This article describes very well certain problems occurring in part of the western world, including the Netherlands from where I am sending this. Therefore I rated it with 4 stars. All of us have to go for 5 stars, however, and in my humble opinion I have some ideas which might contribute. Questions we need good answers to: what can we do, what should we do, what better way to deal with the situation than by our own (industrial) strength?
Many say that we have to move from products to services. But even if this would be fully true, how do these services reach us? Most consumers wouldn't want to give up their flatscreen TV, laptop, iPod or mobile phone, which enable these services. So we do need products. Consumer needs, both known and latent, should be the primary driver for product development. If this fails, or the communication about it fails, then the story ends here. "Consumer" may of course also be a business, such as an airline, a retail shop, etc., etc.
The next step is to realize the products. A trivial prerequisite is that it can be done with profitable business activity. The text below is quoted from experts and applicable to my field which I would best describe as design for product realization, specifically with plastics. The philosophy behind these quotes, however, is generally applicable in my view.
* A multidisciplinary team is fully involved and committed from the earliest design stages until full-scale production and beyond (you need to have an answer to end-of-life issues too, regardless of your opinion about them).
* During product design and development there will be detailed discussions between different team members, each of them entering others persons' fields of expertise: tear down those remaining walls between departments and between companies!
* Stay up to date on new technological developments, innovative materials, etc., actively search for their (potential) benefits, translate these into product design opportunities, and then compare all alternative solutions before choosing. If you decide to stick to the old way, this decision should be based on such a comparison, and not on incomplete infomation or on the desire to avoid risks associated with new conceptions.
* Tool making starts at the same time as product design (this is definitely needed for realization of plastics injection molded products, but the idea behind it should apply to other activities too).
It is easy to list a few dozens of such quotes and I will gladly supply the sources to anyone interested. But do all industries work this way? Of course, no one ever said it will be easy, any change will appear to be disturbing, and errors are possible in a change process. If you don't want product development and manufacturing to move away from you, then make sure to offer a better alternative to the persons taking care of financing!
I would welcome any critical comment on the above.