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ML Journal June 2022

POV: Digital Leadership and Workforce

Today’s manufacturing leadership teams must make bold decisions to realize the full potential of Manufacturing 4.0.   

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” While Dr. King’s statement was made regarding spiritual aspirations, the sentiment could also apply to leadership in manufacturing’s digital era.

Today’s manufacturing leaders aren’t flying blind, but they are certainly navigating some foggy conditions. There is the need to determine which digital technologies will produce the most operational impact. With all the data collection enabled by that technology, there is the question of which data are the most useful and relevant. And of course, there are the questions of how the organization should be structured, and what new digital roles should be added to the workforce.

Moreso than other recent generations, these leaders are being asked to find answers for questions that have never been asked before. And they are doing all of that in a time of supply shortfalls, transport disruptions, geopolitical upheaval, fast-changing regulatory requirements, and the ever-present labor shortage that has plagued manufacturing for years.

But as these leaders learn, they are slowly but surely ascending that uneven and sometimes steep staircase toward Manufacturing 4.0. They are seeing that while they may not have all of the answers today, the right information is coming.

It is a matter of faith to bravely step into new ways of doing things. If they are to avoid threats to competitiveness, and perhaps even survival, manufacturing leaders must challenge themselves to move ahead even if they can’t see all that may be in front of them.  N

Penelope Brown

About the author:
Penelope Brown is the Content Director for the Manufacturing Leadership Council.

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