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M4.0 Will Require a New Leadership Model

Posted By Jeff Moad, June 07, 2016 at 1:44 PM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

As Manufacturing 4.0 takes place in their organizations, manufacturing leaders must get better at collaborating, communicating, making data-driven decisions, and even thinking of ways to use new digitally-enabled processes and business models to drive revenues, a panel of leadership experts said at today’s 12th annual Manufacturing Leadership Summit in Carlsbad, CA.

The panel, moderated by Manufacturing Leadership Council Co-Founder and Global Vice President David R. Brousell, featured Jill Geoge, global manufacturing practice leader at Development Dimensions International; Allison Grealis, president of Women in Manufacturing; Irene Petrick, director of business strategy at Intel Corporation, and John Fleming, the recently-retired executive vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs at Ford Motor Company.

Today, said George, fewer than 6% of manufacturing leaders are proficient at selling the vision of M4.0 inside their organizations or communicating its value to and for customers.

At the same time, as M4.0 and the Internet of Things increases the quantity and value of operational data, manufacturing leaders must get better at sharing data and making data-driven decisions, panelists said. Ford, for example, recently created a new chief of analytics role to put processes into place that will help the company make better use of data streaming from its plants and products.

Collaborative decision-making proficiency will also be required of manufacturing leaders, particularly as new digital technologies rapidly transform business processes. “In the past, companies could rely on relatively stable processes, but today it changes much faster, so no one has all information to make decisions,” noted George. “Leaders are going to need to call on collective assets to make decisions.”

And manufacturing leaders will need to become more comfortable with making risky decisions, particularly regarding the introduction of new technologies and the operational and cultural disruptions they can bring. At the same time, leaders must not abdicate their responsibilities to customers and shareholders, said Fleming. “We do need to be open to taking more risks, but there needs to be a balance,” he said. “I’m for taking risk, but I’ll have somebody else go out of the airplane with the new, untested parachute.”

In order to begin to transform leadership skills and roles in the M4.0 era, panelists said, manufacturers should begin by identifying and redefining a few key roles. The global quality manager in the M4.0 era, for example, should be focused on developing global quality standards and communicating their value to customers, not just focusing on quality tools, Jill said.

Manufacturing organizations should also focus on increasing leadership diversity in order to improve the likelihood that they are able to spot and react to never-before-seen trends, said Grealis.  


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Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit



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