Machine Advisor

Leadership 4.0: smart skills for a smart industry

Author : Neil Lewin, Senior Consultant, Festo Training & Consulting

27 October 2017

It’s difficult to underestimate the impact that Industry 4.0 will have – not just on the manufacturing workforce but on the entire structure of how we make products and choose products for our personal use. Connectivity asked Neil Lewin, Senior Consultant, Festo Training & Consulting to look at how industry leaders need to respond to Industry 4.0 and how they should manage their organisations through this period of immense change.

Just as the first industrial revolution altered where and how people lived, so this fourth industrial revolution will see artificial intelligence transforming every aspect of our operations. 

Implementing Industry 4.0 and managing change

The good news is that change is not new to our sector. Manufacturing has been constantly evolving and developing to take advantage of, and promote the use of, new technology. 

However, employers do have to recognise that however good our people are at adapting, there will always be fear and resistance to change – especially when it will impact their own job roles and futures. Whether it is small projects to bring in automation and connectivity or large scale use of intelligent and connected automotive machinery, employers need to help prepare their people for Industry 4.0 and to plan how they will integrate Industry 4.0 into their operations. 

In terms of planning for Industry 4.0 there are two main approaches - bottom up or top down. Most manufacturers will integrate Industry 4.0 into their existing production environments. Only a few organisations have a greenfield site where they can design a fully connected environment from scratch. 

Leadership 4.0

As technology gets placed into an organisation, leaders will have to adapt their own approaches. As the pace of change gets faster, leaders must be creative, flexible and operate swiftly. 

We see five main factors that will dictate how leaders need to respond to Industry 4.0 and how they should manage their organisations through this period of immense change. 

1. Competition

The first is competition. Disruptive technology can enable young and innovative companies to gain market traction quickly. These younger, dynamic organisations are constantly emerging to challenge the authority of market leaders. 

Leaders will need to spot and react quickly to new competition on the environment. 

2. Hierarchy

Research has shown that hierarchy inhibits transformation. Successful organisations will be those that disperse leadership and managerial responsibilities throughout a network in the organisation. 

Leaders will need to free-up the decision-making process, while keeping clear communication flowing.

3. Technology

The technology of Industry 4.0 will allow machines to interact with their environment. They will plan and adapt their own behaviour and learn new patterns and strategies to be self-optimising. 

Roles within organisations will change. Manufacturers will need talented individuals who understand how to explore, harness and maximise these new technological advancements.

4. Hyper connectivity

We’re used to being constantly connected and just as we’ve had to learn new languages and channels of communication, so we’ll need to do this for Industry 4.0. Communication between computers will use internet based protocols and an Industry 4.0 factory will need people conversant in this language. 

5. Transparency

Facing a new and difficult future is a challenging prospect. Managing change of this nature requires communication at a whole new level because people will be fearful of what the future holds. For leaders, this means containing their anxiety and keeping the focus on achieving the organisation’s objectives. 

Just as we have Industry 4.0, we have Leadership 4.0. This places open and honest communication at its heart – even when we don’t have all the answers. 

Job roles in Industry 4.0

All through history job roles have disappeared and new jobs have been created. It’s quite possible that the jobs our children will work in have not yet been dreamt up. This makes career advising quite a difficult prospect. We’ve seen new job roles such as Adoption Manager, Innovation Engineer, Digital Transformation Manager and Head of Global Trends and Futuring being advertised. Other job roles such as Robot Coordinator and Industrial Data Scientists are deemed to be potentially popular job titles for this brave new world. 

Training for Industry 4.0

Training for Industry 4.0 is important in two areas. Of course, there is the technological training – understanding the technology and knowing how to extract the greatest efficiency and best performance from your investment. 

The other aspect – and often the part that is forgotten – is equipping your managers with the skills to help their people transition to Industry 4.0. 

While senior leaders instigate the strategic direction for change, it is common for managers and their teams to implement change. This puts enormous pressure on managers; many of who feel ill equipped or supported to handle major change projects. In research Festo conducted, 9 out of 10 managers believed they didn’t have the skills to manage change. 

Key areas of development are helping managers to:

• take a step back and dispassionately analyse a situation. 

• reflect and look at their own behaviour and see how this can contribute to tensions in a team. 

• have courageous conversations with their team. 34 percent of managers suffer from stress and anxiety because of a conflict with someone they manage. 

• develop a coaching culture. It requires particular skills to handle and change the behaviour and attitude of employees. 

• follow-up an agreed course of action. If a manager demonstrates that they are willing to work together with an employee, trust and respect will follow. 

What help is available for Industry 4.0

Festo Training & Consulting runs workshops on how to implement Industry 4.0. Designed for upper management, decision makers and executives, this 2-day workshop helps leaders assess new business models and specific strategies to implement Industry 4.0. 

Festo also runs open workshops on all aspects of management from Coaching Fundamentals to Don’t Just Feed Me Chicken!

To find out more visit

Bespoke courses and in-company courses are available. 

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