After the launch of the first iPhone in 2007 most people thought that design is the single most important factor for Apple’s success and Jonathan Ive is the genius behind this.
In the years since the launch of the iPhone, we have observed an incredible increase in demand for the iPhone and other Apple products while Apple at the same time nearly doubled its production capacity every year. Apple is not just a world leader in design, but also a world-leader in operations, production and supply chain management. Most of these successes can be credited to Tim Cook, who was formerly COO.
It seems that much of Tim Cook’s thinking might have been influenced by a book called “Competing Against Time: How Time-Based Competition is Reshaping Global Markets as BusinessWeek reports
The new CEO is known to give colleagues copies of Competing Against Time, a book about using supply chains as a strategic weapon in business. According to Martin, the logistics executive, Cook uses a catchphrase to hammer home the need for efficiency: “Nobody wants to buy sour milk.”
A brief review
The book itself has been published in 1990 and while we tend to think that these concepts might have been outdated by globalization and the rise of the Internet, the book covers time-less topics that are relevant today as ever.
Admittedly the book talks a lot about experience curves, portfolio theory and the benefits of reducing complexity in traditional manufacturing processes. These chapters might not contain a lot of straight applicable learnings for somebody working in non-manufacturing, but it is an excellent primer with clear examples about the challenges and opportunities in manufacturing and operations management.
The chapters about gaining advantage by focusing on time-based aspects with regard to customers and money management which are applicable to a broader range of industries and are probably more relevant today than they have been in 1990.
The book ends with chapters on organizational design and time-based strategy, again with plenty of example that can be applied to a broad range of industries. Again many ideas and concepts that can be transferred and the book shows again its timeless nature.
All in all, I can highly recommend the book, it’s a refresher on the basics of operations, production and supply chain management and is a unique book that focuses on time as a strategic differentiator to gain a competitive advantage.
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