Keywords: continuous improvement, manufacturing, strategy, technological capabilities, technological innovation
Developing technological capability through manufacturing strategy
Technological innovation represents an important mechanism whereby firms can respond to the challenges of the late 1990s environment. Without a coherent strategic framework within which to make technological choices, however, there is a risk that even heavy investments will fail to enhance organisational performance. This paper reviews the concept of manufacturing strategy as a mechanism for guiding the development of process capability and presents a four-phase model for its development, based on research and literary review. This model involves a systematic planning process and a participative approach to implementation, but it also argues the need to consider the prevailing mind set of strategic decision-makers. It is suggested that even well-crafted plans may fail because they address the wrong problems or deploy too limited a set of solutions. Generating momentum to ensure strategic plans are realised is not an automatic process, but involves motivation through leadership, customer focus, crisis or other drives. The paper concludes with some examples that illustrate this model in practice.