From the CEO: Becoming a data-driven groundhog

AME | February 5, 2021


According to Punxsutawney Phil, we’re due for six more weeks of winter. For those of you who have been hard hit by recent winter storms, it doesn’t take a groundhog to look out the window and wonder if a prediction of only six more weeks of winter is too optimistic!

While the Groundhog Day tradition is good fun, predictions and actions that are based on gut feelings can often lead us down the wrong path. We’ve seen a significant shift towards data-driven processes and decision-making in the past several years. It is a revolution that has touched manufacturing, health care, government, finance, education and even sports.

Empowered by more readily available data and computers that can interpret complex and voluminous analytics, the world is shifting. For those of us in manufacturing, we think of this as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. From machine learning, additive manufacturing and artificial intelligence to industrial internet of things, analytics and cobots, it’s all happening right now!

Regardless of the industry in which you work, there is a great need to ensure that the next generation is prepared for emerging careers while also making sure that the current workforce has the skills development training necessary to dive head-first into these new technologies and the benefits they bring. To that end, AME continues to provide and advocate for education and training programs that prepare people for jobs in the industry 4.0 world. This was a main tenet of our recent white paper, A New Manufacturing Marshall Plan, and it is a thread found in many AME events and at the AME International Conference. It is why we have an Emerging Leaders Program and are working to develop student chapters.

At the end of the day, even the work AME does is based on data. Nearly everything we do is tied back to the AME Lean Sensei®, our free assessment tool that provides empirical data benchmarked against AME Excellence Award recipient companies. We even teach an assessor course to help our members learn how to use Lean Sensei® data and other information to identify best practices and areas for improvement in their organizations.

The data landscape creates myriad possibilities for the lean, continuous improvement community, but we also know how important people are to our organizations. It’s not only about Xs and Os. For an organization to be successful and get the most out of the advanced information now at our fingertips, we must engage employees so they understand how these developments help our companies. We must practice people-centric leadership that brings purpose to our organizations and the individuals who make up our teams.

There isn’t a wizard behind a curtain or a groundhog looking for his shadow. To succeed in this modern world, we must actively hone the ability to synthesize and interpret data, develop others’ skills so the data can be put to good use, and engage our people so they feel valued and part of these advancements.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.