If excellence, total quality, competitiveness, global strategy, and empowerment have been among the most popular buzz words of the eighties, what are the most likely buzz words of the nineties? We don't really care. What we do care about is the articulation of an approach for firms to achieve ever stronger market positions through an unquenchable thirst for improvement. Within these pages we present a management package tailored to do just that. All this probably sounds very familiar--as it should--since most firms obviously seek to be successful by stimulating high commitment among their employees. What may not sound very familiar is the route we employ to get there from here. The concept of value takes center stage in our presentation. It is the elixir that can bring a new vitality to the practice of management. Starting from Porter's concept of the value chain, we propose a simplified version of the chain to clearly illuminate the process of value creation in products and services. When coupled with our detailed analysis of important customer needs (the components of value, as we term them), what emerges is a potent technique for strategic management characterized by a constant striving to maximize value delivered to customers.
With continuous improvements in value as a launching pad, we shift gears to a how-to mode. We consider the concept of value in light of the actions and experiences of world-class business firms, particularly those of Japanese and American origin. Rather than provide our readers with a laboriously compiled list of practices successfully adopted by the giants of global competition, we have tried to distill the essence of value man-