As you become exposed to manufacturing processes, you can see that the variability is taken as something that is not welcome.
Variability in manufacturing increases risks, causes lack of prediction, enforce application of parametric and financial guardbands, increases complexity and variable costs. Copy-exactly is a strong credo in factories. Unstable processes are nightmare. Bottom line – looks like you would like to have it all stable.
In other hand, in dynamic world the lack of variability is as fatal as chaos. Precise manufacturing is causing stagnation, fragility, low reliability. Such products cause inability to sense market and adapt to the change. Such consumer products are boring and broadcast a strong smell of commodity.
What if we will not fight with variability? What if we will not just learn to live with it, like by making segmentation of products and adjusted pricing based on nature-God-physics-man-driven Gaussian quality ? No. What if we will embrace it? What if we will integrate it into our product as basic essential property? What if our incomes would grow with increased manufacturing variability? What if we leverage it and establish a beneficial feedback based on instability?
Example of it can be abandoned stable aerodynamic architecture in modern combat aircrafts, that have relaxed stability and moving towards unstable design. This way they gain new extreme characteristics, such as better maneuvering, air defense resistance or fuel saving.
Another example is smartphone AppStore, which was grown by embracing the variability of applications.
But the growing variability has its price. It could bring inefficiency, losses, chaos, crash and lots of unpleasant things in our life. All this in case we will not care for a proper control. The variability can be a great power, as long as it is managed by system which is complex enough to navigate processes within the scope of our business.
In our example, the relaxed stability of aircraft is managed by fly-by-wire system and without it would cause the immediate fall.
Hundreds of thousands of apps in AppStore would become a chaos or just would not be there without proper management process and tools.
Have you already pushed the limits of your product and see growing instability of various mechanic, electro-mechanic, logistic, managerial, SW, business or other properties? Ask yourself what should you do to love this instability. Imagine this variability of products or processes that you’ve got increased thousand times and ask how do you make this world better (and make money) from it? Build a product and manufacturing which are leveraging variability. Seek antifragility (not a robustness), immunity (not a health), dynamics (not a stability).
Do you have a power variability? Ask yourself how can you make better products by increasing the dynamic range of power. Cross products and within a product. You can see that you have a new product with great properties and bringing a great value for customers.
Do you have to create same garment and struggling to choose between meeting standards and ever changing designs? Why not to abandon trying to predict the consumer demand, or sensing by long full-value-chain? Try to increase purposely variability of product. Try to imagine that every person on the earth wants his own design. Can you supply it? Can you integrate a controlled variability in manufacturing to make it? For example create a random (unique!) color scheme. I call it “Exclusification of Manufacturing” and it is meant to mitigate the gap between Art and Commodity.
Do you produce yogurts? Make amount of fruits vary considerably more and promote it as a benefit. You might find a growth in demand of surprised consumers.
The concept can be used not only in manufacturing, but in economics, programming, services, education and more – everywhere you meet a variability of process. Embrace variability, control it with your hug and you will find a great friend right next to you.