Get the right things done

Aug. 7, 2017

The "effective executive" focuses on tech as means to an end. 

Today’s emerging technologies and digital tools offer an unprecedented path to productivity and growth for industrial enterprises. Unfortunately—as we have seen throughout other disruptive periods—some firms will be left behind, regardless of the value they once created and delivered.

One thing is for certain. Those companies that employ more effective executives will be the winners in the world of Industry 4.0.

Dr. Peter Drucker began his 1967 book, The Effective Executive, with the following statement: To be effective is the job of the executive. “To effect” and “to execute” are, after all, near-synonyms....The executive is, first of all, expected to get the right things done.

Dr. Drucker defined executives as those in an organization (regardless of rank level) who are expected—by virtue of position or knowledge—to make decisions in the normal course of their work that have significant impact on the performance and results of the business.

In a smart, connected factory, plant or other industrial organization, the need for effective executives is amplified. Getting the right things done will ensure your future competitiveness as an organization.

Dr. Drucker outlines five essential practices of effective executives. I’ll highlight two here that I believe are strikingly important to executives leading and operating through digital transformation: Effective executives concentrate on a few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. 

Effective executives focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work. They focus on opportunities rather than problems.

Getting the right things done in 2017 requires an understanding of the major innovations in digital technology poised to transform manufacturing and industrial sectors. These technologies include advanced robotics and artificial intelligence; advanced sensors and next-gen automation solutions; cloud computing and big data analytics; the Internet of Things, the digital twin and additive manufacturing as well as software-as-a-service and other new revenue models.

As Dr. Drucker would undoubtedly point out, the technology driving digitalization in industry is exciting, but the effective executive focuses on and invests in the end result. He once commented, “the customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him.” The positive results to be gained are being proved now in use cases spanning manufacturing operations, production asset management and maintenance, and field service.

Now in our third year, the Smart Industry Conference & Expo (September 18-20 at the Swissotel, Chicago) will gather hundreds of effective executives seeking the knowledge and partners to help them get the right things done in their businesses. Our tracks are results/outcome-focused (Optimize Performance, Innovate Processes, Eliminate Surprises) and feature industry practitioners who are capturing opportunities in these areas now.

Peter Drucker warned the effective executive against blindly accepting the operating reality in which he or she finds themselves. Rather, he encouraged them to take positive action to change the reality in which they live and work.