One of the key findings of our new, first-ever survey on corporate culture in the Manufacturing 4.0 era is that a vast majority of manufacturing companies believe their cultures need to change to successfully transition to the digital model of doing business.

The underlying question, though, is how does this change come about and what is the optimal profile of the right culture for the times?

Frankly, culture change is already afoot in many manufacturing companies whether intended or not. That’s because a set of market forces is instigating the change. Chief among these are advanced technologies that are enabling cross-functional integration, thereby changing decision-making processes; younger people coming into the workforce expecting to work in flatter, more collaborative environments in which they have challenging work; and, of course, the shift to mass customization, which requires companies to be more agile and flexible.

The challenge before manufacturing executives is to orchestrate these changes in a way that will drive growth into the future. That’s no easy or simple task, but the starting point must be with people.

And what does an M4.0 culture look like? It’s a meritocracy, data-driven and able to move fast and with precision to meet market needs. People think about technology not just as something that can improve efficiency and productivity, but, importantly, as an enabler of new products, services, and ways of doing things. M4.0 cultures think digital first.

This issue has a series of articles that looks as various aspects of the cultural transformation underway in manufacturing. In “M4.0: It’s Really a Cultural Revolution”, MLC Content Director Penelope Brown says the path to the new cultural paradigm is still a bit cloudy.

Council member Danny Smith of Ceridian, in “Success With M4.0 Will be Powered by People”, argues that manufacturers must abandon M2.0 employee management approaches and adopt a smart “Employee Experience” mentality to motivate younger workers. And in “Paradox M4.0: People First or Technology First?, Council member Livia Macedo from DDI says that manufacturers must make their people strategy their top priority if they are going to succeed with M4.0.

Enjoy the issue!

Write to me at dbrousell@nam.org   M