PLM and freedom in business

PLM and freedom in business

If you think about PDM and PLM, you will discover a lot of “controlling” functions. Examples are easy. You need to control documents, revisions, bill of materials, changes. Later, you need to manage and control processes. We’ve been living this type of environments for many years. Today I want to talk about something that I can consider opposite to ‘control’ – I want to talk about ‘freedom’. Wait… Bear with me for a moment and don’t kill me :).

I was reading Bryony Cole blog – The change toward human freedom in business. The blog pointed to a lecture of Thomas Malone (author of The Future of Word book) and his MIT lecture. I put a small fragment of Malone speaking below in my post

The interesting aspect mentioned in the same article is related to decentralized organization. Here is my favorite quote:

Malone’s ‘future’ describes an organisation built on decentralised decision-making. Leadership has moved beyond ‘command and control’ to ‘coordinate and cultivate.’ Technology is a key driver. These concepts are very much coming to bear in the organisation in 2012. He shows an awesome video at around 35 minutes about an audience of people ‘co-piloting’ a simulated plane through a set number of targets. The point being ‘it may be possible to have much more decentralised control than we usually assume is possible. If we do that, we may be able to take advantage of much more of the true energy and potential of the people in our organizations, than today.’

The idea of decentralized organization made me think about what role the future PLM systems will play in supporting of such a type of teams. The technology of controlling and process organization needs to change. The immediate requirement that come to my mind is related to the higher level of flexibility. The current function of PLM will be more focused on how people communicate around product rather than how people control the information about the product. The collaboration between people based on the usage of the online system will cause a change. In a “previous version of PDM”, we have been thinking how to protect people from making changes in the data controlled by somebody else. These days, the importance will be shifting towards “informing people” that somebody else is working on data collaboratively. The level of granularity will go beyond the level of “controlled documents” as a result of increased technological potential.

Another interesting quote to mention: Malone’s prediction that ‘technology will impact communications so much that employees will make sensible decisions for themselves instead of just following orders from someone above them, who supposedly knows more than they do, in a management hierarchy‘ is here already.

What is my conclusion? The technology matters. What we considered as futuristic projects 4-5 years ago, now becomes a reality. The scale of systems like Google and Facebook, makes us reconsider some fundamental behaviors of the systems we built for the last 10-15 years. PDM and PLM are an example of these technologies. A different level of flexibility in communication and information will become very important element of this change.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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