The idea of corporate or organizational culture encompasses many things. Culture includes the collective values, beliefs, and principles of an organization’s members. Culture also reflects an organization’s vision, systems, location, and type of product made. An organization’s history is a major influence on its culture as is its style of leadership and management. And, sometimes, an organization’s culture can have subcultures that produce conflicts.
It’s no wonder that famed management consultant Peter Drucker’s quip about culture – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – is widely quoted in many discussions and articles about culture. After all, people and their patterns of behavior, individual and collective, can determine whether a business strategy is successfully accomplished or not.

But there is another Drucker insight, perhaps less quoted, that is particularly useful when thinking about the kind of culture that manufacturers need as they proceed on their journey to Manufacturing 4.0. It is: “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”.

What we have seen over the years of tracking the progress of M4.0 is that manufacturing organizations are giving up the old ways of organizing work and how people are managed as they make the often difficult shift from traditional command-and-control organizational models to flatter, more collaborative ways of doing things.

By taking advantage of digital technologies, manufacturers are also intent on breaking down functional silos and integrating their organizations cross-functionally to a much greater degree than ever before as they pursue greater speed, flexibility, and agility in decision-making processes that can lead to greater innovation, efficiency, and the creation of new competitive advantages.

These changes are often inspired by cultural considerations but also result in changes to culture.

This issue of the Journal is devoted to exploring organizational culture in the M4.0 era from a variety of perspectives. A key takeaway is that culture involves all aspects of the organization – processes, human behavior, technology, leadership – and that the road to the future will be much smoother for those manufacturers that orchestrate change well across all of these dimensions. Write to me at dbrousell@nam.org   M