Book Review- Make or Break: How Manufacturing Can Leap from Decline to Revitalization

Make or Break: How Manufacturing Can Leap from Decline to Revitalization
by Kaj Grichnik and Conrad Winkler, with Jeffrey Rotheeder, 2008

make or break

I’m teaching “Introduction to Operations Management” this semester, and this book is a great compliment to that course. It discusses the state of manufacturing in the US (circa 2008) and the challenges facing the manufacturing sector of the economy in the near future. In the US and elsewhere, manufacturing jobs are not seen as ideal destinations for many workers anymore, making it difficult to secure skilled workers. Even in corporate hierarchies, the manufacturing head is often looked to only for cost-cutting improvements, not true innovation or competitive advantage. Very few organizations, including Proctor & Gamble and Toyota, know how to appropriately treat their manufacturing functions to cultivate them into strengths. The term “make or break” in the title refers to the fact that, for goods producers, the manufacturing function can make or break the business’s success. The book’s discussions of corporate strategy, lean manufacturing, and innovation all mesh nicely with my Intro OM lectures.

I got a lot of nifty vignettes and examples for my class from this book, and it is a short, easy read. Booz Allen Hamilton produced the book. I was a consultant at BAH from 2011-2013, though I did not interact with any workers involved in manufacturing efforts.

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