this entire process, we should build a better understanding of and
appreciation for the principles of Integrated Resource Management.
and Total Quality Management philosophies, concepts and techniques
can and should be applied to developing an organization which will
evolve toward continuous improvement of the whole organization.
While change may be painful for those who cling to the past (old
paradigms) progress comes from challenging the status quo and
development progression for manufacturing is presented by
Wheelwright and Hayes  that shows the importance of the "4
I's." Stage 4, the most advanced stage, depicts a manufacturing
company that, first, anticipates the potential of new
manufacturing practices and technologies, acquire expertise long
before their implications are fully apparent [innovates]; second,
encourages the development of all business functions so that they interact
effectively; third, strongly supports systems and approaches
that integrate all its functions into an effective whole; and
fourth, places great emphasis on improvement processes for
and Fox  note that, although one key to success with an ongoing improvement
process is getting individuals to take ownership of the
process, the unified efforts of an organized group are required to
make the process truly effective. This requires the group to reach
consensus on the subject, so that they are really integrated in
their effort. To reach consensus you must have good interaction within
the group: good, open communication, mutual sharing and
Numerous factory floor
examples referenced by Kiyoshi Suzaki  verify that people do make
things happen that seemed impossible before getting the employees
truly involved. It is almost futile to pursue excellence if people
involvement is not given a high priority in the improvement process.
Any revolutionary change requires great amounts of energy and
commitment from the people.
that neglect formal strategic planning frequently find themselves
in turmoil in making basic business decisions according to
Gregoire and Delaney . Individual managers push in different
directions unless integrated with the business function and the
overall strategy of the business. A vision statement, a strategic
plan, integrated tactical plans, a profit plan, a realistic growth
plan, a technology plan, and a good performance monitoring process
are all required, and must be integrated through functional
tactical plans if the company is to be viable and successful.
and Greenwood  are convinced that a company's survival hinges on
embracing continuous product innovation and quality improvement.
This requires new ways to train and motivate employees and
adoption of enlightened policies governing relationships with
employees and also with suppliers and customers. A company's
cultural legacy can be a real impediment to this process.
the major responsibilities of management is a strong commitment to
continuous improvement in manufacturing and office processes.
Constant betterment of processes depends on employee attitudes.
Their level of contribution depends on how well they are managed (i.e.,
good management earns good employee involvement, which yields
continuous improvement). The overall quality of any process
depends on the effectiveness of the interactions between the
different individuals and functions involved.
Ross  states that the business functions in a manufacturing
company traditionally possessed their own cultures, structures and
information flows, with little continuity or connectivity between
their needs and resources were in misalignment or even opposition.
To survive today, companies must embrace a culture promoting
excellence; must provide for well-defined, closely integrated
information flows that support continuous improvement in planning
and decision-making; must be able to face the challenge of
significant changes technology brings so rapidly; and they must be
committed to training, educating and motivating people so that they
will interact cooperatively and effectively.
need to integrate our suppliers into our m anufacturing system and
eliminate the wastes that typically accumulate between company
boundaries is emphasized by Suzaki 
improvement activities should take place through good interaction—communication,
cooperation and sharing of ideas between the two trading partners.
The same kind of advantages can be obtained with our customers. We
need to see the broader picture of the value-added chain, from raw
materials to use by the ultimate consumer, so that we can eliminate
waste throughout the chain.
design [innovation] is a strategic activity according to
William Wassweiler . It influences sales strategies, quality,
manufacturing efficiencies, and product cost. He further says that
multi-functional "concurrent engi-
teams [interaction] are the most effective way to cut through
parochial barriers to good design. Cross-training of the team
provides the opportunity to learn all or most of the tasks required,
and leads to output and quality improvement. A final note is
that integration of vendors into the design team leads to
valuable improvements in product quality and cost. It is a
natural progression then to JIT, since JIT principles entail the
integration and interaction of people, technology, product
innovation, process, suppliers, and total quality improvements.
quest for Excellence, built upon a process of continuous
improvement, is a never-ending journey. We can always be better than
we are, can and should always work to find and take another step
toward perfection—never reaching it but always striving to do so.
Improvements are like inventions, requiring creative innovation and
involving visionary and intuitive thinking in addition to the
order to put our innovative improvements into full effect, we must
be able to interact effectively with many others in different
departments of our own company as well as our customers and our
suppliers. This level of communication and cooperation is built on
mutual understanding, listening, and mutual respect.
provide the right framework for our improvement process, we must
integrate the many diverse elements of our organization, using
information systems, education, enlightened leadership and
management, and the employee involvement principles. We should
also strive to integrate our systems and processes with our
suppliers and customers for greater overall synergy.
Put it all together,
and the "Four I s" breed Excellence*.