Manufacturing is shifting into the digital age, and it’s not only the technologies that are experiencing a transformation. Shifting from siloed and hierarchy-driven business practices to data-driven decision making requires a more collaborative environment, and the cultural changes that go along with this shift can often be intimidating for management. In many cases, manufacturers In many cases, manufacturers that implement new technologies and scale them up within the organization are met with an immediate backlash from their shop floor employees. This clash of cultures and the reticence of employees to embrace these systems often comes as a surprise and may even halt a project in its tracks.
Thus, to enable a successful, non-combative implementation of new technology, it is vital that organizations do not underestimate the value of organizational alignment and their shop floor culture as a part of their digital transformation roadmap.
Building a culture ready for new technology implementation may in fact be more important to the introduction of the new technology itself. Before introducing new technologies, it is essential to evaluate the current culture, strategic leadership, achieve buy-in from the management teams and employees as well as communicate and reinforce alignment around a common goal. We see this alignment around a company mission as paramount to enhancing employee morale as a whole. The benefits of increased employee morale cannot be overstated. The value of an energized, motivated team can positively affect production, efficiency, overall performance, and customer relationships, all of which will go right to the bottom line of profitability.
So how can your company build a plan for digital-readiness for your organization’s culture? At MachineMetrics, we’ve implemented our Industrial IoT Platform in hundreds of shop floors all over the world, each of which have their own unique culture, production processes, and organizational hierarchy. We understand the importance of this preparation to our customers’ success despite how great our or any technology may be. So, here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way to best enable a successful cultural adoption and implementation of new shop floor technology.
Understand the current company culture
Appraising the current culture of your company is the first step before making any type of impactful change. Forbes defines company culture as” the company vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits of the organization”. They go on to say that company culture is not something that the employees create or bring with them to the business; this culture is created from the first person involved, the founders, and is a template that the employees then fit into. Employees more often than not reflect back this ethos and values that the company was created upon. As the company grows, employee general behaviors and habits begin to act as symptoms revealing a healthy or unhealthy culture.
Establish open communication lines
A MachineMetrics customer was recently interviewed regarding cultural change associated with the implementation of our IoT Platform and made it clear that open lines of communication are crucial to help catalyze this cultural shift. “My door is open 95% of the time. I walk the floor multiple times a day, and machinists have the opportunity to address me. Now, I know that could be intimidating for some people, but I try to make sure that I'm approachable, and I think that's important for our entire executive team to understand – that they need to be approachable.
Executive approachability lays the grounds for open communication. Communication builds trust, and trust breeds accountability and a healthy company culture.
Define your purpose with clarity
Having clearly defined goals and a purpose for change or new technologies provides a “why?” for operators and machinists as well as managers. Without a “why” it is almost impossible to inspire the “how.”
One MachineMetrics customer put it this way: “We try to create an environment to establish clarity and alignment, which is very difficult to do in our organization. Only then can you hold people accountable. Hopefully our team sees that and understands it. If people can trust other people, then they're not intimidated to ask questions or make suggestions or address concerns.”
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) can help create a better company culture
In a recent study, researchers found that the associated changes in communication and interaction that resulted from the implementation of new advanced technologies helped lay the communication lines needed to create trust and accountability. So, in a way, these new technologies are actually providing the communication infrastructure needed to boost employee morale.
Additionally, AMTs, like MachineMetrics, provide automated documentation and data collection/reporting shifting the business focus from internal, documentation and information management to a focus on innovation, productivity, adaptation, and profitability.
Remember: New habits take time
Everything is harder the first time you do it, but overtime, there is increased experience and therefore confidence increases. One of our customers experienced first hand how time can help overcome some cultural challenges in manufacturing. “The more those instances came about, the more they were addressed the right way, the more comfortable our team got utilizing MachineMetrics.”
Educate and Empower!
Education and coaching from management is key. This can help define the “why” and get employees to embrace the new technology and feel empowered by using it. With MachineMetrics, helping the operators understand what certain metrics mean on their tablets has greatly helped manufacturers shift the culture within their organization.
Would you describe your current company culture as one that:
Emphasizes data-driven action?
Exercises open and clear communication?
For legacy manufacturing companies, this culture change can oftentimes be the biggest challenge with digital transformation. Embedding a digital culture into a manufacturing organization is possible, but it takes clear efforts and methodologies and buy-in. Not embracing and fostering a cultural shift along with a digital transformation of your organization runs the risk of the implementation of those technologies ending in failure.
To learn more about how one company embraced the cultural change as part of their implementation of MachineMetrics, join our webinar HERE.