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Creating a Successful Digital Transformation Journey

Manufacturers today are facing ever-increasing pressure to increase revenue and meet customers’ demands more efficiently, all the while maintaining the highest quality. In a recent manufacturing cost optimization article by my colleague, Jim Mansfield, he discussed that it’s common for improvement initiatives or programs to have technical challenges; most point to challenges as the reason for not meeting expectations.

The success and sustainability of such initiatives is not just a technology problem. According to change research conducted by GE, 100% of all changes evaluated as “successful” have had good technical solutions or approaches; yet over 98% of all changes evaluated as “unsuccessful” have also had a good technical solution. So why do most improvement initiatives fail to meet expectations or not remain sustainable with consistent results?

Below are the four areas that need to be considered as part of a successful transformation journey.

1 – What are the most important objectives (MIOs)? Are they well defined? Are they measurable? Many of the challenges organizations face derive from an inability to bring clarity to strategy, connect a solid plan and execute. We bounce against ceilings of complexity as a result of an unbalanced approach. In order to break those ceilings of complexity, you must have balance between the four dimensions of business – financial, customer, process and people. I call this the ‘physics of business.’ Studies have shown that the average person can remember 4-7 items at once, so I suggest limiting your MIOs for any given initiative to 3-4 maximum. Management consultant Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” The MIOs you choose must have defined measurables that you can track.

2 – Who is leading the change? Who will facilitate and lead to drive continual results? Every initiative needs leadership throughout the duration of the project or program, or it will be in jeopardy of failing. Millennials, the largest generation in the current labor force, specifically have been found to desire a collaborative approach in developing the “why” behind an initiative and its goals. A RASCI matrix should be created and used to drive results, outlining the following:

  • Responsible: Who owns the problem/project?
  • Accountable: Who needs to approve the activity?
  • Supportive: What resources have a supportive role?
  • Consulted: What resources have information or capabilities to complete the work?
  • Informed: Who needs to be kept in the loop?

People in general need a sense of purpose to be a part of something. Most of us are also hardwired to want to win or succeed in our jobs. Recognizing the people behind the strategy is even more important than the tools and technology.

3 – What is the cultural and organizational strategy? Creating an environment that encourages collaboration with clearly defined outcomes will engage the organization to drive change and results. If you were to ask members of your workforce, “what are you doing,” what would their answers be? Would they be whatever task they are executing at the time, or would they be the summary of the MIOs? In order to achieve operational ease, be sure to address barriers such as poor communication, silo decisions/turf wars, lack of accountability and lack of urgency/clarity. John Kotter’s change management thought leaders believe there are eight factors to creating a culture of change:

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build a guiding coalition
  • Develop the vision/strategy
  • Communicate the vision
  • Empower the group to perform
  • Generate short term wins
  • Don’t let up
  • Make it stick

4 – What is the technical strategy? When choosing the technology stack you will use, step one is to clearly understand what systems you have today and how they interact. Step two is to determine what the desired future state is. Step three is to identify the improvement opportunities, and step four is to develop a roadmap for success. There will be a need to create a visual picture of what elements are in/out of scope. The use of value stream mapping and/or a SIPOC diagram (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs and customers) are very helpful tools to highlight what elements are required within the process improvement.

Technology alone truly isn’t enough. Most organizations include complex systems that cannot be understood by only examining their parts; they also need to know how those parts interact. I believe the solutions to optimization exist today. They exist in our people, processes and technology together. By properly deploying a collaborative team and empowering our employees within the manufacturing and construction environments, we can run more efficiently, decrease time to market and increase quality, all while reducing cost.

At Faith Technologies, we know that the value that can be realized is multiplied and has greater potential to be sustained when we work as a collaborative team for concept, design, delivery and sustainability. How do you work to optimize your customer’s journey?