AGILE manufacturing LO12020

John Zavacki (
Fri, 17 Jan 1997 05:35:36 -0500

Replying to LO11991 --


First -- Great story, reminds me of Senge quoting Deming (paraphrase coming,
the note are four years old an in a box somewhere):
Q: How long do we have to improve our business?
Deming: As long as you're alive, no longer.

snipped Ray's story.

> I have four questions:
> 1. Agile outline you so generously provided seems the same as the outline
> for a movie (virtual communication) company. Basically a free-lance
> situation with core personnel? Is it?

It is, in cases where it's needed. In these cases the term is "Virtual
An example was IBM's AMBRA division-six or eight people taking orders and
placing them with suppliers with the end result of inexpensive PCs being
shipped VERY quickly. AMBRA had not hard capacity. Everything was

Elsewhere, it's creative response (moving machines and people, adding
capacity by renting the competition.....)

> 2. Where is the money saved?

The goal is to satisfy customers. Time is essential. Rapid response to
rapidly changing requirements. Money is not always saved. Agile, unlike
lean, has raw material, people, and equipment buffers available to be able
to get things done quickly.

In other cases, the infrastructure may well be lean and well learned.

> 3. AGILE seems to resemble (in the idea of customization) the concept of
> craft Guilds that were destroyed by the first wave of industrialization.
> Is this a return to the concept of the individual expert craftsman as
> opposed to the "worker" who can be placed anywhere to do simple effort
> tasks. i.e. work as skill as opposed to work as effort.

It's a return to personal mastery with an emphasis on high performance
teams-people with wheels on them. They don't work in departments as much
as they work in scenarios.

> 4. Is the Agile structure a short term or long term LO?
> i.e. Can a community be built around an AGILE manufacturing firm?

An Agile enterprise can be both permanent and virtual. In the Web
concept, 20 companies (all permanent communities) have contracted to pool
resources as required by customers. What you get is the individual
companies acting like the small companies that they are for most of the
time, then switching into the Web model when their capabilities fit the
needs of a Web contract.

John Zavacki
The Wolff Group

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