The Future of Manufacturing

By Fred Stahl

How can American manufacturing recapture its former dominance in the globalized industrial economy? The answer is Worker Leadership, a revolutionary concept for organizing and managing production that creates highly productive jobs loaded with responsibility and authority. Workers love these jobs precisely because they offer big opportunities to be creative and productive. Enterprise managers and capitalists love the profits. And revitalized unions love the shared responsibility with management for growth and profitability. Below, Fred Stahl argues that Worker Leadership is the future of manufacturing.

America can again be the manufacturing juggernaut it once was. The secret of success will be a new kind of production system. More than any other, this new system of work uses the most valuable asset of any enterprise—the minds of its workers— to lead production.

This revolutionary production system depends on an unconventional theory for organizing work and managing workers. Many managers strive to improve productivity by supervising workers using methods derived from a popular but ineffectual premise: that a happy worker is a productive worker. The new Theory of Worker Productivity releases the productive power of the workforce by applying a fresh and effective premise of human behavior in work:

A productive worker is a happy worker.

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