Six Steps To The Future: How Mass Customization Is Changing Our World
Edward J. Fern, MS, PMP (Time-to-Profit, Inc.)


1. What is Mass Customization?
In 1980, Toffler1 made the first reference to “de-massified production.” At that time, few of the technologies required for mass customization had developed to the extent required. By 1992, Davidow and Malone2 described the structure of an enterprise capable of supporting the new business model. In 1993, Pine3 coined the name “Mass Customization.” Mass customization is the ability to satisfy the particular needs and wants of individual customers at prices below those of mass produced products and services that only approximate the wishes of many customers in large market niches. Mass customization requires six core competencies:

1. Eliminating Customer Sacrifice
2. Modular Design and Integration
3. Supply Chain Management
4. Lean Production
5. Process Organization
6. Multi-project Management

Multi-project management has the job of tying the other competencies together in response to the needs and wants of individual customers. In the new world of mass customization, every sale is a project. Smooth and efficient satisfaction of customer demand requires smooth and efficient project management. Delivery of customer value becomes the responsibility of process teams who must continuously and quickly re-align their own activities to meet unique requirements. Decision-making, responsibility, and accountability are entrusted to teams, not to individuals. Management focus is on process improvement while personnel management is placed in the hands of process teams acting collectively.

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