Megxit For Manufacturers: Lessons In Upgrading Your Factory
The British nation are glued to their TV screens eagerly awaiting each update about the ongoing saga that the media has labeled “Megxit.” Two years ago, the hearts of the nation sang as the tragic, loveable prince, who had already rejected countless maidens, finally found his one true love. How can it be that in such a short span of time, the whole thing has deteriorated into a pile of smashed dreams and broken promises?
There is a lesson here for all of us, and for manufacturers in particular. Meghan Markle believed she could shake up the centuries-old British monarchy through force of will alone. She had no real plan, just “Hollywood” attitude, and the confidence that she would get what she wanted in the end.
Your factory has been operating a certain way for years, maybe decades, maybe centuries. While you intellectually grasp that modernization and advances in technology mean that things must change, that doesn’t mean you can revolutionize everything overnight, just because you want to. Even if all your competitors are modernizing and you know your business is at risk if you don’t follow suit, it can still be daunting and hard to leap in and start shaking things up. Change is a process that should take time, careful thought and forward-planning. There are usually right and wrong ways of doing things and you want to make sure you approach updating your factory in the best possible way.
Here are some lessons forward-thinking manufacturers can learn from Megxit:
- Change will be met with resistance – Whether it is at the C-level or down on the shop floor, there will always be people who will try to resist your changes. Your workers are likely comfortable with the old ways and so are your business leaders and managers. This is especially true if your business has been profitable over the years. You have to be smart in the way you try and win your people over. Make sure they are in the loop and informed about changes in the industry as a whole. The more you explain things to your staff and management and involve them in decision-making, the more they will want to take ownership and help you reach your goals.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day (and neither will your “new” factory be) – It probably took years to build up a profitable manufacturing business, so if things need to change you have to appreciate that this will also take time. Don’t expect to revolutionize things all at once. Pick the areas that are most in need of transformation and focus your attention there first. A 2-5 year modernization plan is probably realistic. Great things will happen if you take it step by step.
- Plan to win – The most successful businesses did not just pop up out of the blue, rather they were the result of careful strategizing and planning. If you don’t know where you are headed, how can you get there? Articulate how you want your factory to look in a few years’ time and make a sensible, logical and realistic plan of how to get there. The more you plan ahead, (and also anticipate some inevitable failures), the more likely you are to succeed.4
- Adopt a flexible mindset – Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, talks about the mindset for success being one that is flexible, not fixed. People with fixed mindsets find it hard to adjust to change and don’t know how to deal with problems as they arise. Rather than being innovative and enthusiastic about finding creative solutions to complex problems, they tend to want to operate cautiously and want to work “by the book.” When you are undergoing a project as complex as restructuring and modernizing a factory, some things will inevitably go wrong. It is very rare to find a change project where everything turns out as expected. If you want to successfully transition to an Industry 4.0-ready facility you need to be flexible and prepared to deal with hiccups along the way.
While we are sorry about the wave of negative publicity Meghan’s proposed exit from royalty has ignited, we are also grateful for the timely reminder that change should always be approached cautiously, carefully and strategically.