Chapter OneWhat Is Agility—and Why Is It Valuable?

During the post–World War II boom in home appliances in 1951, General Electric (GE) broke ground on its Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The complex quickly grew to include six factory buildings the size of shopping malls, and became so immense that it had its own fire department, its own power plant—even its own ZIP code. In 1953, GE purchased a UNIVAC computer to handle payroll, becoming the first business in the world to own a computer (only governments had owned them up until that time).1 By 1955, Appliance Park employed sixteen thousand workers, and by 1973, twenty-three thousand. During the 1960s, the workers at Appliance Park were turning out sixty thousand appliances each week. ...

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