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 !!