Link Manufacturing Process and Product Life Cycles
Link manufacturing process and product life cycles
Focusing on the process gives a new dimension to strategy
Robert H. Hayes and Steven C. Wheelwright
Although the product life cycle concept may have value for managers, its emphasis on marketing can make it inadequate for strategic planners. These authors point out that using a process life cycle can help a company choose among its various manufacturing and marketing options. Using the concept of a "product-process matrix," they show how a company's position reflects its weaknesses and strengths, and they discuss the implications for corporate strategy. Mr. Hayes is professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. He is currently serving as faculty chairman of and teaching at Harvard's Senior Managers Program in Vevcy, Switzerland. One of his previous articles in HBR is "How Should You Organize Manufacturing?" (coauthor, Roger W. Schmenner, JanuaryFchruary 1978). Mr. Wheelwright is associate professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. He is currently teaching in the MBA program and is faculty chairman of Harvard's executive program on Manufacturing in Corporate Strategy. One of his previous HBR articles is "Corporate Forecasting: Promise and Reality," [coauthor, Darral G. Clarke, NovemberDecember 1976).
The regularity of the growth cyeles of living organisms has always fascinated thoughtful observers and has invited a variety of attempts to apply the same principles—of a predictable sequence of rapid growth followed by maturation, decline, and death-to companies and selected industries. One such concept, known as the "product life cycle/' has been studied in a wide range of organizational settings.' However, there are sufficient opposing theories to raise the doubts of people like N.K. Dhalla and S. Yuspeh, who argued in these same pages a few years ago that businessmen should forget the product life cycle concept.Irrespective of whether the product life