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Boyden UK's Industrial Team recently attended the Manufacturing Leaders Summit as part of Digital Manufacturing Week and people have consistently been highlighted as the key to future success. 

By Guy Herbertson
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Having spent last week at the fantastic Manufacturing Leader's Summit within Digital Manufacturing Week and the Smart Factory Expo, people were consistently discussed as the solution, barrier and opportunity for UK manufacturing in a new technological environment.

In the panel debate on whether #UKmfg can "win" the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the opening comments focused on leadership and how to maximise the opportunities presented by 4IR. Each panelist stated that it is the investment in people that would lead to a successful digital transformation and stressed investment in technology alone would not deliver results.

Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK, wanted people to be given space, time and permission to experiment and learn. Neil Anderson, Managing Director at Caterpillar, felt engagement and culture along with re-education, particularly through apprentice degrees is the best way forward. Naveed Khawaja, Transformation Director at AstraZeneca, focused on intrinsic motivation of people, ensuring your business and your people have a shared vision and purpose. Naveed also echoed Jurgen’s thoughts on giving people the time and space to break out of the day to day routine which will foster a culture of innovation.

Richard Lloyd, General Manager at Accolade Wines, went a step further to discuss diversity, particularly at leadership level. With a 50/50 gender board split, they are ahead of the majority of the manufacturing sectors, so they are well positioned to advise. Richard discussed people as the key differentiator, anyone can buy a robot and embark upon Industry 4.0. The way to maximise business opportunities will be the way in which people think, their behaviours and ensuring companies are giving people the space to think and innovate, which is proven to be greater when there is diversity of opinions. This was identified in Boyden’s recent gender diversity study which was the catalyst for our #DisruptTheNorm campaign. Boyden reported that 85% of businesses with diversity and inclusion policies delivered enhanced innovation and profitability.

When it came to overcoming barriers to adoption of technology, the panel anticipated people engagement & cultural acceptance being the most severe blocker. Andrew Schofield, Technology Director at BAE Systems, believes that OEM’s not only have a responsibility to educate and upskill their own people but also a responsibility to support their supply chains on this journey. Sam Turner, CTO at High Value Manufacturing Catapult, stated that 75% of the skills required to drive the technology change are already in employment, which in itself is concerning when you consider how many businesses are not yet upskilling and retraining their workforces for the future.

Ultimately, change is frightening for most people and for leaders knowing where to start is often the most difficult decision.

With the required skills in short supply the competition for exceptional leaders and people has never been fiercer. This is a challenge Boyden sees on a daily basis and a challenge we have helped leaders overcome.

The overriding message was that the mindset and skillset of your people and leadership teams will impact your ability to take advantage of the £450bn opportunity outlined by the Made Smarter Review.

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