Drishti’s founder and CEO Prasad Akella recently interviewed Andy Luse, associate partner at McKinsey & Company. The discussion covered digital transformation, identifying workers who thrive on the factory floor, McKinsey’s digital coaching through its Capabilities Centers network and the impacts of coronavirus. This is the second of three installments; you can listen to the first section here. This excerpt touches on McKinsey’s efforts to build a digital transformation training network through its Capabilities Centers, and how Drishti’s involvement helps manufacturers experience innovation first-hand.
Prasad Akella: So I want to come back to the conversation we had set up here. Your Atlanta Capabilities Center, showcasing companies like ours and most importantly for me, how do your clients get to know the work that you’re showcasing there, and the attraction of companies like Drishti?
Andy Luse: For context, the McKinsey Capabilities Center journey started in 2011. And at the time, it wasn’t digital, it was focused on lean. The reason we started those Capabilities Centers — there’s several throughout the globe — is because we were doing all this work with clients, driving impact, but in many cases we noticed the impact wasn’t sticking. We realized that in order to make it stick, and drive sustainable change, you also need to focus on capability building.
We wanted to create a safe space for learning — for employees, managers, front-line workers — where they could do experiential working in a live factory situation with real operators as closely simulating their actual production facility as possible. We built this facility in Atlanta, it had three lines: a tea line, a bottling line and a cylinder line, and they’re real production facilities. We don’t sell any of the products, but we have operators and we create a very realistic environment. We find that experiential learning like that, studies show you retain seven times what you do from seeing it on a page. So that’s been an incredibly important part of how we serve our clients, is bringing them through those capabilities centers. We serve, on average, almost 15,000 clients per year across that Capability Center network.
A couple years ago we realized that digital is becoming such an important phenomenon in the world of manufacturing that you can’t just talk about lean anymore, it’s really lean plus digital. And so, we already had a few strictly focused Digital Capabilities Centers, but we decided to digitize our existing facilities like the one in Atlanta and bring in tech partners like yourselves to showcase the important use cases. And I think that’s been extremely helpful for clients for a couple reasons: One, it helps demystify the technology. We live in an age where executives are just constantly being bombarded with technology. Cold calls for hundreds of thousands of different solutions and it can be intimidating and confusing. So we wanted to create a space where people could come and actually see, touch, interact with the technology in a functional environment and understand it. Demystify it a little bit. And then watching operators interact with the technology and having the chance to ask questions about it, actually play with it, see how you have to change mindsets and behaviors to get people to use new technology solutions. All of those things have been super valuable and super helpful for our clients.
And frankly have helped develop these set of rich relationships that we refer to as our ecosystem so we as McKinsey consultants can better serve our clients. We can go to a client that might be having a particular problem, whether that’s quality or productivity or data analytics, and we have a good feel now for what are the distinctive companies, like yourselves, that are offering really impactful solutions.
Prasad Akella: Makes total sense because if I key in on this idea of experiential learning, what we are observing is, we hadn’t thought about training when we started building our systems. Then we realized, wait a second, we have the video, we’ve got examples of good ways to do it and nonstandard ways to do it. And the nonjudgmental way to see it, there could be a gem in it — a brilliant outlier — or they could be just plain bad. And what we’ve learned is, the notion of takumi, the Japanese craftsperson, and the notion of the dojo, the dojo station, and you’ve now digitized that by putting video, you suddenly can now in YouTube manner, with millennials coming on the plant floor, you can have 20 examples I can study.
It’s like me fixing my car. I have a 20 year old car I keep. And every time my daughter comes up with a problem, I say okay let’s YouTube this thing and we find 10 examples, we study and we go and try and fix it. It’s that same notion that you can actually take digital and physical and put a physical station with the digital in front and people can learn and you can shrink the learning cycles in half the time. Any thoughts on that type of scenario?
Andy Luse: Yes, it’s a tremendous tool. In the past, we’ve spent so much time as consultants working with our clients, trying to identify best practices. That’s the name of the game: what’s best practice, and how do you get everybody to follow it? It can be quite difficult. Maybe it’s that one worker on third shift that’s doing the job a certain way that’s twice as fast, or has improved the quality, or whatever, and it’s very difficult. It’s hard to monitor all these different people and figure that out. You guys have basically created a shortcut tool where you can, using AI, using the human, you can identify that best practice much more quickly.
Prasad Akella: I have a great example. It turns out that at one of our customers, they are making the engine cooling module. There’s the radiator tank and the radiator itself. And there’s a rubber hose connecting the two. And they found that there’s one person who statistically took less time than everybody else. So they got curious and went and looked. Turns out he would come with a glass of soap water every day. He dipped the tube in the soap water and guess what? It slips into the nozzle on both sides easily. And this guy was statistically off the charts. How are you going to discover that? There’s a fundamental discovery problem that you have to go through. You can’t have an industrial engineer sitting watching these people all day long, it’s impossible.