IndustryWeek’s 2011 Manufacturing Hall of Fame

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on January 5, 2012 · 4 comments

IndustryWeek, the magazine for whom I now right a bi-monthly columned titled Lessons from the Road, just released the 2011 class of the Manufacturing Hall of Fame. Our co-founder of the Lean Learning Center, Dennis Pawley, was named in the Class of 2010.

I won’t spoil the whole list, which you can view here, but there were a few names I thought I would make special mention of.

The first is Jay Forrester. Jay’s work on systems dynamics shined a light on many places on the interconnectivity of the world, whether in economics, supply chains, or even human welfare. Most efforts of modeling before his work were based on keeping all variables independent. Most efforts today are trying to understand how they are dependent for new insights and understanding. His contributions were both specific and broad and I’m very glad to see this selection. I once got to shake his hand, but would have much preferred taking a course from him while I was at MIT.

The second under appreciated contributor to manufacturing is Richard Morley, who invented the programmable logic controller, or PLC. This is the heart of much of manufacturing automation, and resulting productivity improvements. I still see companies today making their first forays into PLC use with great gains from the effort. As if that wasn’t enough, he also invested the floppy disk (some of you might not remember what that is). Morley is one of the people in life that I’d really like to meet but haven’t had the opportunity.

Third, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and both predictor and fulfiller of Moore’s Law, was named. Moore’s law “predicted” that the number of components on a chip would double every year (or two years). Of course, predictions are easy, but actually doing the work to make them come true is where the real work is. Gordon, and the entire Intel organization that helped build, deserves much credit for the computing power of today.


Finally, I wanted to mention our friend John Shook, who took over the Lean Enterprise Institute for already-inducted Jim Womack. Where Jim was excellent at using the pulpit of the LEI to set a vision for lean, John has been great at creating practical advice which help people achieve that vision. I first met John in 1994 and while I only get to run into him once in a great while, I always enjoy the conversations.

Question: So, who have them missed? Who should be in the class of 2012?

1 Mark Graban January 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Plenty of deserving candidates, as you mentioned. But Lafley from P&G? Maybe a great CEO, but what’s his lasting contribution to manufacturing?

2 Jamie Flinchbaugh January 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm

P&G did do a lot of voice of the customer, innovation, and they did a lot on distribution and logistics. However, none of that is actually manufacturing.

Mulally is a tough call too. Do you recognize him for what he’s done so far, or do you wait to see what the final verdict is? Not easy choices.

So who should they have added instead?

3 Mark Graban January 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I think you add the number of people who deserve it, rather than reaching to hit some sort of quota each year. Make it like the baseball Hall of Fame, where the # of people varies each year. The Hall of Fame has an open, transparent voting process — IW??

I’m cynical about the IW Hall of Fame, that the real purpose is to promote IndustryWeek, just as the Modern Healthcare “Top 100 in Healthcare List” is just a promotion for that magazine.

No offense meant to the deserving who are selected.

4 Jamie Flinchbaugh January 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Got to talk with Dick Morley today. A real treat. A bit of an insight into how his brain created what it has.

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