Sunday, April 22, 2012

"[U.S.] Goes With What it Knows: Making Stuff"

In the New York Times article “G.E. Goes With What It Knows: Making Stuff,” Jeffrey Immelt, G.E.’s chief executive says, “technology-based manufacturing…has to be a central part of reinvigorating the economy.” It might be difficult to think about the strategy of the entire country, especially because there is such a multitude of different ideas. But a strategy helps define us in relation to other countries. What do we do best? What are we know for, and more important, what do we want to be known for? Collis and Rukstad (2008) describe strategy as the “competitive game plan” and ask what we “do differently from or better than others.”

As was mentioned in the G.E. article, Mr. Immelt served on the White House’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which called for a focus on America’s manufacturing strategy. Another New York Times article from February, describes the White House’s somewhat surprising strategy to focus efforts on manufacturing. While America hasn’t been know for “making stuff” in the past couple of decades, several factors, including a weak dollar, has made this a more viable option. The President has called for many policies to create manufacturing jobs. Last month, the President announced a new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. [1] The Administration will be launching a pilot institute for manufacturing innovation that will form a partnership between the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, and the National Science Foundation. While it could be argued that the analysis that led to the strategy was more political than robust, it seems the resident has communicated a strong message we want to go back to making stuff.

Hopefully we will do better than the couch manufacturing featured on this week’s episode of 30 Rock. Jack Donaghey (Alec Baldwin) tries to bring his G.E. strategy experience to his new employer CableTown. [Full disclosure: much of what I know about G.E. comes from 30 Rock.]

[1] Learn more at:

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