VAN WASSENHOVE Luk
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Production and Operations Management (forthcoming)
Few unfocused factories outperform competitors, but focus is elusive because the environment is constantly evolving and this requires changes to a factory's key tasks. So how can focus be achieved and sustained? We present insights derived from an historical analysis of the German Hewlett-Packard server plant which went through a series of focus changes over the years. Using this example, we provide clues for the right timing of focus changes and discuss critical structural and infrastructural changes required during the focus transitions, as well as cross-functional coordination and leadership challenges. Our assertion is that production operations constitute a system that can adapt to disruptive change by using the levers of manufacturing policies to stay focused on a limited but absolutely essential task which creates strategic advantage.