The folks at the Precision Metalforming Association were putting together their 75th anniversary issue of Metalforming magazine, and wanted to share with their readers that it’s better to align yourself to the trends of the future rather than the opportunities of the past.
And they found me! We had a long interview, which appeared in their July publication. Parts are reprinted below.
I do A LOT of manufacturing keynotes. The reality is, tomorrows’ manufacturing is unlike that of today.
You can choose to adopt to the future, or wish you were in the past. So — are you George, or Fred?
2017 and Beyond by Brad Kuvin
A futurist and expert in trends and innovation examines what he refers to as the “modern-day leadership dilemma”–heading toward the Jetsons when you have a bunch of Flintstones around!
Futurist Jim Carroll noted in a blog post earlier this year that “while the majority of my audience appreciates a whirlwind ride into the future, there are others who just wish the future would go away… Leaders today must steer their organizations into a fast-paced future—through the shoals of disruption, the emergence of new competitors, technology, automation and other challenges—while understanding that there is a core group that will do little to embrace that change. It’s the Flintstones and the Jetsons, in one workplace!”
Carroll has been providing his insights and speaking to organizations about the future for more than 25 years.MetalForming asked him to help us commemorate PMA’s 75 anniversary by sharing his manufacturing outlook over the next 5 to 10 years, and explaining why it’s critical that we embrace and address the change that’s coming.
At the crux is the increasing need, he says, to react more quickly than ever to changing/evolving customer preferences, and the shortening of product lifecycles. Manufacturers must be driven to react quickly to new demands and requirements. In the shop this plays out as more tooling adjustments and changeovers, more flexible scheduling and the ability to react to a slew of design changes.
This represents a complete turnaround from how manufacturers currently think about doing things, Carroll says. And, the impact ripples through the supply chain. Suppliers must, for example, become rapid prototypers, and master the iterative design process.
“We used to be able to design a product, build a model, test it and then launch production,” Carroll says. “Now it’s design, test, redesign, test, redesign, etc…an iterative process that, thanks to disruptive technologies such as additive manufacturing, allow suppliers to efficiently optimize product designs and, ultimately, provide better-performing products.”
For suppliers living in this world of upside-down innovation, “it’s critical, looking toward the future, to become unstuck from the reactive mode,” Carroll notes. “Instead, suppliers must become active partners with their customers in this iterative design and rapid-prototyping cycle. Be more active and less reactive, and look for opportunities to innovate.”
Carroll’s above-referenced blog postnotes that “there remain folks who just refuse to participate in the inevitability of the future, and that can be a significant leadership, strategic challenge…Many people today feel that the world is moving way too fast for them, and that the pace of change is overwhelming.”
In a recent poll of seminar attendees, Carroll found that many organizations do in fact feel overwhelmed by change, and that many executives believe that they don’t really need to do anything to deal with it.
“In other words,” Carroll says, “they believe that the future can be safely ignored. I use the ‘Jetsons-meets-the-Flintstones’ concept as a joke, but it’s not—this is a real and substantive leadership issue. As a CEO or senior executive, how are you going to align a fast-paced future—one full of challenge and opportunity—to an organization where a significant number of people don’t think that the future will impact them?”