Q: What do you see as the biggest chal-
lenges facing the manufacturing industry
in the next five years?
A: It comes back to people. Both attracting and retaining the next generation of talented engineers and scientists that are coming out of colleges and universities from
around the world, and retaining your key
team members with years of industry experience, by making sure that you create what
I would call (and others call) a culture of
innovation. You give them room to run, you
give them room to fail and learn from that
to move the organization forward. I think
if you do that, then all the technology that’s
coming out around 4.0 starts to become
very useful and valuable.
Because if you don’t have the right people onboard that are fully bought into the
value that all these new tools can bring, and
are willing to make the investment in learning how to properly use those tools for your
business, it’s not going to work. You can
invest millions of dollars in great tools but
if you don’t have your people behind it, it
just doesn’t matter.
Q: What key leadership skills will be need-
ed in a future manufacturing enterprise?
A: I think it will require leaders to understand that his or her job is to consistently
challenge yourself and your team, even
when things are going well, and to make
sure that you’re not losing focus on the sort
of culture of innovation that got you to
where you are now.
There’s also a new type of mindset with
the younger generation of employees, the
so called Millenials. As leaders we need
to work out the best way to marry their
energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm,
with the mission and goals of the organi-
zation. This will mean challenging some
old rules of management by sharing/as-
signing more responsibilities sooner than
you have in the past in order to keep them
motivated and challenged. Clearly there
needs to be a clearly defined and timely
accountability loop so this doesn’t lead to
chaos, but it requires managers to provide
them with more running room around
clearly defined goals.
Leaders also need to think about the best
way to leverage all this great new technology that’s coming out in 4.0. How do we
make sense of the massive amounts of data
coming out of our businesses every day?
And then, how do you distil all that back
down to the human factor, to make sure
that you’re bringing in the people that can
help make all of those pieces come together
in a valuable way?
So as a leader, I think you’ve got to think
about what sort of teams you need to have?
What are the right tools you need to have? And
not lose sight of your ultimate mission to deliver the value you want to bring to your customers and into your market. And then make
sure everyone is focused on that, every day.
Q: Finally, if you had to focus on one thing
as a watchword or catchphrase for the
future of manufacturing, what would that
be and why?
A: It’s “Transformational Innovation”. How
do you really use innovation, in the broadest
sense, with the Manufacturing 4.0 piece that
we’ve been talking about, developments in
new material science, and new technology
that’s coming out from universities and research labs every day? How do you use all that
innovation to really transform a company,
an industry, a market, or a product, across
the segment that you care about? That’s the
future of manufacturing. M
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“You can invest
great tools but
if you don’t
have the people
behind it, it