Saturday, February 01, 2020

Industry 4.0 - People & Cultural Imperative

Smart Manufacturing: - Cultural Imperative

(This article is written by Vinod Bidwaik & Swanand Deshapande with inputs from Rahul Bagale

On 24th Jan 2020, Kalinga Management Institute and Kontempore organised a good session on Smart Manufacturing where almost 20 senior HR, Operational Excellence and Manufacturing professionals came together and deliberated on different aspects of smart manufacturing. There were 4 groups who discussed about People, Process and Technology. Overall it was a great discussion, however in such discussions, participants tend to discuss a lot generic stuff and this needs to be made clearer in view of changing technology.

I realised that I should take this topic for further discussion on my blog. I also have my certain views on this topic and let’s discuss what is all about.

Smart Manufacturing is that way of working where computer-integrated manufacturing- like Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Robots, PLCs and automatic machines are deployed. It also means manufacturing processes have high levels of adaptability and rapid design changes. Digital information technology is used widely; the workforce is multitasking and flexible. In Smart Manufacturing processes are well defined, design is simple & lean and workforce is super capable to handle technology and rapid changes. Industry 4.0 is the next step in smart manufacturing. It requires continuous innovation because lifecycle of products & technology will be going to get shorter & shorter.

In such scenario what are those people elements we need to consider? There are many. There were few questions we need to ask while working on Industry 4.0
  • What is your people strategy and future talent requirements? (People Strategy)
  • What kind of workforce you need? (Skills, Capabilities and Competencies)
  • How do you build that capabilities to work in Industry 4.0? (Talent Management & People development) 
  • What are those cultural elements we need to consider? (Organizational Culture) 
  • How effectively you will implement this change? (Change Management)
Let’s discuss one by one:

People Strategy: While designing any strategy you need to keep in mind, the customer and the market in which you are operating. Always keep in mind the consequences of the strategy on end customer. This is applicable in all strategies in the organization. For this you need to evaluate the current situation, what customer expects, and what are those changes you need to work on. 

It is well explained in the following diagram.

Future Workforce: We need a workforce which is agile, flexible with right mindset. Entitlement mindset will not have any roles in the organization. There will be more roles with individual contributors instead of team leader’s role. People will have to operate multiple machines, robots, 3 D printing machines. They need to learn, understand those machines. Machines will be much more complex mechanical parts will be integrated with electronic parts & then finally with software & internet.  If there are some issues while operating, they also need to know the troubleshooting. For this technical knowledge with analytical skills and problem-solving skills will be required more. Teams will be more empowered, and they will be able to take decisions on the shop floor about the product quality. Concept of dual role started in many organizations due to few roles becoming redundant. Hence, multi-talented employees will be in demand & for sure they will be assets of any organization. Future workforce of India needs to excel, since we are not that much agile while contributing to job. Concept of freelancer/Gig worker started taking its shape, such gig jobs will be evolving by reducing full time requirement. 

Demographics of workforce shall change; team shall consist of young as well as experienced people. They both will operate from different consciousness & maturity. Old people will bring in experience & young people will bring in fresh ideas. The main challenge is to create confluence of old & young in order to make them work collaboratively on a common goal. 
Workforce required in smart manufacturing shall be open to learn & adaptable. The rate of change in technology will be much faster & will exceed our ability to adapt. Self-learning & curiosity will help us adapt that fast-paced technological change. In the era of smart manufacturing skills are perishable. Everyday, we are hitting with new technological challenge & hence today’s skills will be outdated tomorrow. So, we need people who can self-learn, curious, agile, adaptable & multi skill. 

Talent Management & People Development: This is crucial even today, but going forward, HR have to focus on skilling and re-skilling their employees. You have to define talent philosophy practically. Gig economy will change the dimensions of the workforce. You need to figure out ways to make your talent more flexible, agile and technically sound in the areas they operate.

There will be scarcity of ready to perform talent availability.  So, hire for the right attitude or difficult to develop competencies (as stated in above points) and train for skills. Creating tour of duties to fulfill budding aspiration will be a challenge & polices needs to flexible for that.  Many jobs will perish & new kind of jobs will be created to meet the requirement of IIoT. 

People Development: In future, people having ability to impact on organization results will only survive. Hence, employee needs to go work extra miles to take next role will be preferred. By coming out from your comfort zone and acquiring knowledge will be pathway for the future. For career growth one needs blends of variety of sectors including manufacturing, consulting, FMCG to understand challenges of other sectors.
Culture and Change Management: This is a big change management. Identify the
theme and create your culture agenda to work in the Industry 4.0. 

Industry 4.0 shall require a culture of learn fast & fail fast. Mistakes should not be treated as a sin. Culture should allow people to think out of the box & experiment to meet changing demands of technology & clients. How you take decisions will matter. Teams need to involve every stake holder while making decisions. On the other hand, this should not consume a lot of time in order to beat the high rate of change. Challenges should inspire people to do more & achieve more.  
Industry 4.0 will require involvement of stakeholders even outside organization. Clients, outsourced technology partners, suppliers should be involved at right place in order to create sustainable products & technology. 

Culture should encourage risk taking (of course calculated) & inspire people to take initiative and lead. It should also facilitate constant learning, sharing of experiences. Creating such learning platform online & offline will foster innovation. 

Performance management should measure people on team’s performance/ delivery and not focused on individual goals. Successful deployment of product, technology will be a key goal to look for. Behaviors such as collaborative different views, putting team’s objective above self, empathetic listening, taking initiatives & being emotionally intelligence will contribute to the team's success. 

Leadership will require a big shift. Carrot & stick approach will not work. There will always be better ways of doing things. Gone are the days of leadership who says, ‘My way is Highway’. Democratic leadership which intends to collaborate on different ideas will thrive. Micro-management shall be the last thing to do. Leadership will cascade down the culture. Leaders must earn respect, colleagues/subordinates will not respect you only because of experience & age. Leaders need to be on the job with the people. Participative & servant leadership only will create right ‘Smell of the Place’ for Industry 4.0. 

Culture should allow different leaders to emerge in a different situation. Every situation & challenge will demand different skills & leadership style. One size doesn’t fit all.  No single leadership style will sustain. 

People will face change very often & hence they should not view change as a threat to them. Why most change management attempts fails? : Is because people feel insecure & make it a question of their survival. Once this happens, they only focus on survival not proliferation or growth. Following strategies may help change succeed:
  • Make people part of the change & let them drive it. 
  • Make people clear of: ‘What's in it for them?’ 
  • Show people the fruits of change & explain them how it is good for them
  • Train people on emotional intelligence so that they won’t operate from reptilian brain and think logically. 
  • Appoint change ambassador in sphere of organization so that they watch it carefully & drive it democratically. 
  • Take constant feedback from people & change ‘Change management strategies’ if required. 

Constant change is inevitable in Industry 4.0 & it should become part of people’s lives. 


Industry 4.0 will be an exciting as well as challenging future in terms of technology & people. Every day, people need to sharpen their saw in terms of skills. Developing, retaining & creating talent will be hard task for HR on the backdrop of high rate of change. Culture shall play a vital role in smart manufacturing as it will drive required behaviors for successful journey in this new era.  Constant emergence of new leadership along with change champion strategies stated above will make Industry 4.0 more fun place to work. As everything’s is revolving around the customer, change is vital in the organization. However, at the same time CEOs are expecting ROI less than 3 years, hence typically working on margins is crucial for head of business. Let’s gear up for it! 

What do you think? What are those capabilities we need to develop in view of Industry 4.0? What are those Skills, Capabilities and Behaviours? Please click on comments to respond.

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