Monday, September 30, 2019

From C-Suite to D-Suite: Manufacturing’s Digital Leaders




Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are reshaping manufacturing—boosting productivity, enhancing agility and significantly impacting workforces. High-performance companies are upskilling their teams to complement technology and to perform new tasks that machines can’t accomplish. Making peace with such a skills revolution requires leadership that can encourage a culture of learning and agility. Change is the new normal, starting with role models at the top of the organization who show they can adapt fast.
 
ManpowerGroup has analyzed the skills revolution required to support the future of industry in a new report: “The Future Factory.” Although the manufacturing industry was our backdrop and focus, the insight we garnered isn’t limited to the factory floor. Many of our findings relate to all industries, and can be narrowed down to two key insights:
  1. It is now possible to ‘dissect’ industries and companies to forecast future workforce needs. We can do it, so we should do it, to stay ahead of the change.
  2. Positioning a workforce for the future requires a different kind of leadership. Companies need to transition their C-suite to a Digital-Suite – a group of Digital Leaders.
This is the start line.
D-suite leaders are analytical thinkers who are connected and comfortable with digital technology. As with any kind of leader, they need to be bright, adaptable and possess endurance and drive. D-Suite leaders also need to emphasize the following competencies:
  • Unleashing talent by building a culture of learning and career development
  • Accelerating performance by encouraging collaboration
  • Daring to lead by fostering innovation, taking calculated risks and managing courageous decisions
These qualities are coachable - all the better because leaders who learn set a great example for employees who are confronted with the task of acquiring new skills. 
 
D-Suite leadership is essential in guiding the broader digitization of roles across the manufacturing enterprise. More than a quarter (28 percent) of jobs in production and processing will be completely different in the future. Other industries will soon find their futures looking equally ripe for transformation. The D-Suite needs to identify digital leaders throughout the ranks of the workforce. ManpowerGroup has identified three archetypes based on the level of impact that they have in an organization and one of these, Pioneers, has a pivotal role to play in driving change.
 
Pioneers are the people in your teams who come up with new ideas or processes (the other archetypes are Keystones who turn pioneering ideas into workable strategies and Producers who follow through and create the final product).
 
Pioneers among the ranks of your own workforce can influence suppliers, especially strategic suppliers where relationships are very close. That means decisions by a Pioneer on your team can ripple through your entire supply network. Conversely, if your organization is short on digital leaders and/or idea-generating pioneers, your entire organization and supply chain will feel it.  Digital leadership needs to be cultivated at all levels of the organization. The D-Suite sets the tone, enabling other  leaders to spread new, digital processes  to all corners of the community.

How Will Your Manufacturing Workforce Change?


Technology is transforming every industry today, with manufacturing at the forefront of the change, in terms of both scope and speed. It has always been this way. The Industrial Revolution brought conventional manufacturing. Let’s call this Generation Zero – the metaphorical ‘ground zero’ of what was to follow. Then came Generation One, from 1970 to 2005, an era when new hardware and software rapidly improved automated processes. Today we are nearing the end of Generation Two, characterized by the transformational power of radical improvements in software that streamlined processes and more effectively utilized data. While each company will progress at their own rate, next year, manufacturing begins its shift to Generation Three, with machines coming into their own, teaching and learning from each other.

Note the timing: it took nearly three-quarters of a century to move from Generation Zero; the next shift was achieved in less than half that time. Still, Generation One was a time when a factory worker could learn a skill and do almost the same job for an entire career. Generation Two lasted only 15 years, and we already have another shift upon us. Rapid, transformational change is the new normal.


Change, however, can be unsettling, especially for workers who may have chosen a trade passed down by earlier generations of their families, the kinds of jobs that represented stability. Today, job training isn’t one and done but a lifelong process of learning. Companies can relieve a lot of employee stress around new technology by fostering a learning environment: even as new technology will make some parts of a job obsolete, individuals can be skilling up to learn new skills as their role changes. For people willing to learn, there is stability in change.

Companies might think they have dealt with change because they have already automated and undergone digital transformation. But the next generation goes beyond automation to become both autonomous and predictive. Machines are not only doing the physical work but are also thinking, thanks to artificial intelligence. This amplifies the effects on the workforce beyond what’s previously been felt.

That means training needs to change to help people become fluent in AI. We’ve identified 165 roles for future jobs. We’ve broken down the roles into seven domains of technical expertise. To prepare workers for the jobs of the future, we’ve found that short, focused upskilling—six months or less—works best (See: Employment in the Production Line). Too much information presented over too long a period makes employees feel they’re drinking through a firehose. Short sessions, that leverage badges to show employees and managers which skills have been learned, give workers a sense of accomplishment. Repeating training or refresher courses are often needed to cement the new knowledge—and not a sign that the original training didn’t work.

In our “Humans Wanted” report, while all employees will need upskilling, for up to 35 percent of workers, less than six months of training should be enough to lift them to the next level. Nine percent will need six to 12 months, while 10 percent will take more than a year to upskill to achieve a next level position. 
 
Digitization isn’t eliminating jobs, but it will impact most roles/functions. Meanwhile, it’s also creating new functions, and creating job growth on the whole across the manufacturing sector. With manufacturers facing a skills shortage, upskilling is essential to fill the gap. Nobody can predict the future, but with the right skills, a culture of learning and a focus on helping people develop their careers for in-demand jobs, we can be better prepared.