Manufacturing Today: Innovate or be Commoditized

Today I read an interesting article in Chief Executive magazine by J. P. Donlon about Dow Chemical’s CEO Andrew Liveris’ winning formula for driving manufacturing at Dow Chemical. Mr. Liveris’ message for fellow US manufacturers:” rethink your role in the evolving global supply chains and partner with others in training and developing the workforce you will need for the future.”

As I work with clients in the US, it is interesting that, for many in procurement and some areas of manufacturing, there are no strategic plans that exist beyond the next quarter. The focus seems to be in the near term and immediate. I dedicated myself in my new business to build strong category strategies linked to a strong strategic planning process. Some of the key priorities lacking in many manufacturing companies are acquisition of talent, developing the workforce to meet future strategic needs and the understanding of management of the supply chain and value chain. The other key message that I got from reading the Chief Executive article is that Mr. Liveris believes “manufacturing today means you’ve got to innovate faster than they commoditize you.”

After looking at many business strategies, supply chain strategies, and category strategies, I can say that there is no strategy if it doesn’t lead to topline growth, innovative new products, innovative processes and continuous development of  purchasing and supply chain business teams.

Looking at Dow’s success as a growing $57 billion company with 201 sites in 36 countries, a lot can be learned by their strategy of continuous reinvention of manufacturing to meet the needs of end customers.

Are you focused on innovation or will you be commoditized?

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