a leading factor in its off-shoring, I am convinced that cost, by itself, cannot be a successful strategy for its re-shoring. We have all learned from experience, from industry experts as well as leading authors that competing based on price is only a strategy for businesses who haven’t determined how they can differentiate themselves with a competitive advantage. Widely-read writers have identified other ways that a business can differentiate itself from the competition, including 1) leading edge solutions i.e. innovation and 2) customer intimacy including customization and creating exceptional customer experiences.
Cost is a factor, but by itself, competing on cost cannot sustain a business over time. I am not an expert in business strategy development (my expertise and focus is on improving execution or performance), so I am not espousing my views as “the answer” — rather, my hope is to start a discussion among stakeholders and experts that will help us to enable and support building momentum for manufacturing’s resurgence in America. I suggest that a manufacturing company needs a competitive advantage that is primarily based on an effective differentiation using technology or customer centricity as a core strategy along with doing a good job with cost performance, in order for the USA to win our place as a world leader in global Manufacturing.
Experts, Stakeholders: Please share your thoughts and opinions. Together we can figure this out and help make it happen!
p.s 2 especially good reads I’ve found on this subject are: