Ways to overcome the fear of change – Part 2

Making a success of your digitalisation project How to overcome the fear of change?

Part 2: Ways to overcome the fear of change

Incantatory talk is counterproductive: telling someone to stop being afraid will simply not work, because fear cannot simply be switched off. To convince yourself of this, take some friends on a via ferrata for the first time in their lives and you will quickly understand the following: fear is an emotion, and cannot be countered with a rational argument. To help someone overcome their fear, you need to find out what would motivate them to take the leap into the unknown.What is the benefit or reward needed for this person to overcome their fear?

We accept change if we perceive a need for it, or if we find a real benefit in it (our expectations are better met) and sometimes we undergo change when we are forced to do so (a matter of survival, legal constraint) and in this case, we will try to bypass or passively obstruct. To convince, not coerce, you need to make the reward greater than the fear.


Some practical ways to increase the reward:

  • If innovation is a key objective for your company, then variable pay targets, hiring and promotion criteria should value this risk-taking and innovative spirit.
  • Personalise the benefit by answering the question “what’s in it for me?” Each case is individual, but there are benefits that involve the group such as the value of these new experiences in tomorrow’s work environment, the opportunities for internal promotion and the impact on the company’s overall image. It is also necessary to reassure those who fear for the continuity of their jobs when the most repetitive tasks are “automated” by accompanying them towards functions with higher added value through internal training, because digitalisation also creates new needs (more data available to be exploited) and new professions (non-repetitive tasks requiring creativity and/or experience, which the competition cannot offer).
  • Quantifying the cost and impact of not taking risks: asking honestly the question “what is the risk of doing nothing?”implies looking at what the competition is doing and knowing the evolution of market expectations. Launching too late is more expensive than launching too early because the market is already taken, and the talentsare already with competitors.
  • Adopt a management style that “involves” employees and encourages their initiative (failures are opportunities to learn, not reasons to blame). Praise the “pioneers” who work to bring about changes that will bring new competitive advantages (regardless of the short-term result). Listen to and answer employees’ questions. Solicit the most resistant to change by asking for their opinion on how to improve things, they often come up with excellent ideas and will more easily buy into the change.
  • Give examples of companies that focused on what they did well and missed the next technological shift (Kodak, Olivetti, BlackBerry, there are many examples…). Give mostly internal examples where customers were lost to more innovative competitors, but also examples where progress was made by bringing something new.

In summary, understanding natural fear and responding to it with incentives rather than inducements is the best way to develop your organisation’s capacity for innovation. Trust new solutions, even without a reference, if you can experiment with them yourself and if they fit your own business strategy. Who would have bet on SAP in 1971, on Tesla in 2003 and on Amazon Web Services in 2006?

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Overcome the fear of change – Part 1

Making a success of your digitalisation project
How to overcome the fear of change?

Part 1: Why industrial practices are outdated and what will inevitably change in the industry?

By nature, we like to have our bearings, our habits. In short, to be in our comfort zone. Doing something new or different creates a feeling of fear in most of us. This comes from the fear of failure but especially from the gaze of others (loss of reputation). The more visible a subject is, the larger the audience, the greater the fear of others’ judgement and therefore the greater the obstacle to expressing one’s ideas, one’s convictions, to proposing something new and unprecedented.

There is a trend to conform to the most generally accepted opinion and to limit oneself to solutions that have already been tried and tested and that are agreed upon, even if they are outdated or unsuitable. There are other signs of this lack of confidence in one’s ability to change:

  • The massive use of external consultants to copy and paste so-called “good practices” (rather than involving internal consultants who know the real context of the company and can assess their real usefulness).
  • Secondly, the choice of technology or software not because it is relevant to the company’s strategy but because it is the “leader” in its field and therefore “reassuring”.

It is human to fear change, and this poses a major challenge to any company committed to the digital transformation of its organisation. To innovate is to take the risk of being the first to do something that no one has tried before. We sometimes move forward cautiously, we may fail, but we learn from our mistakes and start again in a different way. The company must value this type of approach; innovation depends on encouraging employees to adopt this mindset.


This is particularly true in a company that is profitable today. Success can lead shareholders and employees alike to believe that the need to change is less vital than for a company in difficulty. Why take the risk of changing an organisation and tools that work? The answer is right in front of us: how many organisational models that were once relevant are now outdated and will be in turn in the increasingly near future? Even for successful companies, stand still is not an option.

A prerequisite for digital transformation:

Keep in mind that 70% of digital transformation projects do not achieve their goals according to a study conducted by Harvard University. Of the $1300 billion spent on digital transformation in 2019, the study estimated that $900 billion was wasted. Why do some companies succeed in their digital projects and others fail? Fear of change is one of the main reasons for low employee engagement and involvement in corporate innovation projects. It is this fear of change that must be overcome as a priority, otherwise the transformation project will only amplify the shortcomings of the current organisation. In the next post, we will discuss solutions to overcome the fear of change.

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Industry 4.0: what’s changing in practice?

Industry 4.0:what’s changing in practice?

Why industrial practices are outdated

and what will inevitably change in the industry?

The needs of industrial companies have changed radically under the pressure of markets and society.

In the past, measuring efficiency (OEE), production quantities and scrap rates seemed to be sufficient to establish whether a factory was working well or not. High production rates were the norm and hyper-specialisation of tools and skills was the norm.

But mass consumption has gradually declined in favour of more differentiated products. New products are coming to market faster than before and in greater numbers. They also have a much shorter shelf life than in the past. Manufacturers have bad to adapt by better integrating research and development with production.

The aim today is to produce smaller batches adapted to these more profitable niche markets and to develop their products more quickly and more often in line with market demand (with less consumption of resources, more organic, more ethical etc…).


The manufacturers who have managed to stand out from the international competition in recent years are those who now offer more services and more values (social, environmental) associated with their products. The success of TESLA is iconic for its product, but the organisation model of its factories has also become so (to the point of overtaking the old world manufacturers in this respect). This requires a complete vision of the value chain from design to after-sales service. This new transversal organisation needs new tools to communicate in real time and pull in the same direction.

Since innovation cannot be decreed, horizontal collaboration is encouraged to carry out new projects in agile mode. Employees from different departments work outside the old silos by self-organising. Collective intelligence is emphasised to find pragmatic solutions and adapt to the ever more brutal changes in the economic (and health) environment.

The first concrete marker of Industry 4.0 is the shift from a reactive approach to the progress loop.

The first tangible change is the functionality of the Manufacturing Execution System software. Until now, the MES was designed to capture as much information as possible in order to produce indicators that would warn of any problems.

This “monitoring » was tainted with punitive thoughts from another century It is the generally accepted idea that the more information you have, the better you can detect anomalies and measure statistical trends towards an ideal target. This is typical of SPC (Statistical Process Control) systems, a concept that dates back to the 1920s and that surely inspired George Orwell, the author of “1984”!

Fortunately, it has since been understood that process stability is an illusionin the context of the hyper-rapid change we are experiencing. By nature, stable processes only concern old products and therefore only a declining part of production. This model does not allow for rapid performance on new products, precisely those that make the difference on the market if they are delivered on time and in the expected quality.

It is the whole chain that must be in permanent self-adaptation. For this to happen, people and machines must share relevant, contextualised information in real time. Flows and controls are more generic so as not to overcomplicate and multiply exceptions.

At the same time, operators are given the means to manage unforeseen events in a more structured way than before. The search for causes is systematic and no longer limited to the strict perimeter of manufacturing. Changes can concern all links in the chain, from design to sales, including methods and quality. The sharing experience is no longer compartmentalised by department with the setting up of multi-disciplinary teams. This accelerates not only the search for solutions, but also the execution of action plans. Actions are audited to validate the effectiveness of the solutions provided.


If necessary, Management support is needed, but only in coaching mode. Employees no longer come with problems but with solutions.This approach allows for faster reaction and stable processes in an unstable environment. The MES of Industry 4.0 is distinguished by its ability to make all departments collaborate in the continuous improvement process. By putting people at the centre of everything, MES 4.0 is a facilitator of good practices and not an omniscient algorithm.To enable continuous improvement, MES must offer:

  • A quick way to directly alert the right people in case of a problem
  • Easy access to information to analyse problems
  • A single exchange platform to create and carry out action plans
  • Audit-based closure of actions
  • Active management of the skills matrix

You will find these functionalities in the SMARTPROD application.

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Share with us your ideas on how to put Industry 4.0 into practice in your company.

Is MES compatible with Lean Manufacturing?

Est-ce que le MES est compatible avec le Lean Manufacturing ?

A écouter les puristes du Lean, on finirait par croire que les principes du Lean Manufacturing sont à l’opposé de ceux du MES. Le MES serait un obstacle pour implémenter le Just-In-Time et pour rendre chaque collaborateur acteur de l’amélioration continue. Faut-il croire qu’un peu de technologie utilisée à bon escient ne pourrait pas au contraire accélérer la mise en œuvre du Lean Manufacturing ?

Prenons l’exemple de plusieurs outils du Lean Manufacturing :
  • La méthode 5S : cette méthodologie vise à mettre de l’ordre, standardiser et maintenir dans le temps. Or une application peut justement apporter la rigueur nécessaire (contrôle, rappels périodiques, procédure d’exécution) bien plus qu’un processus papier. Plutôt que coller des photos sur un tableau blanc, pourquoi ne pas directement prendre et visualiser les phots avant / après. Mieux qu’un formulaire, pourquoi ne pas procéder aux contrôles via une check-list numérique liée à une base de donnée (pas de ressaisie) et dotée de règles qui seront appliquées ?
  • Andon : c’est le management visuel par excellence, utiliser notamment pour connaitre l’état réel des équipements et des opérations. Le temps réel est seulement possible avec une solution digitale et connectée. Plutôt que d’installer ces gyrophares assez disgracieux et encombrant, pourquoi ne pas appliquer ce principe en affichant les états machines sur une smartTV placée à un endroit clé de l’atelier ? c’est plus facile d’interagir avec l’écran pour connaitre la nature d’une panne par exemple. C’est aussi plus pratique quand le parc machine est très vaste.
  • Flux continu : avoir le minimum d’en-cours entre les postes de travail en synchronisant les priorités tout au long de la chaine de production. Ce n’est possible qu’en ayant la vue globale sur l’ensemble des ateliers et un algorithme de priorisation performant, et donc pas gérable manuellement. Les méthodes d’équilibrage des flux requièrent une connaissance en temps réel des en-cours et des priorités, ce qui n’est pas possible avec des outils manuels ou bien excel.
On pourrait aussi trouver des avantages à digitaliser le Kanban, le Heijunka ou le Poka-yoke. Le MES doit s’adapter à vos besoins et non l’inverse. C’est dans cet esprit que le MES SMARTPROD a été conçu : flexible, centré sur l’utilisateur et simple à utiliser. Si ces sujets vous concernent, n’hésiter pas à échanger vos idées avec nous et nous trouveront ensemble les solutions techniques qui apportent une vraie valeur ajoutée à votre démarche Lean Manufacturing.