AM McEwan – Industrialization has started to incorporate diversity

Yes, there has been one best way. If you are building a ship, it’s a huge capital investment and it requires an ecosystem of supply, the engineering supplies of steel, and the engineers and the fitting and all the rest of it. You can’t go anywhere else. People have to come to the job, and not only do people come to the job, but they live in the same town. And I grew up in a town, where it was dying and it was dying because ships were being replaced by aircrafts. And the ships that were being built were being built by the Koreans.

So when people talk about, you know, economic decline, again, this is another reason why I think I am so awkward, is I think, right, don’t talk to me about economic decline. My whole life has been observing the fallouts from economic decline. And it’s not just about one industry; it’s in entire communities. So but, but… So industrialization has until quite recently, probably implied one way to do things.

But that’s not quite true because and again, say if you look at from the 80s onwards, there is a brilliant paper by a guy called Denison and if you are interested, he actually, he actually predates Alex Osterwalder who is talking about business model innovation. And in fact what Denison starts to trace out, is how values chains and value networks started to evolve. And that he said, if you looked at… this, I think this is relevant to what you are talking about, so bear with me if you don’t mind… And that the one best way, lean initially was about efficiency, it was about driving out waste. But it wasn’t about redesigning the value chain. It was about giving the customer, what you’ve always given the customer, but more efficiently, more cost effectively.

Then came mass customization and mass customization suddenly was the difference, because mass customization was now by choice, consumer choice within constraints. You know, you want a car with alloy wheels with different trims. So, in other words, what you then do is you have all these components in a just-in-time way. So, work in progress is going, but the whole point is, now you are beginning to get consumer choice and choice. So industrialization has started to change, it had started to incorporate diversity. It wasn’t just the one best way. And now I think what we have got to coming along here, is total diversity in the sense of 3-D printing.

Not to say this threw the whole thing up in the air, but there is a transition here. So getting back, to diversity or homogeneity, we had already started to move away from homogeneity about 30 years ago. And we had – we had, and again this is another reason why I wrote the book. Because I was sick and fed up of people not understanding or choosing not to see, or license that had actually happened in that first phase of moving away from rigid industrialization.

Industrialization had started to become something else. It started to become more distributed, more diverse and more choice. So that’s a long way around of saying diversity, diversity always, and the question then becomes: “how does industrialization?” and in fact industrialization had started to do this. It had started to adapt to growing diversity and increasing customer choice.

And so therefore, mass customization was a step along the way, and for mass customization to work, you have to have, you know you then have to have the buy-in of people and the agility to make these things work. So there’s a paradox here because for that, for that diversity to be delivered, you have to have a certain amount of compliance with, you know, with process. But it’s willing compliance.

People understood the agility, agility in customer service and customer focus, with why people were collaborating, and collaborating very closely. So let me stop here, because what I am trying to work out in my own head, is homogeneity, no, diversity, yes. But then I think that the interesting question is, how do we then organize, how do we then organize for this diversity, and what does that all mean. So, I think, diversity, yes.

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