Multi-dimensional impact of a changing Industrial Operational Work space versus the transforming workforce!

Let’s take a look at the industrial work space a step beyond the changing workforce – that of the industrial work space. The way in which we operate the business, from:

  • business strategy to operational execution real-time alignment
  • to serving customers
  • new product introduction
  • to operating across multiple plants and regions
  • to collaboration manufacturing
  • to speed and agility of manufacturing

Are all changing, at increasing speed, forcing increased volume, quicker accountability and consistent “actionable decisions”?

There are two significant forces (workforce transformation to dynamic workforce, and the work space transformation) at play that These are “lining up” to drive the most significant transformation in the  business/ operational landscape required in order to be competitive, leveraging the third force available that of technology, (bandwidth, Internet of things, cloud, etc).

This post focuses on the changing Operational Work space as illustrated in diagram below:



This post focuses on the changing Operational Work space that illustrates at least four dimensions where the work space is changing dramatically. I suspect there are more around collaboration, sharing, accountability due to regulations. According to the diagram we four dimensions:


  • Moving from Multi Layered and vertical integration to flattened organization, but a very virtual organization, that spreads across the product value chain, and not just within a plant. So you can have now a product organization that manages the product business as a whole, new products, delivery, competitive position, etc. across multiple plants, regions, etc. as compared to the traditional vertical organization that is confined to one or several locations.
  • Moving from Command and Control to Flexibility and Agility based organization structures, with increasing use of matrix organizations, where the vertical local plant and horizontal product lines of business-effect combine to drive the goals, and objectives of the personnel on a plant. This is a clear evolution as the operational workforce becomes more empowered to make real-time decisions. Their responsibility and accountability increases forcing actionable decisions that will require different interactions in the organization structure.
  • Transforming from ladder growth/ evolution in an operational team, to a less structured dynamic team with changing and evolving roles. As operational processes/ models change, so roles and activities of those roles will evolve. Virtual roles will become more common with the roles having operational responsibility over multiple plants /regions. So too the way in which an operational business can recruit and evolve its operational team will change. In a team the new personnel may come from anywhere, or even be located anywhere as the roles evolve, compared to the traditional ladder where roles have been relatively local and consistent for 20+ years. No longer will roles and role structure be consistent. Newer roles will evolve and be agile enough to fit the new operational paradigms of the company.
  • To correspond with the evolution of roles, and organizations the HR must also evolve from a process to “talent Science” that enables the evolving roles and required skills to map to transforming workforce of skills, locations. A lot of traditional HR methods must go out the door, and workforce evolution is the key to matching the role, and organization evolution, combining this with the Gen Y culture differences.

I have spoken a lot in this blog about the changing workforce.

In reflection we must not get confused with significantly transforming Operational Work space, and the fact that organizations and roles will also be dynamic in the new world. It is important that we design our operational/supervisory system to be able to transcend the changes in roles.

The leading thought and practice to address this Operational Work space transformation, is the operational / supervisory system design that must be centered on “activities” versus roles and applications as of today. These activities are performed by roles that are changing based on “activities they are accountable for”, and the system can be sustained through the evolutionary management of these “activities” and the associated information, and action.

Next week we will talk about the other leg of this change the workforce and “Empowering a New Generation of Front Line Workers”.




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