In his New York Times column, Paul Krugman, spoke of a hint of the return of American manufacturing. In this column Mr. Krugman mentioned that Michigan which had an unemployment rate of 14.1% in August 2009 is now experiencing the improved rate of 10.3%, and as Krugman noted “still above the national average, but nonetheless a huge improvement.”
Krugman continues, “I don’t want to suggest that everything is wonderful about U.S. manufacturing. So far, the job gains are modest, and many new manufacturing jobs don’t offer good pay or benefits.”
It is one thing to make things, again. It is entirely another thing to produce quality!
If American manufacturing (and its’ management) is to become anything it must become synonymous with quality; that is, if the U.S. is to recapture its’ economic leadership and the middle class its’ viability. Neither of these will happen if U.S. corporations forsakes quality while holding the assumption that lower wages leads to profitability, job creation and a sustainable economy.
American manufacturing has been on the decline long before the 2008 financial crisis, which just kicked further down the road. So getting back to managing as we’ve always been managing won’t cut it! If American management continues its’ pursuit of profit at all costs, then the hint that American manufacturing is making a return will remain an illusion.
Today many corporations are playing with the concept of lean as a means to increase profit through the elimination of waste. After all who doesn’t want to be the low cost producer! Unfortunately, what is not understood is that the only way to enhance the viability of a business enterprise (yes a sustainable competitive advantage) is through a commitment to quality.