Higher expectations lead to better results. This is an interpretation of the complex phenomenon which is described as the Pygmalion effect. A study by Robert Rosenthal led to the discovery of this psychological phenomenon. It emphasizes that expectations placed on a subject may alter their behavior in a positive or negative manner.

An article published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) explored how the Pygmalion effect can impact management in workplaces. It pointed out that superior managers are able to set higher expectations from their employees and get better results. These managers have a higher degree of confidence in their own abilities to successfully select, train and motivate their employees. The HBR article also points out that the first manager for any individual might have the most influence on the way they perform for the remainder of their career. This implies that managers shoulder an immense responsibility when it comes to shaping individual careers.

The Harvard article mentions ‘Astute Selection’. It points out that managers who are successful are more likely to choose winning performers from the start. This ability of choosing the right candidates elevates their performance as managers, the team’s performance and that of the company’s.

You might wonder, how does a psychological phenomenon like the Pygmalion effect have any connection whatsoever with Digital Transformation and MES applications? As we progress you will discover that the Pygmalion effect applies perfectly to the successful pursuit of Industry 4.0-driven digital transformation. Let’s understand how.

The right Industry 4.0 approach is crucial for the win

Industry leaders in digital transformation are already reaping massive benefits versus companies which have lagged behind. McKinsey points out how companies can perform better using digital transformation.  The key is to build the right environment for a successful transition, from status quo to a more digitally enabled, intelligent and self-actualizing operation across the supply chain.

If we map the ideal way to pursue digital transformation against the Pygmalion effect and Harvard article findings, we can develop a methodology for companies. This ‘ideal path’ can be a guide towards achieving the desired results in a   transformation effort.

Know yourself

The first and most important aspect in pursuing a massive value chain-wide change is to understand the value chain itself. The combination of business processes that deliver value to customers and lead to generation of revenue need to be understood. This activity should be performed by the top leaders of the organization along with leaders across the operation and supply chain. It is absolutely critical to identify the existing problem areas. Determine what problems are localized and what problems span across the value chain and multiple manufacturing sites.

Involving leaders and consultants who understand digital technology is essential in deciphering the status quo. Once you know clearly what problems exist, determining how they can be alleviated through technology becomes the next logical step.

High Expectations Internally

When it comes to existing digital infrastructure and point solutions deployed across the organization, it is absolutely necessary to evaluate their performance against an ‘ideal’ Industry 4.0 scenario. Determine whether the current IT and application infrastructure provides the ability to harness data as it is created, add intelligence to it and prompt automated actions. This closed loop response will lead to better operational and business results.

Unless the current applications are capable of delivering higher value, it may be time to replace, retire or reconfigure them. For manufacturing organizations, a logical place to evaluate is the current Manufacturing Execution System. Does it have the capabilities of a modern MES data platform? Can the current application handle the challenges posed by Big Data and IoT? Or it is now an impediment in the pursuit of Industry 4.0?   

The Pygmalion effect suggests that higher expectations placed on subjects drive higher results. In the case of internal application rationalization, it may lead to the understanding of whether or not current systems will deliver the near term and future performance needed to derive higher value in an Industry 4.0 scenario.

High Expectations Externally

Once you complete the internal analysis of current applications, you should have an idea whether they can handle the type of data management and speed necessary for digital transformation. The next step is to construct an application architecture which forms the base of your digitally-transformed enterprise.   

The Pygmalion effect dictates to place higher expectation on external experts. This includes consultants, vendors and specialists engaged to determine solutions to the problems discovered in the ‘know yourself’ stage. The goal at this stage is to never compromise on key deliverables.

The role MES experts play in determining the success of a future transformation is extremely vital. Your expectation from them should be indicative of this. One means of selection is to use a tool like the Gartner Magic Quadrant. It details MES offerings by industry as well as features, to streamline the selection process. The shortlisted vendors’ proposed solutions should be extensible and scalable to track both current needs and future vision.

Drive Results

The last and perhaps the most important aspect derived from the Pygmalion effect and the HBR study is prioritization. Companies need to put their people and needs first in order to gain better results. Involve digitally savvy and strong IT and operational leaders in the transformation efforts. The team selected will have a major bearing on the outcome of transformation efforts, irrespective of the choice of the MES and other supporting applications.

A strong, agile and iterative approach to implementation, when coupled with the right leaders and best possible IT applications, will absolutely deliver results. The goal is to have a motivated team that will reinforce and focus on results.  The right MES forms the backbone of the transformation to deliver results. Driving the best outcomes includes applications of the most modern digital solutions supporting big data, IoT, AI, AR/VR, automation, cloud computing and other Industry 4.0 technologies to drive results.

The Pygmalion effect of expecting the best results can be a key to deriving the benefits of change in a company. Knowing the company’s own value chain, placing clear expectations internally and in-line with a future, more digital self, followed by choosing the right MES and driving results through capable, motivated leadership, will deliver a digitally transformed enterprise.

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