Srinivas Rao K
There is a good buzz in the Indian Manufacturing Industry now about Digitalization and Industry 4.0. Every Managing Director would like to tell his/her colleagues at the Club about how they are implementing Digitalization in a big way and trying to implement Industry 4.0 and so on.
I hear many Functional Managers also trying their hand at collecting more data from machines. They are not very clear what exactly they want to do with that data. But, they have started a Project anyway.
This same companies are having modern Machine Tools that already collect a lot of data as a routine. Most of this data is not being used at all.
The other day I heard about a Machine Shop Manager who is collecting data about vibration on the tool holder on the Machine tool and trying to decide when to change the Tool. This is a smart local application. This Will definitely help the Manager to avoid Quality losses due to blunt tools running for more than their life.
But, these smart local applications are very few.
Irrespective of what they already have, Managers and Managing Directors across the Industry are in mad rush to get a tag of ‘We are implementing Industry 4.0’.
I see following problems in many of these companies rushing to ‘try Industry 4.0’.
01. Many Indian Manufacturing Companies have not yet implemented the Basic Lean Practices in their Shop floors.
02. The Pull principle is not being used. There are many companies that are still having Batch Production on their shop floor.
03. The Layouts are still archaic that necessitate unnecessary movement of material.
04. I have seen companies allowing excess Production as they do not want their workmen to be idle!!
05. There is no focus on the Skills of the Workmen. With the attrition problem on the Shop floor, this is a serious problem for the industry.
06. I know many companies that have not solved some perennial Supply issues and resultantly produce according to what material is available and not what Customer wants!
07. Wherever the Companies have installed Automated Machines and invested in to Technology, I have seen that the Company is having more problems with the Higher Technology machines. The Quality losses are higher in these machines, they breakdown more and over a period of time many of the wonderful features of these machines are by passed and it is used worse than its’ less Automated cousin that is co-existing.
This is not a complete list of problems. I am not saying there are no Companies that are not using Technology and Lean Principles. But, this is a very small percentage.
I see three issues from this situation:
a) Understanding Lean approach: Majority of Indian Companies have still not understood and leveraged the Lean Principles.
b) People element:We have not understood how to address the ‘People’ element when we bring in higher Technology. We need to help the person involved to ‘Work differently’.
c) Short term approach: We are still looking at this year results and many of us are worried about this Quarter performance and this Month’s performance. We continue to remain ‘Short Termish’!
While this is the status, there are some companies that are waking up as the Market Competition is increasing and they can’t simply tolerate the HUGE inefficiencies on the shop floor.
Every Company has to wake up!! If they are not woken up by the ‘Indian Competition’ then they will be woken up by the ‘International Competition’.
The Other Side
While this is the status of majority of the Companies trying to implement Industry 4.0, the Companies offering ‘Industry 4.0 solutions’ are also in the same Boat! While there are some International Companies like Siemens and a few of Local Companies that have understood how to use Industry 4.0 elements to take their clients to the next level, majority of the Companies offering the ‘Expert services of Industry 4.0’ do not know what they are talking about!
I have personal experience of talking to a few of these experts who have fancy websites calling out the World to implement Industry 4.0 with their help. Most of these Companies have not done anything in this area. Most of them do not know anything about Lean!
So, we have a very dangerous combination of Companies who are not ready for Industry 4.0 but want to implement it anyway! On the other side we have a big contingent of Companies who do not know anything about Manufacturing offering Industry 4.0 solutions. A lot of money is getting wasted around!!
How can we go forward?
It does not matter what the current status of the Manufacturing Company is, if they have understood the need to improve their efficiencies and the power of Lean then we can progress.
I would suggest that these companies take up a Re-Engineering of their Manufacturing that would involve the following:
- Put Three Year Targets like:
o Tripling People Productivity (Blue and White Collar Please)
o Cutting Quality Losses by 75%.
o Cutting Manufacturing Costs by 50%
o Solving 100% of Customer related problems permanently
You can formulate a few more Goals that are relevant to your company.
- Only a BIG target will wake up your Company and your team! You will achieve it!
- Formulate a Full Time Task force which can be filled with Young Engineers straight from College. Bring in technical experts as needed. But, having a positive mindset is more important than the Technology.
- There should be representation from every Function in this Task force.
- Educate their Employees on Lean Principles starting with the Top.
- Recast their Value Stream Map on the basis of Lean principles.
- Resolve the perennial problems like Material Shortages, Bad Sub-Contractors who do not deliver on time and so on, Perennial Quality Problems that have become as permanent in the company as the owner himself/herself!
- Formulate several Projects that should be championed by the Task force with help from the regular Teams.
- On the way at the right time, we should start educating the employees on Industry 4.0 and the Technology that is available.
- Visiting International companies to understand the Lean principles in action or Industry 4.0 in action is a very good idea.
- Implement Industry 4.0 elements as needed to achieve the Three year Goals. Finance Head should ensure that there is no Project that is being done just for the fancy of it. Every Project should pay back handsomely.
When you are achieving some BIG targets in 3 years, that will allow you to spend a good amount of money to achieve it. The problem of how to finance the Industry 4.0 Projects will be addressed.
So, you can turn your weakness of ‘Low Efficiency’ and ‘Not having implemented Lean’ in to something more positive as it would help you to spend good amount of money as you will get the payback relatively easier.
So, when will you start off?
Improve your Profits significantly and become a genuine implementer of Lean and Industry 4.0!!
Organizations suffer in a big way due to the lack of Knowledge and Skills on the part of employees. Very often this suffering is silent, and it is accepted as ‘Normal’. This leads to Companies accepting low skill / low Capability and try to have more people to do the same work. That is a poor alternative and Company suffers more due to higher number of Low skilled employees.
Let us discuss a few examples.
01. Anish joined as Production Manager in the Capital Equipment manufacturing company. He has 15 Years of experience. But he was never involved in Lean Implementation environment. Resultantly he simply does not know where to start in terms of implementation of Lean. The Company seem to throw more and more people at the rising Production. Company seem to lose more as it produces more!! The Company has at least 50% people more than it requires. This is applicable to Blue Collar and White Collar alike.
If Ashish can be taught and certified for his Lean Manufacturing skills, the Company can improve its’ Profitability by at least 3%.
02. Ketan is the Procurement Manager in a Compressor Manufacturing Company. He is not familiar with the Global Sourcing Practices and Cost Reduction. The company is expecting a at least 5% of Procurement value as Cost Reduction from his efforts.
If Ketan can be helped now, the Company can get ahead of its’ competition in the market and capture more market in Local and Global Market.
03. Varsha is the Quality Manager of Automotive ancillary company. She has to deal with Internal and External Quality issues and improve the Quality of Company’s Processes and Products very quickly. The Company’s Customers have given an ultimatum that if the Quality does not improve significantly, they will start looking for alternative suppliers in 9 months’ time.
If Varsha can be helped right now, her company may avoid losing a Big Customer and their Business !
04. Exwhyzed Pvt Ltd is a Electronics Manufacturing Company. It’s Business is growing and it has a lot of problem in retaining the employees. It recruits employees under NEEM , Company Trainee, Government apprentice categories. But, it loses at least 40 employees every month and 40 new employees come in. The losses in terms of Quantity (speed) and Quality are huge.
If Exwhyzed can be helped with Learning solutions, it can improve its’ turnover by at least 20% this year.
There can be many more such situations in Companies that are almost getting accepted as ‘Normal’ and companies are simply not putting up a fight in tackling such situations and trying to skill up their teams.
India is at a very low place on the People Productivity Scale among Manufacturing Nations of the World. We don’t belong there! We are capable of much more!!
Many Indian Companies are trying to implement Industry 4.0 elements. But, you can’t use these modern tools unless you have the Basics such as Lean Manufacturing Practices and Basic Productivity.
Change the Learning Paradigm
Now, Indian Companies need to believe that it is possible to do much more in the area of People Productivity. They have to rise their Targets / expectations in every area.
Bring in a Learning Partner: A Learning Partner from outside can help a Company to rethink its’ strategy in the area of Learning.
A Learning Partner is someone who would have Skills in the area of Manufacturing and Modern Learning solutions.
A Learning Partner can do the following:
a) Evaluate the areas where the Company is currently losing and where it can earn more if the employees are given timely help.
b) Skill up the employees. Here, a Learning Partner may help the Company with Blended Learning. Theory and Practice.
c) Look for specific results in terms of Specific measurable Business Improvement agenda.
d) Keep improving the Learning agenda of the Organization to Proactive from the above Reactive methods.
Today, we have modern tools that can help make the Learning @ the Point of Need and as required by Business exigencies possible. They can generate more results when paired with Traditional Training methods.
Establish the Learning Architecture
As explained in my earlier article, a Company needs to establish some Learning Architecture in the Company.
Important among them is making ‘Learning’ as the Centre of the Organization and the way Business is done in the company!
- It should mandate a ‘Weekly Learning time’ of at least 2 hours per employee.
- Learning should help Employee to deliver a specific result in the next three months.
- Company should adapt Modern Learning methods such as Video based learning / E-Learning / usage of LMS.
- It should reward the employees on the basis of Learning and their resultant Skills.
This is the only way Indian Companies can improve their Profitability and stay relevant in the Competitive International environment!
A Company that focuses on Learning and improve its’ efficiency can graduate to using the Modern Technology in terms of Industry 4.0.
Without Basic Skills of employees going up and without Basic efficiency not being there in the Company, thinking about usage of Industry 4.0 can only remain as a Dream!!
How are Basic Skills of Employees in your Company? Get them Certified by Experts!
Traditionally in Organizations, the Learning Architecture for the employees is not defined well and the only way to help employees learn is sending them to a few Training programs. Even this (sending employees to training) is done only by about 10-15% of Companies that I have come in touch with. Regretfully even now most of the Indian Companies do not look at Developing employees in a systematic manner.
When we studied in Colleges, Schools we would have been put through the paces of Learning in a systematic manner. There was a syllabus and there was a clear target of passing the Course and probably scoring well for the intellectual types among us. But, now in the Organizations, the Learning Objectives are not clearly defined, and the Learning paths are also not defined.
Resultantly, In the case of at least 90% of the Employees the Learning habit has died down. There is no hunger for learning. Employees are just expected to deliver results. The Owners / Bosses are not seriously focused on skilling up the employees and taking more from them. This is not a smart strategy. The result of this strategy is that you keep adding more people to get the work done. I would say that in Indian Companies the Productivity of White Collar and Blue Collar can be multiplied at least from 2 to 4 times if they pay attention to having Skilled employees.
For Organizations to encourage learning and to ensure their employees are continuously learning and delivering more, they need to build a Learning Architecture in their Company. This Learning Architecture is not a ‘Ready solution’ that can be transported to a company and delivered. This is something that has to be evolved.
I have been a Learner in the Manufacturing Industry for more than 3 decades now. I have gone through a lot of Learning in my career. From being an Accountant to managing Technical functions, Business responsibilities. I have been helping Organizations to develop their employees as a Boss and now as a Coach / Trainer. I have learnt a lot about helping Employees to learn in the last 6 years. There have been some resoundingly successful cases and there have been some ‘dud cases’ where I could not deliver. But, the Successful cases have been many. As I learnt the best way to help people to ‘Learn’, I am starting to see an ‘architecture for learning’ developing in my mind and practice.
Let me try sharing this with all of you.
Elements of a ‘Good Learning Architecture’
For an Organization to have Good Learning Architecture, a few elements are needed. This by no means a complete list. I am listing what I have experienced. Do not hesitate to add more by means of Comments.
01. Inclination at the Top: The Top management of the Company should believe that Learning is a foundational process for a Company to be successful over a longer term. They need to believe that ensuring your employees learn continuously is a SMART strategy for a Business.
02. Gentle push to the employees and leaders: An Organization needs to create a gentle push to the employees and Leaders to prioritize Learning. You can do it nicely by motivating the teams to Learn with some promotional measures like Learning Points that will entail you to get more increments. You can also have some hard measures that may make getting Certified for Skills mandatory for employees.
03. Skill Definition: Companies need to have a Leadership Model that prescribes the Leadership Capabilities that the employees need to have at different levels. Companies also need to define the Functional Skills defined for all levels in the organizations. This is fundamental to start learning. This definition is not set in stone. It has to keep evolving as the Organization evolves.
04. Learning Process: The Learning Process of the Employees need to have a few elements:
a. Foundational Learning: Employees need to get some Conceptual inputs for all the skills preferably in a face to face environment. Testing the absorption is important.
b. Reinforcement Learning: Once the Foundation is there, the employees need to Learn contextually and at the point of need using Micro Learning concept. E-Learning modules are a good tool for this purpose. This should be an LMS based learning.
Eg. Once a Team of employees have learnt ‘Assertiveness’ as a skill , they should be asked to log their experiences and they can also be given Micro learning modules on specific topics within Assertiveness as a topic.
c. Application of Learning: Employees should be encouraged to formulate Micro Business Processes that applies the learning in to the Business Process and enriches the Business process.
Eg. A Team of Employees who have gone through a course of ‘Business Communication’ can be encouraged to formulate ‘Guidelines for Business Communication’ for their Company. These guidelines should become a
deeper definition of their Business Process and the Skills that are needed in their company.
Usually the application is measured in terms of a Project that is taken up by employees. But, this may not be sufficient. We need to get more granular about application of learning.
d. Point of need / Contextual Learning: You need to identify the Training needs of your team for each Quarter on the basis of the Targets that they have to achieve. You need to provide the Micro Learning modules to the employees as needed.
05. Coaching of Senior employees: The Senior Employees need to be Coached on a continuous basis. It is good to get external Business Leaders to coach your Senior team. This way you approach it ‘Outside in’. You can then encourage your senior team to Coach the next level.
In the next article, we will explore one or two specific examples of how an Organization can enable the Learning on the go.
John reached the office at 8 am itself. John is the ‘Manager – Marketing’ in the Automotive ancillary company. Normally he comes to office at 8.45 am as the office time is 9 am. But, he is very enthu about coming to office on every Monday as he has his Learning hour today. He can access the Learning programs from his home. But, he loves to sit at his desk and complete the Learning for the week undisturbed. His son has grown up. But, still there is some time to go to School. While at home, John loves to play with his son. He was worried his son will disturb him at his ‘most favorite work’.
John logged on to the ‘Learning Management System’ of the ‘Training and Certification Partner’ (whom the company of John appointed a few months back to manage all the learning of the employees). There were Two Micro Learning modules waiting for John. John also took out the Work book that reached him the Friday evening. The ‘Work book’ helps him to write down a few learnings and also do a few exercises.
John started going thru the E-Learning video about ‘Dos and Don’ts while designing the Social media promotion’. These are John’s company’s own Check list of what can be done and what cannot be done while designing the Social media campaigns. This week John has meeting with his vendor for Social media campaign. John is working out the agenda with them so that the Vendor company can go on for the Quarter.
John also has another Learning module about ‘Preparing Marketing Plan using 7Ps of Marketing’. This is slightly longer module. It goes on for 20 minutes. John has to initiate his team to prepare the Marketing plan for the next year. This is a refresher course for John. This module teaches John about ‘Their company’s way of preparing Market plan’. John goes thru this module every year before he starts the Market plan work. It helps him to refresh his knowledge about Market plan preparation. It helps him to guide his team very well.
John could see on his home screen of LMS that he has a few more modules coming up for the next week and the week after. Each week he has to spend about an hour on learning. This practice has started in his company three months back. The E-Learning videos given by the ‘Training and Certification Partner’ are quite interesting to go thru. They always build a situation around the learning and render the learning thru an animated video. It is quite fun to go thru the video and learn the concept.
At the same time, the Production Manager of the Company, Vijay was passing through Marketing department. He saw John and stopped for a chat. ‘Hey John I see that you are starting the week with your Learning agenda for the week. Great way to start the week’. John agreed with him ‘Yes Vijay this is my most favorite part of the week’. This month I am expecting to complete my Learning agenda for the Quarter and I will get a Certificate from our ‘Training and Certification Partner’’.
Vijay was happy to hear that ‘Yes John, that is great. I have completed two Micro Modules at home yesterday Sunday. It took me an hour to complete both of them and take the test too. Now I can peacefully attend to the Customer visit today’.
Vijay also has a Weekly learning agenda for himself. He can remember how they had some problem in getting used to this ‘Weekly Learning Agenda’ introduced by the ‘Training and Certification Partner’ along with the HR & Operations Head. But, those initial troubles settled down in the first month itself. The Learning was made fun and everyone waited to go thru the Learning modules.
Learning @ the Speed of Business
Exwhyzed Limited, the company of John and Vijay adapted modern learning methods using technology 3 months back. They outsourced the whole Learning agenda in the Company to an outside Partner who are experts in Manufacturing and Learning Methods. This company consists of Manufacturing Professionals who are good at Learning methods. They understand all Business aspects unlike many IT companies who are only ‘techies’.
The new way of learning meant the following to the Company:
- The Training and Certification Company identified the Skills that are needed for every employee. This constituted Functional and Behavioral skills.
- On the basis of the Business agenda for the Year / Quarter / Month, they identified the Learning priorities of the Company’s employees in different functions for the year.
- These Learning Priorities were something that would help employees immediately in handling their Business agenda. They learn and they use the skills immediately.
- The Partner company developed Interesting E-Learning Videos on the specific topics.
- Wherever some very BIG topics are there like Lean Manufacturing, there was some face to face training was there too at the beginning of the year.
- The Partner company set up a ‘Learning Centre’ for the company that had physical facilities for training as well as a few Work stations for company’s employees to take E-Learning Lessons. Whoever wanted to use this facility could come to the Learning Centre. It is like ‘Library’ in the Company. Silent and inviting.
- The Partner company interacts with the HODs and HR every month to understand the Learning agenda for each employee in the Company. Then they populate those Videos in the Learning Management System. They give access to the employees as needed.
- The Partner company’s employees follow up with employees who are lagging on completing the Learning modules and motivate them to complete the courses. There are hardly any laggards as the Learning has become priority for everyone.
- HR has already announced that ‘Skills Certification’ will be mandatory from the next Quarter for every employee.
- The employees can access the Learning modules from their Smart phones too. This made it convenient for the employees to complete their weekly learning agenda. Usually the Weekly Learning agenda does not cross about an Hour.
- The Partner company along with Operations Head monitor the Target achievement of the employees on a monthly basis. The Learning agenda of employees is Fine-tuned on the basis of their performance.
This methodology started working very well in the last three months. This way each employee would Learn for 6-8 days in every year. This is quite healthy to start with. The best thing is, this learning is directly linked to the Results that the employees are producing.
Revolution in the Learning methods
The above scenario may very well exist in many Companies World Wide in next few years.
Today the technology that is available to all of us enables us to do this. The Learning has to become ‘Contextual’ and it has to be given at the ‘Point of need’. This would make the Learning very effective.
The Learning Modules that the company develops would be a one time investment. But, they would be available to the company forever. I suggest an external Partner as this would be a very big change that a company would be implementing, and a Partner initially can help in a big way.
Even today, when an employee is forced to learn about something because he does not know that topic, he takes to ‘Google’. He will try to learn that topic by hook or crook. So, the willingness to learn is there.
Unfortunately, there are somethings that he can not learn from Google. These are typically Company specific Product knowledge, Process knowledge etc.
We only have to create our own resource bank for the employee. Employees are willing to learn on the go using their smart phones or tablets and so on.
This is a very important aspect of Digitalization that a company has to go thru. If you are able to activate your employees and make them more effective at work, the results can surprise you!!
When are you starting off?
In many companies, the cost of White-Collar Staff is very significant. By international standards, the number of staff that Indian Companies hire is significantly high. The Productivity of the Staff in a company seems to be very low. We seem to be throwing ‘Warm Bodies’ at work and problems! More Problems, more ‘Warm Bodies’..
The Indian Companies have been waking up to the higher costs of employees in the past Decade or so. The profits are under pressure. Top line is not growing as aggressively as one may want.
In this situation too, many companies have been addressing the Blue-Collar cost. Companies have been trying to hire cheaper and cheaper labor. I know many companies who try to run the whole Manufacturing Plant with temporary and low-cost labor. Genuine attempts to improve Productivity have not been many. Indian Companies have a long way to go in improving the Blue Collar Productivity.
By Comparison, the White Collar Productivity had been an unexplored area for most of the Companies.
No Standards for work!!
Most of the Companies do not have a Standard for the work of the White Collar Employees. What is the work each Position should be doing and what is the Standard time and effort that each of the work is supposed to take?
Resultantly there is no measure for the work of the White-Collar Employees. When something is not getting done, more employees are recruited. Sometimes having more people will result in more confusion and more inefficiency.
The other side of this continuum is that some companies simply refuse to recruit White Collar Employees or fire who is there. Even this act will not have any rationale. Usually it is the ‘feel’ of the Boss who may just ‘feel’ there are too many people and they are ‘wasting’ their time!
Direct and Indirect Cost of White-Collar Employees and their work
The White-Collar employees are tasked in every company with very important tasks. They decide what Raw Materials have to be purchased, at what cost, how much inventory to keep, what price to sell a product, how to market the products and many other crucial decisions.
So, the money that the Companies spend on the Salaries of the White-Collar employees is only a small proportion of the Total cost. The Cost that this group of Employees can inflict on a Company is huge. They and the work that they do can either make or break the Profits of a Company.
Hence, this category of employees deserve a much higher Quality attention! It is not enough to just focus on Blue collar and drive their productivity !
What needs to be addressed?
Companies need to consider addressing two elements of this category of employees.
01. The numbers in this category. How many people you have and how you can optimize this number? This ensures you spend as little as possible on this category of costly employees. This addresses the Direct cost of White-collar employees.
02. The Quality of the work and decisions of this category of employees. Companies need to pay attention to this as they can inflict a very high cost on the company due to the quality of the decisions that they may take.
Let us address these issues in two or three articles.
Addressing the Direct Cost of the White-Collar Employees
This again can be addressed at two levels. You can improve the Productivity of White-collar Employees in two phases.
a) Multiply the Productivity by applying the Lean Principles.
b) Go to a new level of Productivity and way of working by adapting Technology tools that are available today.
Multiply the Productivity using Lean Principles
I would suggest a methodology to address this area.
While many companies may have KPIs for their Employees and may be some of them are using them well, the Productivity at Task level may still be suffering.
Have a Target: When you start improving the White-Collar Productivity, it is important to have a CLEAR target. I would suggest the target as ‘Avoid recruitment for next one/two years’. Do not start with a target of ‘Cutting 25% of Staff’. This would be like cutting the foot to fit the shoe. While this is so basic and everyone should be knowing, I see many companies just firing Staff to reduce costs!! A Good team is what the Management should be looking to build. They would reduce costs and improve profits!
Log your time: Encourage the employees to log their time and find out what are they actually spending their time on. You can give them Log sheets and ask them to capture what they are doing and to what KPI is it really related to. This effort may give you a long list of activities. Pick the Pareto items for improvement. You need to do this for each Position in the company.
Time Study: Study the specific Tasks on which you are spending significant part of your time. By capturing the micro details of the Task, you can examine the various losses that you have in doing that particular task. Usually you would have very BIG losses.
Identify Kaizens: Identify the improvements that you can do to reduce the time that the task takes. The improvements may involve changing the Work flows, changing the authorizations, improving the ERP features and many other activities.
Carry out the Kaizens: Here, the company has to move with some great purpose. One should not be stuck with some Kaizens that are difficult to implement. It may involve modifying your ERP and modifying your methods. Good amount of ‘Change Management’ is needed here.
Multiply the Productivity
One should aim at improving Productivity by 2-3 times with this methodology. A lesser target will not justify the effort and possibilities that are there in every organization.
Wherever IMA handled this type of Project, the improvement in Productivity was at least twice.
What is critical: Try out in one model area. Take the help of outsiders in this project. An outsider can bring a fresh perspective for this work. But, you should develop an internal team that would focus on Productivity of People forever.
Next Article: We will examine how an Organization can transit in to a New Way of working at the next level of improvement.
In my interactions with about 100+ Companies as part of my Consultancy and Job experience, I have seen many problems related to Lack of Knowledge on the part of Employees in companies. Every company struggles with this problem. Some have identified that this is the problem. Some struggle the consequences without understanding the Root cause. Let us examine a few of them.
Customer facing teams not having the knowledge of Product and Company: Today, we are all losing the people in Sales, Service and Marketing teams quite often. New people keep coming in almost every month! But, my observation is that Companies do not have any tool for teaching these new people or some companies have very ineffective tools. Very few companies (may be 2%) have good systems for teaching them in a systematic manner. Result is that we have loose Cannons going to Customers and promising the sky, moon and the Galaxy whereas the company is here on earth! This is perhaps the most dangerous of all the problems related to knowledge.
R&D Teams working with low / no knowledge of product: The R&D teams also are losing many people every month in most of the companies. Again when the new people come, companies do not teach them about their product or they say they don’t have time to teach them !! Result is that the R&D Engineers are designing the products / parts without understanding the Big picture. This creates more iterations at the best and companies lose big opportunities for optimization of their new products at the worst.
Operators on the Shop floor manufacturing the product without knowing the process: I am sure all of you are suffering with the problem of losing Operators on the Shop floor every month in a big number. Still, very few companies have good teaching methods for the new operators. Some companies have Training schools. But, use very ineffective processes to teach them about the Manufacturing Processes. Result is that the Company loses a lot of People Productivity as new people do not produce at standard rate for quite some time. The Company also loses in a big way in Quality. I have seen many companies who are living with this problem for years without addressing it !! They not only lose money, they lose customer confidence and they lose Top Line !
Manufacturing Team not exposed to Lean: Most of the Indian Companies have Manufacturing Teams who are not conversant with Lean Principles. This problem is there at senior levels as well as junior levels. This results in companies working in a very inefficient way. They use resources at least 2X than what is required. Many companies feel very happy if they can meet 100% of the Customer Schedule. They are not focusing on working efficiently and saving some big money.
The same type of problems are there in Procurement where the teams do not have knowledge of Best Procurement practices, Engineering teams not conversant with Value Engineering principles, HR Teams not knowing about better Training practices, Stores teams not having knowledge of Kanban, Inventory Management.. the list can be long.
Indian Companies are working with lot of inefficiency! We can improve our Bottom line and Top line in a big way if only we can address this problem of Employee Knowledge in respective areas.
Today we have Technology Solutions
Today there is enough technology available for companies to leverage and develop Learning Solutions for the employees.
E-Learning: Using E-Learning, the Knowledge required can be taught to the employees in a systematic and uniform manner. The advantages of this technology are as follows:
a) Make the learning interesting.
b) Make it uniform for all employees.
c) Test the knowledge and certify the employees.
d) Repeat all this at no extra cost throughout the year and beyond.
Virtual Reality: Using 3D and VR, one can teach about Product and Technology. The 3D Videos can help you to give a unique experience to the employees to look at the Products In a Virtual manner, look at them from all angles and understand the small details very well. This technology can be applied using the VR Goggles. This technology can be used in Product technology and it can also be used to convey an Induction program that will take a remote employee right in to the Factory using 360 Degree Video. There can be many more applications to this technology. Augmented Reality is another related technology that is available in this area.
Gaming:Gaming has multiple approaches in Companies. Especially in Manufacturing. Using this, the knowledge can be conveyed in an innovative manner. Gaming can also be used to expose the Employees to different Business Problems in a fun or serious manner. Serious Gaming can be quite useful to companies to enhance Learning.
How can you apply these Technologies?
Develop Solutions: A Company needs to get the Learning Solutions developed as a one-time affair. This is going to take some time for companies to do it. All the Knowledge that is needed for a company may not be available in a documented manner. The Knowledge has to be documented and it has to be used along with the Technology to develop innovative solutions.
Proficiency Levels: The Proficiency levels have to be defined in a Company for Employees at various levels in each type of Knowledge. Product knowledge is needed for an R&D Engineer at the highest level. But, for a HR Executive this may be required at a much lower level.
Learning Management: The Courses to convey the knowledge have to be made available to the employees for learning and certification. This data base has to be maintained using a Learning Management System.
Learning Centers: Learning Centers can be developed with a combination of Physical work benches and E-Learning Videos that help the employees to learn the process theoretically and then apply it on the work bench. One can aim at bringing the new employees to the required Productivity and Quality in the Learning Centers before allowing them to the Shop floors.
Organizational push: While all this can be done, the Employees also have to take responsibility to learn. To ensure this, the Companies can think of making Learning and Certification of employees a mandatory affair. Unless the Employees are Certified, they may not be eligible for participating in the Annual Performance evaluation. This will ensure there is a Pull from Employees for the Learning and Certification.
A Company can revolutionize learning and get tangible results with this approach. I believe Companies should take help from outside to do this. I personally would prefer People with good application knowledge than those who are expert IT People. In this area what is required is the innovative application ability.
Are you ready to take your Learning to a new level ?
What is Critical: To understand the Technology and applying it in a Model area is important to realize the power of this approach.
India is a Power house to the world as far as Information Technology is concerned. Our IT industry is powering up a lot of efficiency across industries and around the world. But, the adaptation of Information Technology in Indian Manufacturing can be improved a lot.
Many companies are yet to take the full advantage of the ERP that they would have implemented a few decades back. Most of the features may be lying unutilized or bypassed.
In many companies, the Finance module continues to be the most utilized one. Very few companies use the Production / Sales & Marketing modules efficiently.
Whenever there are some proposals for a Software such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or a Planning Software are made, the support for such proposals is not very high in the companies.
The Management of many companies regard Software as a luxury as most of these are not getting implemented well. The results from these Software are not commensurate with the resources spent on it.
I cannot say this phenomenon is universal. There are some companies that are successful in using the Information Technology more successfully.
If we consider that the IT can be used at least in three ways:
Most of the Indian Companies are at the Bottom of the above Pyramid and some are just touching the second tier.
There are many reasons for this low adaptation of IT in the Indian Manufacturing. One of the important reasons is the low participation from the Functional teams. IT is considered as the agenda of only the IT Department and sometimes the agenda of the Head of the Company or Head of the Finance.
In most of the Companies the Head of the Finance is the Head of IT that tells us the story of adaptation of the IT in a company that restricts to Finance function.
Advent of Industry 4.0
We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is inclusive of Cyber Physical systems, Internet of things, Cloud computing and Cognitive thinking.
The various technologies that are available today can be leveraged to drive the efficiency in the Companies.
Companies are trying to monitor the Machines using Sensor technology and trying to make sense of various parameters of the Machine like Heat, Vibration etc and trying to predict Break downs. They are collecting plenty of data and trying to analyse the data.
Companies are trying to monitor the condition of their Machines / Products remotely using the Internet to help Customers get best performance from their Machines/Products.
Companies can now monitor the vibration of the Tool holder in a Machine tool to decide when to change the Cutter.
Companies have many options now to monitor the performance of the employees and help them conduct the routine in the Companies in a regular manner. The Mobile technology can help them in this.
Companies can use the E-Learning concept to train their employees in a systematic manner.
There are several opportunities for companies to use the existing elements of the Technology in a manner that is unique to them and get a competitive advantage.
We can see basic interest in various companies. Many companies are trying out some elements or the other.
But, the knowledge of the Engineers and their participation is still very low.
Approach it differently!
To take full advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is not enough if your I.T department is active. The whole company has to be actively seeking to use the various elements of the Industry 4.0.
You need to train the Manufacturing Engineers in the modern technology. Without this, the I.T department will struggle to implement the new technology and the result will not be any different from your experience with ERP!!
IT Aptitude: While everyone can not have the aptitude for I.T, there will be some people in your teams who may be having this aptitude in ample measure.
I have experienced this in my career. When we picked up a few people in Manufacturing and other functions, trained them in IT and encouraged them to develop applications, they made a big difference to the company.
Find your team: Identify those bright sparks that can make a difference for your company. You need to understand this and build your conviction of using Manufacturing Engineers for I.T Projects.
Big Goals: To ensure your team puts in their best effort, you need to challenge them with BIG GOALS. Ensure these Goals will help your Company to go to a next level in your chosen field. Eg. If you want to reduce the losses in the Shop floor, aim at ‘Zero’ losses in a limited area. Do not take up a small Goal. You would not be challenging your team to go to the next level with the help of the Technology.
Train them: Expose the team to various Industry 4.0 practices. Theory and Practice. It would be good for your teams to visit the companies / universities worldwide that have progressed in the technology that you are interested in.
Full time team: Establish a Task force that will work full time to make progress in to your Goals. A part time effort will not be enough in this area.
Top Management Support and Focus: The Top Management’s unwavering support is needed for this team to deliver.
Every Company needs to adapt the Technology as their medium term focus. It has to be the BIG enabler in the next three years!
So, what are you going to achieve in your Business in next Three years by leveraging Industry 4.0 .?
Today, India is becoming more and more prominent on the world stage. Whether it is the Business arena or Political arena or Health, Art & Culture, the world is looking at India with higher expectations. Indian Leaders are playing a prominent role on the World Stage. Whether it is the Sundar Pichaiah (Google), Sathya Nadella (Microsoft), Shantanu Narayen (Adobe) or Dr.Soumya Swamnithan (WHO), many more Indians are in prominent roles world wide. Indian Businesses are going out to the World. Acquisitions by Indian Companies are increasing.
Indian Leaders to prepare themselves !
There are several Leadership Models that are available in the world including several with the Corporates. Many of these models are having ‘Self-Management’ as one element of the Leadership. But, they are all predominantly ‘outgoing’. They talk about what the Leader has to do out in the world. In Sanskrit these are called ‘Paraak’ (Outgoing). But, for a Leader to be effective, he has to be a master of his ‘self’. He has to undertake a journey in to his ‘self’. This is called ‘Pratyak’ (Inward).
India is having more than 5000 years of History in this Science as recorded in the Vedanta and Upanishads. This is the Science of ‘Self’. While I have read some of the Upanishads as explained by Swami Ranganathananda ji (EX-President of Ramakrishna Mutt), I am not an expert on this subject by any yard stick.
But, I strongly feel we as Indians can adapt a Leadership Model that is focused on ‘Self’. Whatever the Leader may want to get done in the outside world, whoever he may be dreaming of influencing, he has to start with himself. He has to manage his ‘self’ and develop his ‘self’ to inspire others.
A well evolved Leader can project a New and Dynamic world around him/her.
The Indian philosophy of Leadership is that you have all that takes to become a fantastic leader in your ‘self’. It is already there. You have to only unlearn your old habits and take off the dust on the ‘mirror’. Once you take the ‘dust’ (old habits), your ‘self’ will shine through.
On the basis of this philosophy:
We can adapt a Leadership model that centers around ‘Wellness of the Leader’ through maximizing the Four Energies that all of us have and Inspiring a Wonderful Change all around us.
If a Leader can Manage and Maximize his four Energies and use them well, he can have a wonderful effect on the world around him. He / She will be able to inspire the people around them and help them achieve something Superlative.
Physical Energy: A Leader has to manage his Physical energy very well. My observation is that only a small proportion of the Leaders who are actively managing high responsibilities take care of their Physical energies. A Leader may maximize his/her Physical energy by Physical exercises / Walking / Zumba/ Yoga or any other means. Those of you who regularly exercise will agree with me that a good Work out actually lifts your energy and not consume it.
Emotional Energy: A Leader has to manage his/her emotions and maximize Positive emotional energy and minimize Negative Emotional Energy. You would have noticed that Positive Emotions would propel you to do more than what you would have thought possible and Negative Emotions would kill your day on an otherwise wonderful day at office. A Leader can use the energy from the Positive Emotions while avoid becoming an Emotional Person.
Mental Energy: A Mind that is focused can work like a Laser beam. Today, we have several threats to our Focus in the shape of several Electronic Instruments around us. ‘Multitasking’ is becoming the order of the day. Multitasking simply does not work. You cannot be efficient while handling several things at a time. You would have experienced a wonderful efficiency when you simply shut out everything and focused on one task. You would have also experienced a situation where you were trying to do several things and not able to do anything properly.
Spiritual Energy: This perhaps is the most powerful energy that all of us have. But, many of us would not have tapped in to it as yet. This is the energy that we can access when we keep a higher goal for ourselves that is beyond our selfish interests. One of my friend participated in helping the Chennai Flood victims a few years back. He worked for 20 days every day about 16-18 hours travelling all around Chennai. He says he was totally drained of his physical energy. But, was able to carry on as he felt he is doing something wonderful to the fellow human beings. After this experience, he has become a Believer in working for something higher ! Now, he has a higher goal in his life to help people around him while he is working and earning for his family which is a basic need.
If a Leader is having a higher goal of doing something beyond his selfish requirements, he will tap in to this energy. He will do a larger good and he will also achieve his/her own personal goals too.
An Entrepreneur may have the goal of achieving Rs 1000 Crores , he may also redefine the goal as ‘Giving employment to 2000 employees’. If he redefines it as the second one, he may go beyond his own selfish requirements. By defining it in the second way, he need not sacrifice his first goal.
You would have noticed that Big companies like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Tata Steel have their Goal that look beyond themselves. The Social Goal becomes the bigger goal. Their own Financial goals become a sub set of the larger goal.
How to Develop ourselves as per this model?
India has the resources to help us develop ourselves as per this Leadership Model. We have several Spiritual Leaders who are propagating these methods. These are Yoga, Meditation and several other tools. I am not sitting in judgement of how good the Spiritual Leaders are individually. But, the methodology that all of them are using is something that can work for us. Take what is good from them.
As I know, this Leadership Model and this methodology to develop ourselves has nothing to do with any Religion. It has got everything to do with Human Beings. As such all Human Beings can use it!
What is Critical: One needs to learn about the ‘Indian methods’ that are available in India. We need to explore more in to the concepts to decide how it can help us!!
For those of you who have been on your own for some time, I do not have to convince you about the fact that your Energy levels may be much higher when you are on your own as compared to the time when you worked in a Job. This is not to blame the job or Boss or anyone else. This is just a fact.
One can realise the highest level of Energy if you are not just chasing higher money and you are chasing your dream in terms of the higher achievement in your life / Career. When you are on your own, there is no difference between your life and your career.
I have been on my own for the past 6 years and more. I could clarify to myself that the higher goal for my life is to ‘Help others to grow’. I need to earn money to take care of basics for life. But, my philosophy is to ‘Help others to grow’. So, I am not looking for money in everything. I am able to enjoy my work more when I free myself from this necessity to ‘look for money in everything’. If you are progressing towards your higher goal, then your lower goals would be met. Have no doubt!
What are the Energy Blockers in Job?
There are certain Energy Blockers when you are in Job. These Energy Blockers may not be there in equal proportions in all companies. There may be some companies who may be able to enable the energies of the Stake holders to flow freely and achieve higher goals. These companies typically have their Mission also in the higher terms. For example, the Mission of Mitsubishi is to ‘Move the World Forward’ with its’ prime movers Engines / Motors and so on. The mission of Toyota is to ‘Further the Mobility on the Planet’.
Tata Steel’s tag line is ‘We also make tomorrow’ highlighting their intention to contribute to the tomorrow of everyone. I remember a few years back Tata Steel used to talk about ‘We also make Steel’ to highlight the fact that they are ready to contribute to much more than just Steel.
These companies do not look at furthering their own agenda and ignore the people involved. If the companies are guided only by the Annual / Quarterly results, then these companies will not be good places to work. The companies that I spoke about earlier do take care of the Annual / Quarterly results by not being obsessed by it.
Let us look at couple of Energy Blockersthat may be there in a Job:
01. You may not be doing the work that you like: A higher percentage of today’s youngsters are trying to do what they like and are trying not to get in to whatever is available. But, still majority of the Job seekers at all ages are just getting in to whatever is available. So, you may not be doing what you really like. But, you need to reflect whether you know ‘What you really like’. My observation is that many of us need to ‘unearth’ our Passion. It may not be very apparent. Whatever you may think is your ‘Passion’ may not live long. Try ‘unearthing’ what your Passion is..You need to really reflect to do this.
02. Your Organization and you may not be aligning: You may think you like what you are doing. Infact, some people may think they are ‘really enjoying’ what they are doing. One agenda is to ‘unearth’ what your real passion is. But, your Energy may not be flowing fully as it is very difficult for everything in your organization to align with your thinking. You may not agree on the Ends or Means to achieve the Ends.There can be several reasons for the non-alignment.
What are the Perks of being on your own?
01. You can create your story: When you are on your own, you can be the creator of your Story. You can plan your Career / Business and ensure progress on it. This is the most obvious perk that you can have.
02. You can build up your Story as you like: While you may start with what you like, you can develop it and make it flower the way you want. You may build several steps towards your Life / Career Mission.
03. You can do what you always wanted to do in addition to your Business: For example, If you always wanted to contribute to a Social cause in addition to your work, now you have a wonderful chance to just do that.
01. You can be in touch with your ‘Real You’: When you are an Entrepreneur, the need to be in harmony with the world around you will ensure that you keep your ego aside and deal with everyone around you. This is a huge opportunity for you to be in touch with your ‘Real You’. Of course once you are successful, you may go back to your ‘old being’. But, you have the opportunity to choose the ‘Real you’.
02. You may earn much more than what you would earn in a job: You normally start off with this goal. But, you may have to wait for some time before you can achieve this. You may earn much more than what you would earn in a job over a period of time.
03. You may create something that is lasting: Every Entrepreneur has this chance to create something that is lasting beyond himself. You have a chance to create a great value for the Society.
There are so many benefits that if you use this opportunity well, you can learn much more in life than what you would do if you work in a Job!
Critical factor: If you are on your own, I feel the most important thing is to have higher Goal and really enjoy what you are doing. All other Commercial Goals will be achieved if you are progressing towards this higher Goal. All the Very Best !!
In the last few years, we can see a very good Start up culture across the Country. We can see Youngsters and Older people alike getting in to some Business or the other. Industries across India are in a ‘Correction mode’ where they have stopped recruiting as they used to and are in the phase of improving People Productivity. So, the Jobs are not available in plenty. This is also pushing some people to go on their own.
I consider this as a highly positive development. People of India have the choice of going on their own. Many Professions are gaining the respectability that they deserve. Some years back, selling food on the Road side may not have been preferred by Educated youngsters. But, now the Food Trucks are well respected and you can see well educated youngsters getting in to it. This is how a Society develops. More Capable people enter in to every area and generally there will be an upliftment of the work concerned with Customers getting better Quality for lesser price.
You can see this happening in Politics too. More Educated people are getting in to Politics. You can see some good examples like Nandan Nilekani who are prepared to throw their hat in to serve in a field. I am sure this will lift the arena of Politics and Politicians. We need more to happen in this area.
Job or Business ?
I notice that there are atleast Four types of People around us.
01. Early adapters: These people may be second Generation in a Business Family or they may be first generation Businessmen / Women who chose to go on their own immediately after Education. I personally like this category very much as I feel they have chosen their Mission early on.
02. Planned adapters: I see a lot of people coming in to Business this way. They earn some money and experience before they make up their mind to do what they want to.
03. Better Late than never adapters: These are the Professionals who would have put in 15-25 years in the Industry and then decided to leverage their long experience to do something on their own.
04. Second Innings: These are perhaps people who start doing something after gaining lot of experience and saving some money.
I belong to the third category above. I personally feel there is nothing wrong with any of the above categories. We are all what we are ! Each of us have our own Priorities and Compulsions in our lives.
Why do we want to go on our own ?
It is perfectly okay to Work in a Job or Be on your own. We need to understand what drives us as individuals.
Some of us are quite happy working in a 9 – 5 Job. We get adjusted to the demands of the Job. We find our peace in it. We build our lives around the Companies that we are working for. Some of us may not be working in a single company. We may shift our jobs. But, we are quite fine with working in a job. We build our homes, educate our children and we keep progressing in our lives. This is perfect as long as you enjoy what you are doing.
There are some of us who are not happy doing the 9-5 job. You always have this burning desire to do something more and something what you always wanted to. This person also has the same needs as the person discussed in the previous para. But, this person is motivated by something more. Initially, this person may not have his Goal clearly spelt out. This person may be unhappy many times at the job. There may be nothing wrong with the job. But, what is causing the struggle in his/her mind is his/her own ‘nature’. He wants to do something on his own and Create something in a different manner.
Put your finger on it..
I request those ‘Own Types’ to recognize this desire in them. It requires some amount of reflection and soul searching to find this. There is no point in blaming the job you are in or your colleagues and your Boss. What is causing the discomfort is ‘your own nature’. Recognize this and take steps to fulfill this in a nice manner. For all you know, you may be able to do something for the Company that you have been working for.
What to look out for?
Having been on my own for the past 6 years, I have gone through the metamorphosis of being in ‘Senior Positions’ to being ‘on my own’. I would like to share my experiences on being on my own and what you can look out for:
01. Leave your ‘I am Boss’ feeling in your last job: When you work in a fairly Senior Position in your Company, you would have gotten used to being pampered by your team. You get a lot of respect whether you deserve it or not. That comes with the Position you were working for. When you come on your own, you have to EARN this with every single person that you meet. Your ‘Past’ can get you somewhere. But, not everywhere. So, clearly ‘What got you here, won’t get you there’ !
02. Learn to do small things on your own: When you work in a Company, you would have gotten used to getting things done by your Team. There would be a Battery of people to do several small things like booking an air ticket, booking a taxi, preparing a presentation and so on. When you come on your own, you need to learn to do these things very quickly.
03. That ‘Secure’ feeling: When you are in a Job, without you realizing it you feel very secure in several situations. You know the Company would take care if you fall sick or if any of your family members fall sick. You may have a Mediclaim when you get on your own. But, still the ‘Secure’ feeling will be missing. You would have been getting the support of the Company in several areas without you realizing it. Like a quick word from the MD for admission of your Kid in to a good school / college or the help of your Colleague to get appointment in a Busy hospital and so on. These are all small things. But, your family would have gotten used to all these. Now, you will not have this ‘warm blanket’ around you when you get on to your own.
04. Have you really ‘been there and done that’: Many of us may not realise that the Big wins that we had in our career would have been contributed largely by the team that was working with us. You would have been a good aggregator working at the top end ! If you did not get in to the Shop floor and implemented the practices yourself, then suddenly you may find that you cannot really help a client or yourself when you get in to the Shop floor to repeat it when you are on your own!! This is a serious problem. You have to measure yourself on this scale even before quitting your job !
05. Can you Slow down and empathize with others: When you are trying to help others as a Consultant or trying to get something done with your team in your own Venture, you have to be able to Slow down and get down to the speed of others. You should be able to measure progress on their scale and not on your scale. This ability decides how far you can help your own team or your clients.
06. Can you Cross Pollinate: You would have experience in certain industries and certain situations. You would not have covered the whole gambit. If you have selected to do something in a field you have been working all your life, then you are relatively safe. But, if you have to get in to other Industries and help them, then your ability to transfer your learnings in to another set up and make them work is very important. For example, Can you bring your learnings from dealing with a Dealer network in Capital Equipment industry, modify them to dealing with Dealer Network in an FMCG environment?
07. Do you like Bungy Jumping: When you leave your job and go on your own, you may not know whether you would be successful. You may not know whether you can be successful consistently. If you are consulting like I have been doing, you would not be sure of ‘Good billing’ every month consistently. If you have set up a Restaurant, you would not know when you would get pushed off the perch by a competitor across the road. So, there is more adrenalin involved in being on your own. You will get used to it over a period of time and you may start enjoying it. I equate it to Bungy Jumping. Only difference is you do not know whether the rope is tied properly or not!!
08. Can you really build a team: Those of us who worked for a longer time in a job have to be aware of one more basic skill that we need. We need to attract a team and retain them for a reasonable period. When you were in job, you would have done it day in and day out. But, at that time the BIG COMPANY was behind you. Now, you are the BIG COMPANY. You need to change yourself to succeed here. You can’t be saying ‘IF this guy leaves, HR will get one more’ !! You are the HR !!
These are some of the ‘Look outs’ for those of you wanting to get on to your own. I will share more on the perks of being on your own in next article.
Critical: If you are continuously being unhappy at job, recognize that it is not about your Job/Boss/Colleagues. It is about you wanting to do something more!! Respect that feeling. Analyze it. See if you are ready to take that plunge! Otherwise, it may explode in your face sometime!!
I can help you if you need help. What are friends for?? JJ