The Director’s Cut – Three Things Great Movie Directors Can Teach Us About Industry 4.0

What Can Film Directors Teach About Industry 4.0?

A love of movies runs in my family. It started with my parents, who used to take my brother, sister and me to the cinema once a week, back in the 70s. We loved Hollywood and Bollywood alike in the era of Jaws and the wonderful Amitabh Bachchan. Our local cinema was called Sangam (I’ll explain more about what that word means later), it was close to our house in Mumbai, India.

As a child, I found movies simply magical – I didn’t question what I saw. It’s only as an adult that we become aware of the mechanics of the magic – the hard work, the combined talents, the vision, talent and the leadership needed to make a successful film.

With the emergence of Industry 4.0 it is easy to get swept along in the movie-like magic of what is promised. We’ve been hearing for some time about how this new era will change everything – faster, more productive, more autonomous, more efficient. In reality, the magic is made possible by visionary leaders, the movie directors, if you will, of industry 4.0.

So what can the movies teach us about how to make sure that the magic creates lasting box-office revenue? Well, a lot of it comes down to the director, and their approach to the process.

In cinema, top directors share an abundance of traits – even if they have a variety of styles. Here are a few observations about how industrial leaders can emulate their approach to success:

  1. You need a vision. When you are filming one scene, or looking at a single element of your enterprise, you need to see it in the context of the final vision. Every detail should be contributing to the end product; you must believe in what you are doing, and why.
  2. You need other people. Directors rely on expertise, and assembling a talented team is vital to the finished product. Directors may not be the best cinematographers, the best special effects practitioners, the best camera operators – and even if they were, they can’t be all at once! Industry leaders similarly rely on the skills of experts in automation, product design, engineering application, data science and various other domains. Much of the valuable skillset for digital transformation will be within the existing staff – some will need to be developed within the existing staff, others will need to be recruited, and more besides will need to come from outside of the company from vendors, service providers, and partners - there are a variety of skills available to the resourceful leader.
  3. You need those other people to buy into your vision. Movie directors need to instill faith in their production team, they need to communicate the vision so that every person in the team is pulling towards the same goal. They must communicate with their team, understand the challenges they face and help them to be overcome or circumvented. They need to be flexible to the needs of the transformation as it develops, support their leadership group and stay completely engaged in the process. Successful industry leaders must do the same.

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In my working life it’s my job to provide leadership in the Middle East for the complete product portfolio of Rockwell Automation. In a way I have similar responsibilities to a director, but more often, I’m part of an expert team brought in by a customer to help them deliver their vision. It’s a role we at Rockwell Automation understand very well – our whole approach is to help highlight the technical and technological pathway for our customers to achieve their vision, and to bring to full effect the huge talent and solutions capability of the largest company in the world dedicated to industrial automation.

We also know our limitations – industry 4.0 is different for every enterprise and only the customer’s own leadership can deliver its full benefit. It makes my job very interesting – you could say that it’s like being able to work on a variety of different films at the same time.

Which is great, because I like a good variety of films. Nowadays I still enjoy watching movies with my own kids (especially Marvel ones, or anything with leading actors like Morgan Freeman, Leo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and others), and they have taken the family movie tradition into the next generation.

We’re a long way from Mumbai now; my own family has grown up in the UAE, but I remember fondly where my love of movies started, at the local Sangam cinema. Sangam, by the way, refers to a confluence of rivers in Hindi, particularly the Ganges and Jumna Rivers, at a very sacred place called Allahabad. A fitting metaphor for the convergence of technologies and skills required to make the most of Industry 4.0.

If you’d like to get together with Rockwell Automation near you and discover how we can help you deliver your vision of Industry 4.0 for your enterprise, get in touch.

Pankaj Shrivastava
Posted April 1, 2019 By Pankaj Shrivastava, Business Leader - Architecture & Software, Components & LV Drives , Rockwell Automation
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