The Manager’s Guide to Industry 4.0 Projects: Path to Scale

This post was first published on SmarterChains’ blog.

Manufacturing companies must leverage the agile principles of software engineering: Iterate, test, analyze, and test again until they drive scale

Many executives wish their companies would transform; they just don’t know how. What companies did in the past did little to prepare them for what they have to do now, in the fourth industrial era, the age of digital, the age of Adhocracy. Whereas work used to be structured, hierarchical and clearly defined now it has become continuous, autonomous and ever-changing.

To succeed in this era, manufacturing companies must leverage the agile principles of software engineering: Iterate, test, analyze, and test again until they drive scale.

Getting Started

Turn your vision into discrete initiatives: Initiatives should build up to the company’s major objective, but each should offer its own business value. Most importantly, each initiative should be small enough to test quickly.

Break down initiatives to their constituent components. Each component builds on each other incrementally and is simple enough to get tackled autonomously by a small empowered team. This ensures speed, agility and makes testing and learning easy.

Launch the minimum viable prototype. This approach assesses the concept’s viability, its potential business benefit and immediately leverages customer feedback to improve future iterations. As customer feedback plays a key role in all future iterations, achieving product-customer fit gets easier.

Hands-on leadership. Leaders don’t just assist transformation; they amplify it. To do so, leaders should first embrace the 5-essential digital-ready mindset principles. In practice, they should empower individuals, share lessons with teams, be quick to support winning trials and pivot away or shut down those that fail.

Rinse and repeat. The process outlined above does not have an end line. Fostering the initiatives that work, while simultaneously being quick to abandon all those that don’t is the path to digital enterprise success. This continuous process, for all its merits (and for all its weaker points) is just the way modern business works.

SOURCES

· World Economic Forum (2018): The Digital Enterprise — Moving from experimentation to transformation