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STIMS Institute offers its vision of 21st Century Manufacturing.

CEO Dialogue 2I

In a recent CEO Forum organized by MGTL, Dr. K. (Subbu) Subramanian, President STIMS Institute Inc., offered his vision of the 21st Century Manufacturing and outlined the need for requisite work force skills to meet the emerging needs. This forum was held at Pune, India on Nov. 21, 2014. For a complete presentation, please see: Manufacturing in the 21st Century

Few excerpts:

  • “Manufacturing” is a collection of (a) physical processes enabled by a host of (b) information processes and aided by a collection of (c) pick and place and transfer processes, which at the moment are a combination of physical events and information events.
  • Core capability for any manufacturing:  repetitive use of physical processes, to achieve or USE the “Product” at the required quantity, place and time to meet the end user needs.
  • Manufacturers have two options: (a) Steady improvement in the processes already deployed; The result is a constant reduction in the explicit knowledge and skill required with respect to the Physical Processes used. Over time, they have become the black boxes surrounded by a myriad of service processes, which are generic and practiced in all companies and industries. (b) Introduction of a stream of new solutions resulting in New Products, New Processes and New Applications/ USE. These new solutions are the result of intense knowledge of the physical processes unique to the manufacturing company.
  • Breakthrough – step change – solutions will be expected as a routine output of manufacturing professionals of the future. But, in order to sustain such improvements the process has to be managed as a whole – as a system. Constant tweaking or small changes in the system which disturbs the equilibrium of the process cannot be tolerated, if maximum impact is the desired outcome. This will require manufacturing professionals who are simultaneously good at process science as well as process economics, with expertise to integrate knowledge from all available sources.
  • We find two parallel chains operating across all manufacturing companies (i.e.) Supply Chain which deals with the information processes that interconnect the various tiers of manufacturers and Functional Value Chain, where the physical processes and their exploitation play a silent but foundational role across the manufacturers.
  •  Since the products are enables by processes and the USE is also a process in a manner of speaking, we are left with “Process and its knowledge and the capability to manipulate any process” may be the primary core capability or skill set of future manufacturing professionals! The role of human labor and their employment in large numbers is not a critical need in this description of manufacturing. It is important for policy makers to make note of this subtle but significant point.
  • Work force skills required for 21st century manufacturing:

Manufacturing Processes

Traditional Sources of Knowledge

New Knowledge Required

 Traditional Worker Skills

 New Worker Skills Required

   Physical Processes Engineers and shop floor workers with technical training, trade skills and academic education. ·  Process Science·  Diagnostics·  Data and   Analysis·  Sector specific know-how Engineers with years of experience located close to the shop floor operations ·       System Thinkers and Solution Providers Reliant on Process Science·       Reliant on sensors, signals and their use.
 Information Processes Collection of tasks that evolved through the years ·       IT·       Data Base·       Big data·       Analytics White Collar Workers with standard plug and play IT solutions ·       System Thinkers·       Solution Providers·       Customized IT solutions
  Pick and Place / Transfer Processes Industrial work force through many years of training and hands on experience. ·       CNC, Robotics and AGV·       Drones ·       Blue collar workers·       Standard work and tasks·       Physical effort and de-skilled operations. ·       System Thinkers·       Solution Providers·       Comfortable in virtual control environment

Learn to swim against the tide of Binary Economy

http://www.amazon.com/Thriving-Century-Transformational-Technical-Professionals/dp/0791860167/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371673516&sr=1-1&keywords=Transformational+Skills+Subramanian
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thriving-in-the-21st-century-economy-k-subramanian/1115191210?ean=9780791860168

https://www.asme.org/products/books/thriving-21st-century-economy-transformational

It is an undeniable axiom of globalization: anyone in any job or profession has to be better than anyone else who can do the same job from a pool of workers across the globe. Conversely, those who can do a job in a similar manner to others around the globe will be rewarded for their effort at the lowest value at which the work can be procured from anyone else across the globe! Every worker will fall into one of these two extremes. Anyone in the middle will be ultimately swept to the low-labor-cost pool.
While there will be a natural tendency to be swept into the lower-wage pool, it will require a special effort to swim against the current to be associated with the limited few in the high-wage, high-reward pool. Swim against the stream and reach a high place (of New Solutions with identifiable impact) or be swept away into the global pool of low-cost resources (needed for Replication Solutions) is the true paradigm of globalization. There is little or no opportunity for treading water in this paradigm. This constant struggle to swim upstream and against the current is what is perceived as the volatility and uncertainty in the workplace. Suggestions such as higher education, higher SAT scores, and more grit and perseverance are all means to the same end. But as we have detailed in our book – see the links below – all of these have to be formatted toward identification, development, and exploitation of New Solutions using Transformational Skills as the means to this end.

http://ebooks.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/book.aspx?bookid=657

Do you know your “core” capability?

Are you the owner of a small or medium sized manufacturing company? Are you the head of a profit center or a Business Unit that is part of a company group? If you are, it is very likely that you are one of the business leaders, trying to find ways to keep your business above water. Some of you may be concerned about growing your bottom line and in rare occasions seeking ways to further grow your business. But, no matter what your needs are, it is certain that you are facing the stiff winds of global competition, cost pressures, challenges from outsourced operations and above all a sense of uncertainty about the future.

We believe that such pessimism and the sense of gloom and doom about manufacturing industries and their future is not warranted. It is true that there are stiff head winds and it is also true that the waters are turbulent. But, you are not up the creek, with out a paddle!

Have you ever sat back and asked yourself, “How did we (your business unit) get here?” No, I do not mean, how you got into a situation of stiff competition and low profit margins and high costs. These are all obvious and readily known to every one. But, have you figured out how your business or operation grew from its beginnings to where it is today? It did not happen by chance or by some luck or through magic! It happened because you and your people along with your suppliers and your customers contributed their share of knowledge and know-how that resulted in the products you manufacture, the processes you use to make them and also the applications know-how through which your customers use your products. The “Products. Processes and Applications knowhow” are your core capabilities. These core capabilities are embedded in the knowledge of many people connected with your company – through your employees, suppliers and customers and their customers.

You might say “It is indeed true that we did not grow out of thin air. We built our company, brick by brick though our products, manufacturing process capabilities and our know-how to help our customers use our products better. Then, whatever happened to my business or operation, over the years? Why are we struggling today with low profitability and shrinking margins and low to no growth?” One can ask such valid questions and wallow in misery or merely be nostalgic about the good old days for ever. Instead, you can muster the passion to dig deeper.

Your product is not any widget you put in your shipping box. It is not merely something you identify by a product number or a bar code. Product is something of value to some one (the user), who is willing to pay you (the manufacturer) something of value to you. Can you describe your “Product” using the above definition? Is there any one in your sales, product design/development, manufacturing/production, tech-support or general management who can describe your product in terms of the value to your customer and the expected value for you in return? Do you know who they are? Do they all have the same understanding of the user value and manufacture’s value or are they speaking over each other in different languages? Your journey for the future can start right here and now, by developing a common definition of your “Product” and developing a core team across the business functions that speaks the same language about your product.

How well do you know your Processes to manufacture your products? They are not “black box” that nobody knows anything about, after Joe Smith retires from the company! All processes in your manufacturing floor have well defined Inputs, which are converted into Outputs. All processes are “Input/Transformation/Output” system. No, we are not talking about Ph.D language. In the past years, few who knew about the process could tweak them and keep them going, while others were simply pairs of hands to help them out. We can not do that any more. All processes can be diagnosed (using proper sensors and IT tools for measurement), repaired, improved and in some cases changed dramatically. But, you can not do any of the above, if you think that the processes in your shop floor are merely “black box” put in place by some one who left the company years ago! Your journey for the future can start right here and now, by developing a common definition of the key “Processes” in your manufacturing floor and developing a system view of these processes across all the business functions that support such processes. You would not like to see any medical professional with out a stethoscope and a thermometer. Then, why would you not want all your manufacturing process professionals have similar capability to measure and diagnose and cure the problem with respect to your processes and their health?

How well do you know your customer’s processes (Application) and how you can add value in their processes through your products? If software is the enabler of all the growth and success in the IT industry, you can make your AT (Applications Technology) as the enabler for your growth and success in the manufacturing industry. AT helps you to build alliances with your suppliers and customers towards building solutions of shared benefits. If you have treated your process as a black box, it is likely that your customers have done the same with their processes. It is about time, you helped them to do a “health check up” on their processes, while they use your product. After all, strong and healthy customer process is essential for your long term strength and success.

Product, Process and Applications know-how are your core capabilities, which got you where you are today! They are the bench strength of your team. You can do more or less with them enabled by all the plug and play IT capabilities. But, you can not build a manufacturing industry with out the brick and mortar (i.e) Product, Process and Applications Technology. Have you taken the time to cultivate them? If not, may be it is time for you and the key personnel in your team to go through the “Core Capability Boot Camp”?

A brief Video on Transformational Skills

On Sep. 4, 2021 Dr. Subramanian presented a Webinar under KITE Webinar series hosted by AMTDC at IIT Madras, Chennai, India. This is part of a series of Webinars https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb2CvpVcCQ_rgt3JwEjWuyA useful to young professionals to succeed in the 21st century workplace.

A brief edited version of the webinar can be seen at  https://youtu.be/_emiqz7yRx8

After a brief introduction (First 3 minutes), Dr. Subramanian takes the viewer through a series of episodes in his professional life, which required and shaped his views on System Thinking and Transformational Skills.

The second half of the video (about 20 minutes) uses a set of few slides and their description to make the concepts of ST and TS more concrete and easier to follow for any professional.

Enjoy the viewing and learning!

IT or DT is not the only “Technology”!

This morning as I was reading the following, I felt vindicated in some small scale! https://www.quora.com/We-know-the-wi-in-wi-fi-means-wireless-but-what-does-the-fi-mean We know the ‘wi’ in ‘wi-fi’ means wireless but what does the ‘fi’ mean?

WiFi is short for “wireless fidelity.” This is not the case. WiFi is simply a trademarked term meaning IEEE 802.11x. The false notion that the brand name “WiFi” is short for “wireless fidelity” has spread to such an extent that even industry leaders have included the phrase wireless fidelity in a press release. You’ll also find references to WiFi being short for wireless fidelity on a number of well-known and respected technology-focused publications and websites. The truth is, WiFi isn’t short for anything and it never was.

The above is equally true for the common use of the term “Technology”!

In a recent post https://stimsinstitute.com/2021/12/03/futureofwork/ we have mentioned the following:

Science, Engineering and Management — Integrating the above is Technology. 
Digital or IT is NOT the only “Technology”. It is just one form of Technology.
Using the word “Technology” and imply DT or IT is a very vivid example of lack in common language. This singular failure across the globe (of the word technology and its meaning) has made all education other than IT / Computer Science appear less relevant or valuable in public perception! It also illustrates a lack of discipline and in-depth knowledge across the media professionals, pundits, educators, policy makers and politicians who merely use the words for their sound bite and not as a means to communicate what they truly mean or understand.

This lack of common language permeates every where. Do we really know what the words Democracy, Conservative, Liberal, Safety-net, Religion, Spiritual, …. truly stand for?

Do we teach our students the difference between Science, Engineering and Management and their integration in STEM education? Or do we simply cloak the “T” in STEM for IT? The “M” in the STEM education stands for “Mathematics” or “Management”? How can you teach anything analytical without “M” for Mathematics? Why is that singled out in STEM? Management implied skills for Strategic thinking and operational excellence. What good is it to teach STEM, if such education does not contain “M” for Management?

#FutureofWorkforce

#Futureofwork

Yes, we are tired of Digital Technology and its onslaught on everything “normal”. Like the old battle cry leading to the revolutionary war – “the British are coming” – there is now a chorus saying “AI and Robotics are coming”. This change in the nature of work began in the the late 1970s. In the year 2000, our first book was published titled “The System Approach – A Strategy to Survive and Succeed in the Global Economy” https://stimsinstitute.com/20151207books/ where we stated “if you merely repeat what you have done before and there are others who can do the same, then the lowest cost person will remain employed. To Survive and succeed in this Global Economy, you need to be a System Thinker – figuring out what needs to be done and why and make that happen – and not merely a task oriented person (doing what you are asked to do without questioning)!”

Since then we have explored this need and the means for survival in professional life, with modest success. More than that, we have been able to mentor and train a large body of fellow professionals across the globe. This resulted in the summary – Transformational Skills – published in 2013 with co-author Prof. Rangan. https://stimsinstitute.com/20151207books/ The Transformational skills all are interconnected and not sequential or hierarchical. They are:

  1. Always develop a common language
    • Our biggest challenge today in our Digital world is that we are rich in words (information), poor in their meaning and common understanding. 
  2. 3D view of core capabilities:
    • Personal: Knowledge, Experience, Interpersonal skills
    • Professional: Science, Engineering and Management
      • Integrating the above is Technology 
      • Digital or IT is NOT the only “Technology”. It is just one form of Technology
        • A very vivid example of lack in common language.
        • This singular failure across the globe (of the word technology and its meaning) has made all education other than IT / Computer Science appear less relevant or valuable in public perception!
    • Enterprise: DT (Digital World), Physical Technology and Finance / Market Drivers.
  3. Always frame the situation / problem / opportunity as an “Input/Transformation / Output” system. 
    • The whole is always larger than and different from the mere sum of its parts!
  4. Emphasis on analysis, reasoning, data and inference
    • We are in a Knowledge Economy. Knowledge requires using our intellectual skills extensively.
  5. End to End Innovation: 
    • Solution and its impact matters.
    • But you can not get there without diligence
    • Nor can you get there without a shared vision and emotional intelligence (6 and 7 below).
  6. Develop and maintain a network for shared vision, goals and efforts..
    • Opportunities for collaboration and shared vision are limitless. All constraints in any form (nation, gender, family, self, rich/poor, have/have not, race, religion, intelligent/dumb, etc.) are all self imposed constraints.
  7. Emotional Intelligence.
    • Think and do good for others; it might be the only right thing for you to get better!
    • May everyone and indeed everything exist in peace and harmony!

Today I was watching a PBS episode titled: Future of work  https://www.pbs.org/show/future-work/
Using many visual examples the show arrives at a model for “Barbell Economy”, where the middle is depleted while strengthening of the two ends (high income jobs and low wage jobs). Actually this is a poor model of reality. The depletion in the middle is not equally pushed to either side like the barbell. See: https://stimsinstitute.com/2016/05/23/do-americans-really-miss-the-unions/
We have captured the changing nature of work more accurately as “Binary Economy” in our book titled “Thriving in the 21st Century Economy – Transformational Skills for Technical Professionals” published by ASME Press in 2013 – nearly 9 years ago:https://stimsinstitute.com/20151207books/

At the end of the PBS show, after an hour long lament on what is happening, the show leaves with a vague plea for change, with no formal or structured solution at the end! :-( Honestly, I felt depressed that at the end of the show there is nothing concrete to advance the society. But, this is nothing new. Most essays and movies on this topic rehash the past rather than leading the charge for change to the future. https://stimsinstitute.com/2020/11/22/commentary-on-american-factory/

Contrast that with our book where we lay out the Binary Economy model (the why?) in the first half, and we end with a clear set of Transformational Skills (the what to do about it) and the necessity for sustained education towards that in the second half of the book.
 The gravity of this issue and the solution have been further condensed into five simple illustrations:  https://stimsinstitute.com/2021/07/22/5-significant-lessons-for-any-professional-in-the-21st-century/

Will some one interested in workforce development (Educators, policy makers, parents, students) take a look at the Transformational Skills needed and adapt them as part of a sustained education and communication effort?

The forces of Digital Technology are the same in terms of challenges for companies to survive and succeed. The same Transformational Skills are also equally applicable to enterprises as they apply to individual workers.
#FutureOfWorkPBS

5 significant lessons for any “Professional” in the 21st Century!

STIMS Institute Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary – Part 1

On June 2021, STIMS Institute reached a significant milestone, its ten year anniversary! There have been many greetings and wishes for our continued success. We thank every one of our collaborators, friends and well wishers. To acknowledge this mile stone, we are pleased to publish a series of highlights summarizing the outcomes from the past ten years. Following is part 1 under the title: 5 significant lessons for any “Professional” in the 21st Century!

  1. Work and wealth Distribution are radically changing. Be aware and get prepared for it. Learn to swim through this sea change! The layers of work are increasingly separate, opaque and impermeable. The opportunity to grow from one layer of work to the next and thus climb the organizational hierarchy may no longer be valid.
  1. There is no “middle”, “learning curve” or “Safety net” unless you want to be dependent on the Government or Charity! Learn to deal with this critical reality of professional life. You can have the “Google jobs” creating a stream of new solutions or “McDonald jobs” which are low wage, plug and play activities. Every job will get pushed to either side, with a chasm in the “middle”.

See Thriving in the 21st Century: Transformational Skills for the “Binary Economy” model.

  1. Jumping across the chasm of the “middle” requires relentless practice of System Thinking for all professionals, at every level. Don’t do what you are asked to do (the task). Figure out what needs to be done, why and how? Then make it happen and rewarding!
  1.   System Thinking can be at three levels. Professional life today is not getting a college degree and then coasting in the job. Instead it is  a relentless search for new solutions everyday and in every job. Some professionals may not need that for their success or survival, if you have already made it or in a specialty area in hot demand. But your fellow professionals depend on you for your stream of new solutions for their success and survival! But, remember that the “hot area of specialty” don’t last as long as before. Their half life is increasingly short!
  1.     Growth in job and career is no longer a matter of how long you worked in a company, job or field of activity. See point 1 above and the impermeable layers in the figure. Every professional at every level of their job or career needs to be focussed on life long learning, contributing through a relentless stream of new solutions. Transform any job / assignment (activity) into a series of goals and their impact. In turn pave the way for the means necessary for sustainability. These are the outcomes of System Thinking and Transformational Skills. Practice them  relentlessly together with your academic education and industry/domain specific learning.

One final point: The Transformational Skills of End to End Innovation, Eco system Development and Emotional Intelligence rely more on the philosophy of thinking on behalf of others – using the heart and the mind in unison with that of every one and everything else. With this philosophic underpinning as a professional strength we can expect peace and harmony within each of us. It in turn will bring skills and resources to work with people and cultures across the globe. They can lead to solutions to meet the growing wealth gap, Climate crisis, racial and religious dissentions and other adverse effects of the 21st century society.

Will you be a System Thinking and Transformational technical professional as well as a Philosophic universalist? The power is well within each of us and collectively in all of us. Our decade of progress at STIMS Institute points out that there is indeed opportunity for both these pathways for evolution for all of us.