We have enjoyed poking fun at business schools in the past, particularly their penchant for gurus and ability to tailor their programs to shrinking attention spans. But every now and then they get it right, and our hope is that it portends a trend. First there was Wharton actually making sense with an analysis on the problems in Detroit.
Now we have Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management actually discussing the benefits of "onshoring"… competitive advantage via domestic manufacturing. On May 12th they will host a Manufacturing Business Conference at their Evanston, IL campus. The event is sponsored by several companies, including ITW, Emerson, Eaton, Booz Allen Hamilton, John Deere, and that great lean company Danaher, which we blogged about just last month. One of the panel discussions is titled Onshoring: Domestic Manufacturing as a Competitive Advantage.
Of course one of the reasons I’m excited about this conference is that yours truly has been asked to moderate that particular panel discussion, and this blog was used as a source of who to invite to be on the panel. So far there will be an executive from Harley-Davidson as well as the CEO of Sherrill Manufacturing and we’re waiting on responses from a couple others.
These are companies that really get it. They understand that a reduction in internal waste can trump the myth of competitiveness burdens any day. They understand what short supply chains, rapid cycle times, and long-term employee knowledge can create in terms of customer value.
If we do it right, that panel discussion should provide an interesting background to the discussion that follows: Challenges of Outsourcing Manufacturing to China. Challenges indeed… and most companies don’t have any idea what they really are, let alone the opportunities of not doing it in the first place.