Whether scoring in football or manufacturing – collaboration is a winning formula

Posted on 30 Jul 2014 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturers competing in today’s global playing field need a collaborative match strategy if they want to beat the competition, says Dassault Systemes' Gordon Benzie.

Gordon Benzie
Gordon Benzie, Dassault Systemes

The World Cup might just have been the ultimate example of the critical role global collaboration plays in accomplishing success. Competition is extreme, the stakes are high, and the best team usually ends up winning. In manufacturing, this is an everyday occurrence, and one that needs regular nurturing in order to achieve and sustain success.

The 32 competing teams at the World Cup in Brazil this year all displayed different methods of teamwork and strategy in order to bring their A-game on match day. Although each player has their own position and responsibility on the pitch, they are unable to compete without collaboration with their fellow teammates.

Mario Gotze would never have been able to score the winning goal without the rest of the German team getting the ball to the goal. This was more than a demonstration of sporting prowess; it was also an example of individual components coming together to form one successful unit. It is a lesson for business as well as a sporting spectacle.

Workplace collaboration is top of the priority list for manufacturers given the ever-evolving complexity of product development, customer needs and global networks. As the world continues to become “flatter,” pressure has increased on manufacturers to adopt a business model appropriate for such a dynamic environment.

Delivering innovation in the shortest possible time for the lowest cost is essential. Unlike the World Cup winning team, there are no rest days or trophies for global businesses. Manufacturing operations must be match-fit 24/7 to ensure customers receive a competition-beating experience without any own-goals!

With this in mind, here are five steps organisations can take to form more collaborative and responsive operations:

  1. Ensure your own corporate goals are closely aligned with the values of customers. If your customers require frequent product updates reflecting current trends, then your product development lifecycle must include similar feedback communication loops
  2. Leverage enterprise social networking applications throughout production, distribution, sales and marketing – the days of effectively communicating by walking about or chatting by the water cooler really don’t work with a global production floor
  3. Consider updating your management model if it is primarily a “top-down, command and control” structure. Continuous improvement is more likely to occur from those on the shop floor. Centres of Excellence offer a great way to balance the need for centralised visibility and control with the potential for process suggestions from the field
  4. Knowledge sharing between departments shouldn’t be saved for weekly meetings; it must be continuous and readily available. The flow of data between teams allows for a customer-centric operation with up-to-the-minute intelligence
  5. Real-time collaboration is essential when working to a fixed deadline and especially when businesses are subjected to unpredictable external supplies

Once Brazil has reflected upon a successful World Cup, they will soon start to wind-up activities for the Olympics in 2016. For the Olympic organisers workplace collaboration will be key to reaching their goal of hosting the biggest sporting event in the world. For manufacturers, collaboration mustn’t be approached as a short-term strategy; it must become engrained in day-to-day activity in order to reap the benefits.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council recently conducted a survey amongst global manufacturers. Of those surveyed, 87% recognised that improving communication and information sharing was important or very important. Yet only 43% rated themselves as being effective with this skill. Clearly, a gap currently exists. Those that make the investment today to narrow the gap will be the teams of the future to score the winning goal.

Whether it is in sport or business, no team can function at a world-beating level without operating as one symbiotic, cohesive unit. By introducing some of the above steps, enterprise collaboration will become less of a hassle and more of a business winning strategy.

Those interested in reading more about the manufacturing collaboration survey results can download the research report free here.